Home LEISURE Reviews Mixing it up …

Mixing it up …

Mixed-use developments have grown in popularity the world over and the new Makers’ Yard in Umhlali is a great example of how this type of space benefits both small business owners and their customers.

Although it is a growing trend, mixed-use spaces are about more than just maximising your valuable real estate asset. Often, as certainly seems to be the case with the Makers’ Yard, it is about creating a unique hub and serving a community.

Owned by husband-and-wife PJ and Clare Sykes (who moved to Ballito from the UK three years ago), The Makers’ Yard is situated opposite Umhlali Preparatory School. It is home to their popular café, The Orange Tree, along with a host of other unique businesses and services.

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While the original concept was to create mixed use production and retail spaces exclusively for artisan makers to sell directly to their customers (who could then witness the production process), Clare says their vision has expanded since opening a few months ago. “Since opening The Orange Tree café and witnessing the strong community that surrounds the school, we’ve grown our portfolio to include entrepreneurs who have something to offer this immediate community and the wider Salt Rock and Ballito area. “Makers’ Yard is becoming a mixed-use space in the truest sense, with a varied mix of tenants, all offering something unique, but together creating a hub of artisanship and entrepreneurship.”

Why do you think there has been a move towards running businesses like this?
“South Africans have always been very entrepreneurial and resourceful, and so many people I have met since moving here from the UK three years ago run their own business – either full time or as a ‘side hustle’ alongside something else. One of the main upsides of running your own business is flexibility, which is why we’re seeing more and more women heading up start-ups – so they can juggle being the primary carer for children while earning an income. In fact, women run more than half the businesses at Makers’ Yard. Covid also motivated many people to start their own businesses. Most small businesses start at home, but there comes a point where, in order to grow, you need more space.”

What are the main benefits of operating out of a mixed-use space like this?
“We designed the units with glass fronts to look like ‘retail’ units so that our small business owners could benefit from a proper shop front as well as a production/studio/back of house area, all in one. The Orange Tree café has also helped create a ‘destination’ and a reason for people to come to Makers’ Yard and discover all the amazing businesses we have here. As the Yard fills up with tenants our hope is that a really strong community of like-minded entrepreneurs will form. We already have people with a wide variety of backgrounds, skill sets and passions and they will be able to get support from each other and share their areas of expertise. They can also work together to come up with ways we can give back to the local community through long-term, meaningful projects.

Tell us about the Makers’ Yard tenants and what’s still to come
“Our first tenant to move in was Kipekee Studio, a local family-run furniture business. We now also have The Cool Kitchen Company, House of Concrete, Mastermind Mathematics and the Engine Room (a unique strength training gym). We are excited to be welcoming two new permanent tenants in July – Flow Studio (a yoga, pilates and barre space) and Ballito Dress Co. as well as the first business into our ‘pop-up’ space. We are looking for other businesses with original and exciting products to pop-up here for a month at a time. The Orange Tree has become a real focal point of Makers’ Yard and the local community. We are starting to become known further afield as word gets out about our delicious all-day breakfasts, light lunches, salads, burgers, pancakes and waffles! There are four units still available.

Details: Clare: 084 074 9880,
@makersyard_sa, @theorangetree_sa, @kipekee_studio, @flow_the_studio
@thecoolkitchencompany, @engineroomgym, @house_of_concrete, @ballito_dress_co

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