If you follow I Love Ballito on social media or our The Ballito page, you might have seen or heard of the Love Local initiative. The campaign involves a series of Zoom sessions, four so far, where members of the community come together to discuss a particular topic related to businesses and the community affected by the lockdown, focusing on what was happening and where to next! I Love Ballito owners, Tim Johnson and Justin Scott, chatted to us about why they started this series, what it is they’re striving to achieve and why they’ve supported it via their respective businesses.
Without our amazing local businesses and local people, the North Coast wouldn’t be what it is today. With this in mind, Tim and Justin wanted to use the reach that the I Love Ballito brand has to launch a community-focused call to action and awareness campaign aimed at supporting local businesses and the community as a whole, both of whom were undoubtedly going to struggle at some stage during or after the lockdown. Tim had seen other amazing initiatives that were happening around the country, and wanted to connect our community here on the North Coast and see if we could foster a spirit of supporting local businesses. Once they had the idea, the rest followed quickly, and it wasn’t long before they had set up their first guests and were ready for episode one! As well as encouraging people to support local businesses, the sessions also made it possible for the panel guests to talk about what was going on during the lockdown and how it was impacting companies, staff and their respective businesses or institutions, as well as the local community.
“Our community thrives when local businesses thrive, but in these trying times we wanted to help businesses working on just surviving,” explains Justin, so through chatting about key themes or topics that the community wanted to know about with the view of sharing experiences and needs, the campaign was encouraging locals to show some love, support and true Ballito community spirit!
“A couple of things came together to allow us to kick off quickly,” says Justin. Firstly, the lockdown created a captive audience with everyone at home (where else could we go really?). Secondly, access to the internet and social media was a domain denominator, be it through phones or computers, creating a platform to engage and distribute content. Tim and Justin knew they could reach their audience through the I Love Ballito Facebook page, and that the North Coast audience was receptive to hyper-local content.
Between Justin, Tim and the team who look after I Love Ballito, they had all the resources and skills needed to successfully bring the initiative to life! “Credible information is very important so being able to put together panels of experts with a local flavour that could provide information across a few relevant topics was very important to us,” explains Tim. The technology we have available to us now made things that much easier, with platforms like Zoom’s paid offering that has the ability to host webinars with up to 100 people in a virtual room, as well as allowing for the webinars to be recorded so that they could be shared via the I Love Ballito and FabMags digital channels afterwards, for more people to watch and enjoy.
With so much valuable and informative content being produced all over the world during the lockdown, the team felt inspired but wanted to create their own content that was specific to the North Coast. “We missed seeing local faces talking about local problems,” said Justin. The panel guests, which represented business owners, industry experts and local stakeholders, were selected for each topic, offering a unique insight and perspective into current challenges, but also offering solutions to problems so that locals could hopefully take real, tangible lessons and learning away from each session. These panels shed light on pain points, how people could help (even without money), how parents could navigate the struggles they were facing business-wise while homeschooling their children, and some fantastic other relevant topics, such as tourism and hospitality in Ballito.
With many of us returning to work during the month of June, the sessions may morph and evolve, but Tim and Justin agree that there is a real need for this type of engagement and content and will work on continuing the campaign, and they have some exciting plans for upcoming episodes. Being able to have the content on platforms for people to access later does make it possible for those who can’t make the webinars to still enjoy them. “Ultimately, we want the community to thrive, and this was just a small way for us to play our part,” says Tim.
Love Local – Session One | Are We a Community in Crisis?
Lesley Forest, the Director of Vision 153, and Chris and Emily Allan, owners of Chris Allan Photography, joined Tim and Justin to chat about whether or not Ballito is a community in crisis. In this webinar, there was also a focus on how people can support local businesses even though they might be tight on money themselves. It was a great start to the series.
Love Local – Session Two | The Impact of the Lockdown on Local Schooling
Justin and Tim hosted Haden Keeton, the co-founder of Eden Village Prep and Village Kidz, Andre Buys, the CEO of Ashton International College, Joe Erasmus, the MD of Ashton International College, and well-known media celeb and businesswoman Margaret Westerhof of Margaret Rose Interiors. This discussion was centered on homeschooling, both in terms of how the kids, schools and teachers were managing, as well as how parents were coping with having to homeschool their children while trying to keep businesses going and working from home themselves.
Love Local – Session Three | Ecommerce: Why the Time is Right
For session three, Tim and Justin were joined by Amy Weare and Jane Bisset, co-founders of We Are Food, founder of Ella Sol, Kelly Bottcher, and Kirsty Bisset, the founder of STIR and SwiftX. With the lockdown, many businesses have started, or at least considered, selling their products online as a way of keeping their business going. The panel shared some experiences and valuable advice on how to get started and what to watch out for.
Love Local – Session Four | Hospitality and Tourism… Where to from Here?
Cheryl Peters, the tourism, marketing and investment manager at Ilembe Tourism, Brett Michelin, owner of Mozambik Restaurant Group, and Louise Vogt, founder of Luxury Coastal Escapes, unpacked tourism, restaurants and the holiday trade, and how COVID-19 was impacting them. Perhaps some of the industries that have taken the biggest impact and continue to be constrained. The session provided unique insights as well as a glimpse of what is still to come.