This post is to help both tourists to Cape Town and our citizens to support local! Small businesses without advertising budgets and a place on the grocery shelves struggle to survive in the age of convenience. But if we know where to find them, we can use our money to support better practices – and get lovely, higher-quality products in exchange.
This post has some crossover with our sustainable brands in Cape Town post, but here we’re focusing more on local over sustainable!
Disclaimer: None of these brands are affiliates, and I won’t at any point accept money to include anything on this list – but I’d love to add great entrepreneurs I didn’t know about, so leave me a comment if I’ve missed any!
Buying local used to be the only way people bought – up until very recently! But with all the convenience of global trade routes etc. we’ve seen a big decline in support for local craftsmen and entrepreneurs. But South Africans are fantastic entrepreneurs, and we still have a wealth of small local businesses providing world-class products and services.
So, rather than buying the international beers you know, try a local brew. Rather than staying at international hotels, look out for hotels unique to this city, or a hostel or Airbnb home. Rather than buying souvenirs made in China, buy the little crafts and paintings that locals make and sell from small stalls. Not only are you supporting people who are putting effort into their craft and making a way for themselves, you’re also not supporting bad labour practices and mass production.
Purchasing power is real, and supporting small businesses is one of the best things about having money to spend. We don’t have to go out of our way and buy things we don’t need in order to do it. We can just shift our habits – buy local, sustainable, and small.
Where to find local brands in Cape Town
Many of the small businesses listed below can only be found online, but there are many more entrepreneurs besides! Cape Town’s markets are one of our most popular activities, and it’s here that you can find many small local businesses. And increasingly, they can also be found at small co-operatives and stores.
Cape Town markets
Markets are some of the best places to find local entrepreneurs! And a morning at the market is always great fun. One thing to note, though, is that they can be pretty pricey, as they’re often catering to a richer crowd.
Bay Harbour Market
This Hout Bay market is my favourite (but I’m biased, because I used to work here on weekends). They usually have live music playing, and you can find pretty much anything you’re looking for. Their market stalls include clothing, crafts, jewellery, and art. They also have a fantastic food section, with a broad selection of tasty options, and local brews to match.
Oranjezicht Market is actually at the Waterfront – it moved after getting too popular! Here too, you can find a bunch of terrific foods, clothing and crafts. Their flower stall has the most beautiful bouquets I’ve ever seen, and the mushroom sosaties are my absolute top recommendation.
Photo courtesy of Sharon Ang
Greenmarket Square is a historical space built in 1696. Many of the stalls here aren’t selling locally made goods, but many others are, so it’s well worth a look. You’ll find souvenirs, crafts and Cape Malay street food, all sold not by brands but by individuals. Just be aware of pickpockets, as it’s a central, open market.
The Neighbourgoods Market
This Woodstock market has long since been one of the trendiest creative spaces in the city. It’s super vibrant, and the bulk of the market is housed in an old mill, making it quite unique. You’ll walk away with some very cool treasures after a few hours of great food, beautiful music, and a real internal struggle to not buy everything.
Fabricate is a lovely little shop in Gardens Shopping Centre focusing on South African crafts and creations. From unique earrings and funky socks to prints of everyday scenes in Cape Town, you can find some really beautiful things here. Perfect for gifts, for yourself or others! A few of the small brands we mention below can be found here, including Featsockco. and Aurora Home.
Sparrow Society, Muizenberg
The Muizenberg-based Sparrow Society is an entrepreneur collective and NGO driven by women’s economic empowerment. They provide a space where female entrepreneurs can sell their wares. But much more than this, they work with women on practical skills development and job creation. So they’re just a wonderful group to support if you’re ever in Muizenberg.
Ground Culture, Observatory
Ground Culture is a collective of local businesses with a focus primarily on drinks and dry foods. All of their packaging is 100% biodegradable, which is wonderful, and 10% of their profits are reinvested into the entrepreneurs they work with! The spot is also a great coffee shop where you can spend a few hours working remotely, or just have a coffee with friends.
Cape Town entrepreneurs and brands
Cape Town is a city of entrepreneurs! We have so many fantastically creative people finding gaps in the market and coming up with ideas to fill them. As well as the old classics that are simply best when homemade, like baked goods.
This is a very much non-exhaustive list of Cape Town’s small entrepreneurs. If you know anyone whose products should be added here and who has an online presence, send me a message!
Cakes Hannah Bakes | Baker
If you’re looking for creative birthday cakes for any age, Hannah is your go-to home baker. Her creations are absolutely lovely, and taste just as good as they look.
Deborah’s Delights | Baker
Deborah bakes fantastic biscotti and rusks, made to order. She works from home and sells her goodies online – you can order through her Instagram!
Mervyn Gers | Ceramics
Mervyn Gers mugs at Schoon Cafe in Sea Point
Mervyn Gers makes dreamy mugs, dinnerware and tiles – all handmade in Cape Town. Mervyn started with a little pottery studio in 2011, and now employs 40 people. Their artistry is fantastic, and every mug and saucer is different; handcrafted, painted and glazed.
O.Griet | Illustrator
O.Griet, created by Gerda Smit, offers wonderfully whimsical illustrations with a childlike joy to them. You can commission family portraits (painted as humans or as a whole host of animals!) and children’s book illustrations. Or join her for an illustration workshop.
Vocap | Hats and headwear
Their slogan is ‘headwear with gees’ and it’s totally accurate! Vocap is a headwear brand offering beanies, bucket hats and caps for adults and children. What makes them special is the particular South African-ness of their hats, with terms like ‘lekker’, ‘kwaai’, and ‘howzit’ embroidered in bright colours.
FeatSockCo. | Socks
Wearing my featsockco. socks, and some very dirty hiking boots!
If you want to get creative with your socks, FeatSockCo. have you covered! Their funky colourful socks are so much fun, with prints like swimming ladies, sleeping cats and cheerful scenes. Playful and vibrant, they’re also locally made and can be found online, at Fabricate (mentioned above) or at a number of other local stores.
FeatSockCo. has also expanded its range to include greeting cards, ceramics and textile products – all small-scale.
Ginger Shortbread | Baker
Offering delicious, simple baked goods like choc and walnut blondies and cinnamon buns, Ginger Shortbread is a boon for anyone who craves a fridge of indulgences but just never got that baking gene.
With love by Nettie | Baby clothing
Run from a home studio, With love by Nettie is a local baby clothing brand. They have some adorable creations, including soft, gentle pants and jerseys. As well as ridiculously cute bunny and llama bonnets. Perfect if you’re looking for something handmade and special for a baby shower or first birthday!
Aurora Home | Homeware
Aurora Home offers aprons, tote bags, table runners etc. all in fabrics designed by their small team. The products are so beautiful, and all are made from 100% cotton. Supporting local sewers and focusing on bright, rich colours and fun illustrations, I can’t picture anything prettier in your kitchen!
Firetribe | Performers
A unique addition to the list, Firetribe is a group of fire dancing and performing professionals. They put on amazing, daring performances and can be hired as a troupe for events and functions.
Their team is fantastically skilled and mesmerising to watch, and their performances can be adapted to various spaces and themes. They also give fire dancing and poi classes for those who want to learn!
I’ve seen them at the monthly Clifton Fire Jam, which Firetribe facilitates, and it’s a brilliant experience.
Last thoughts on Cape Town entrepreneurs
Of course, Cape Town has so many more entrepreneurs and small businesses that we can support. If you know of any entrepreneurs with an online presence so that I can link to them, let me know and I may include them on the list. And let’s all shop local as often as we can!