The Counter, Foodstagrams & The Business of Instagram

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Salted caramel sauce, a brownie, two blocks of fudge, a Rocky Road bar, a raspberry marshmallow, coconut ice, strawberry and lemon cordial and a tiny bottle of craft vodka, gin or chilli vodka.

You know that feeling when it’s lunch time and you’re really hungry, haven’t packed or planned anything inspiring to eat, you’re scrolling through Instagram and suddenly you’re hangry? For those who don’t know, hanger is a mixture of hunger and anger that is usually brought on by the sight of totally delicious looking food, and on Instagram the main culprits are usually Jason Bakery doussants, Paul Ballen’s ice-cream, and then of course there is The Counter which kind of has a bit of a cult followin’ in Johannesburg and on Instagram. Started 3 years ago by Meg & her partner Ian they have been producing some must-have-in-my-life-right-now kinda sweet treats, just scroll through the post to get a little taste, oh and follow them on Instagram @The_Counter

We caught up with Meg to talk about licking the bowl (she’s actually sick of if), the business of Instagram, her favourite South African bloggers and peanut butter fudge that is like sex!

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The most delicious Rocky Road fudge ever #limitededition

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi! My name is Meg. (Well, it’s actually Meagan, but no one calls me that.) I live in Jozi and absolutely adore what I do. I’ve worked around food since I was seventeen and have been running my own company for over three years now. I’m Jozi’s ‘Brownie Bitch’ (true story) and I love to feed people delicious food. I’m crazy about my family, friends, food (obviously) and living the best life. Which I do!

2. We’re busy oohing & aahing over The Counter’s Instagram photos, tell us a little bit about when the business started

I started The Counter back in 2011 with Ian (my fabulous business partner) – we first sold brownies and sammiches at a couple of small markets in Jozi, and then moved on to Market on Main in the CBD. We’ve been there (nearly) every Sunday for over three years. That’s really where The Counter came to life. We both worked full time for roughly two and a half years while running The Counter on the side. We’ve worked extremely hard to get where we are and have happily been working full-time for ourselves for nearly a year now! The Counter is our pride and joy.

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LoveDrops – butter biscuit base, marshmallows and salted caramel centre, dipped in dark chocolate. #LimitedEdition

3. How has the business grown thanks to the exposure on social networks / Instagram?

We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of social media. I haven’t once paid for any advertising or marketing – people know who we are purely because of social networks like Twitter and Instagram. It’s the most incredible thing – I am constantly in awe of how far we’ve come over the years. We’ve only really been able to put our full focus on the business since I left my job in October and Ian left in March. But we still had this massive following, even though people could only really get our goodies once a week. All thanks to Twitter and Instagram!

4. In what way has your avid & loyal Instagram following influenced your business? 

Our Instagram account is the business! Food is obviously an extremely visual thing, and our food is pretty good looking – even if I do say so myself. People literally stalk us on Insta to find out where we are and what we’re doing, so they can make their way out to us. We even take orders on Instagram. It’s amazing! Our followers also love to post photos of us and our food, which helps get our name out there even further.

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A 60th birthday cake for a very special lady.

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Gooey chocolate brownies. Peanut butter fudge. White chocolate fudge. Dark chocolate and Oreo fudge. Milo fudge. Rocky Road bars. Salted caramel sauce. Peppermint Aero marshmallows. Chocolate chip condensed milk cookies. #SugarRush.

5. Do the many customers comments / order requests you get influence your baking?

To be honest – not as much as you might think. People have some great ideas, but not everyone understands food like we do. Ian and I have mini brainstorming sessions quite often to come up with new ideas – some work, some don’t. I also have a bunch of really good friends who have some incredible ideas that we’ve used in the past. We normally pay them in fudge. 😉

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Naked iced red velvet

6. You recently did a rebranding & sent some of your fav bloggers and online influences a gift basket, what influenced the rebranding and who are some of your fav bloggers?

There’s a lot behind the rebrand, but let’s not get into the politics of it. Mainly – I felt like we needed a change. I adore our old logo and was really sad to see it go, but the business was growing and changing and the look needed to do the same. I feel like our new logo and branding is just perfect for The Counter at the moment. It’s fun and bright and out there – just like us! We luckily have an incredible design company (You&Me Design) doing all of our stuff for us – they know The Counter nearly as well as we do, and understand us so well.

My fave bloggers include: Nicki Dadic (One of the Boys); Alida Ryder (Simply Delicious), Misha Coetzee (Brandlut), Tecla Clofi (Texx and the City) and Dan Nash (Bangers and Nash.) Poor Nash was out of the country when we did the drop, but he knows our stuff well and eats from us quite often, so I don’t feel too bad that he missed out on the box!

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Fish tacos

7. How hard it is to not lick the bowl clean every time you make a new batch / post a behind the scenes photo? 

People always ask me this! Look, when you’ve been baking the same thing over and over for three and a half years, you kind of get sick of it very quickly. Sometimes I bake over 800 brownies a week (out of my kitchen at home) – so needless to say that I don’t eat them. I don’t really eat sweet things anyway, so none of our stuff appeals to me like it does to other people. I will say this though – our peanut butter fudge is like sex. It’s THAT good. And I don’t even eat fudge! But yeah, you get over things very quickly when you produce them in bulk…

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Speckled egg and peppermint Aero marshmallows

8. Where can we find The Counter goodies? Also please say some will be available in Cape Town soon?

We sell at:

– Market on Main in the CBD every Sunday

– Fourways Farmers Market every Sunday

– Perfect Match Market every last Friday of the month in Kramerville

– Brownies, fudge and cookies are all available at Casalotti’s Pizza Rapido stores across Gauteng

– Fudge is available at Motherland Coffee

We obviously do a lot of private orders and on-site catering too, as well as yearly festivals such as Jozi Craft Beerfest – where we sell over 600 burgers and close to 1000 sweet goodies in a day. My favourite day of the year! We would love to stock a few of our fave places in Cape Town, it’s just a logistical nightmare. Soon we will be producing a quarterly ‘Love Box’ – which will be a box filled with our most delicious goodies. People can subscribe to it and we’ll send the boxes all over SA. The demand for us in CT is huge, so we need a way to get to everyone.

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Just a simple chicken and wild mushroom pie

9. Who do you follow on Instagram for a little bit of daily inspiration?

I love, love, LOVE @Hatchery on Instagram. They’re probably my best account to follow. I actually follow a lot of American accounts – there is some amazing stuff happening on the food scene over there: @southernfatty, @plated, @labreabakery, @designlovefest, @sundaysuppers. Locally, I adore: @andyfenner, @foodie_za, @thedopedonuts, @spillly, @brandslut, @justageekdoing, @realmencancook, @siwibb, @andunion (even though those last two aren’t currently in SA), @thecreamerysa and @shesaidsa. And a ton of others – I bloody LOVE Instagram!

10. What are your favourite apps for editing your Instagrams?

I love that Instagram now has a few editing tools in it, so I use those quite often. I do love Snapseed and the cutesy Little Moments App too.

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Peppermint Aero marshmallows 

11. What is your greatest extravaganza?

Ha! I would say starting a business is pretty high up there!

12. What is your most treasured possession?

If a cat can be considered a possession, then definitely my cat – Plum. She’s crazy cool. If not, then the gold necklace I got from my family for my 21st birthday. It has a round pendant on it with the inscription ‘this be your lucky star’ – and my mom’s wedding band hangs on it too. I wear it every day. And it has definitely been lucky!

2 Comments on The Counter, Foodstagrams & The Business of Instagram

  1. Pa Vos
    August 21, 2014 at 11:29 am (3 years ago)

    As jy dit sien ……….wil jy dit net eet. Dink ons moet in Bloem begin dit is nader as die Kaap. Alle voorspoed en seën vir julle

    Reply
  2. NickiD
    September 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm (3 years ago)

    Ah! Thank you for the love, Megsie! :) xxx

    Reply

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