Clarence-based boutique cheese made from just 20 liters of milk

Nompu Shijiba: This is our SME special [June 10, 2021] We talk to entrepreneurs who run unique types of businesses. He and his wife have established a cheese business that they call a “boutique cheese factory.”


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Well, Danie Crowther is here to find out more. He is one of the founders of Noah’s Cheese. Thank you for joining us, Danie. Therefore, Noah’s Cheese is a boutique cheese shop. This is a novel idea for many. What kind of cheese do you make and sell?

Danny Closer: We produce about 28 different artisan cheeses. Most of them are our own cheeses and are very unique. We don’t make cheese like everyone else does.

Nompu Shijiba: Okay. So what’s the difference with your cheese? Give an example.

Danny Closer: The first set is string cheese based on mozzarella cheese. A fun cheese marinated with pesto, chili and herbs into literally small pieces. Also smoke it with Applewood.

Then there are a variety of cheeses that are unique cheeses we have developed. Melting cheese that can be used instead of feta cheese. People put it on a hamburger or a place to melt cheese, or eat it as it is.

Nompu Shijiba: You are hungry for me

Danny Closer: And we are participating in the Slow Food movement. We try to use what is in our environment, our area. I’m in the cherry area. When you make cherry liquor at a cherry farm, the pulp remains. For example, take a large amount from it and stuff it with cheese. Therefore, we make two types of cheese that are aged with cherry pulp.

Nompu Shijiba: it’s beautiful. What made you decide to do such a very unique business?

Danny Closer: My wife started as a hobby and started with a Jersey cow given by my father. There was too much milk. After feeding the workers, the house and the dogs milk, there was still 20 liters left. She started experimenting and gradually this became a small business and about 6 years ago I got involved and decided to grow it. Well, that’s what we do full-time right now.

Nompu Shijiba: Excellent. That is, you are based in a place called Clarence in eastern Free State, or just outside Clarence. Tell us about the reaction from your local community and customers.

Danny Closer: We are very grateful to everyone in the area from the beginning. Clarence is a tourist town. It is crowded with tourists on weekends. So I opened a restaurant and a deli on the farm. People can come here to taste cheese and eat cheesy food in a farm environment. It seems to be quite popular.

Nompu Shijiba: It’s amazing. So when they are there, they have some kind of great farming experience. It’s not just about eating food, it’s about the environment. When I see the word “boutique”, is your cheese so expensive because I usually equate it with something extravagant and expensive?

Danny Closer: When it comes to our personal cheeses, I think we are market related. I don’t think it’s very expensive. Of course, it can’t be compared to the mass-produced cheeses available in supermarkets. It’s a pretty unique product.

Nompu Shijiba: And it’s certainly labor-intensive.

Danny Closer: exactly. All are handmade. Machines are not involved in such things.

Nompu Shijiba: So how many jobs did your company create? I’m sure some of your employees have acquired skills that are very important to the nature of your business.

Danny Closer: Yes, overall, the farm has 15 employees, four of whom work in cheese mills. Some of these cheeses contain quite tricky techniques and they are quite skilled.

Nompu Shijiba: Excellent. As you say, you started the experiment with your wife. So how did you learn about business, actual manufacturing, etc. Did you watch a lot of internet videos? How did you learn

Danny Closer: It’s a college on YouTube and we’ve experienced a lot of exposure. We were supported by the Slow Food movement to participate in the Slow Food Cheese Festival in Bra, northern Italy, the world’s largest cheese festival. It changed our way of thinking about cheese. I think it brought new innovations to what we were doing.

Nompu Shijiba: Tell us a little more about this slow food organization, what it does, and what they support.

Danny Closer: Slow Food is a movement of food activists that started in Italy in 1989. Its slogan is “Good, Clean and Fair Food”. But that means that a long supply chain for farm-to-table food is a major contributor to climate change, as a single culture dominates the planet’s diet.

The message from Slow Food is that you should eat seasonal foods, know where the food comes from, and fully support farmers and growers as directly as possible.

Nompu Shijiba: definitely. That is, in fact, encouraged for our economy as a whole. People need to buy locally and produce locally.

Danny Closer: Okay.

Nompu Shijiba: You have checked that box. Danny, did demand levels drop significantly during the coronavirus infection, especially during the hard lockdown period when many people lost their jobs and the tourism sector was hit hard? And this very How could you maintain sustainability at unpredictable times?

Danny Closer: Yes, it’s pretty difficult. Part of our pre-Covid strategy was to attend a large stall-lined festival once a month. That was about one-third of our income, but of course it disappeared overnight. Due to the overall impact, we literally lost two-thirds of the market overnight. That was a big problem for us.

What we did was start looking at the internet. I’ve been thinking for a long time, but I started a very aggressive campaign to sell cheese online, which is now an important part of our business, and the wholesale part has increased. It was successful. We are currently producing more cheese than before Covid.

Nompu Shijiba: Wow, that’s great. Therefore, people come from afar in search of cheese.

Danny Closer: Yes, send it anywhere.

Nompu Shijiba: Excellent. So what’s the important lesson you want to share about your entrepreneurial experience? It’s a great concept for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, listening and thinking. These people try it out. I decided to see it and made a living. What is your advice?

Danny Closer: First of all, I think it’s about clarifying your vision. We spent a lot of time defining what we wanted to do and visualizing it – how do we want to grow? We started very small. It was just my wife, me, and one employee. But we knew where we were going and where we wanted to be in five years. Then, we visualized in detail where people should come to the farm and what the new factory will look like. We knew where to go. And I think that time you spend in advance is one of the big parts of your success. Because as you grow up, you’ve pondered the planning time, so you’ll hardly be surprised. For me, that is the key to success.

Nompu Shijiba: That was Donnie Krauser. He is one of the founders of Noah’s Cheese.

Clarence-based boutique cheese made from just 20 liters of milk

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