Sea salt, sauerkraut, second-hand books and cherry juice: Four market-based businesses taste success, winning big in national competition

BNZ awards $35,000 in prizes in its inaugural Market Made competition

 Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has today announced the four winners of its Market Made competition – a nationwide search for New Zealand’s up and coming small business success stories, born out of a market.

Anne-Marie Bird of Books for Less, Cameron Bignell of Eden Orchards, James and Yasmin Moore of The Taipa Salt Pig, and Kelli-Jo Walker of The Wild Fermentary, were selected from a total of 213 entries to receive a BNZ business boost, which includes $5,000 cash, a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip phone, a BNZ Business Financial Healthcheck, and paid promotion on BNZ social channels to the value of $2,500.

BNZ General Manager of Marketing and Design and Market Made judge, Amy Phillips, says she was blown away by the calibre of entries in the competition.

 “It’s clear from the quality of the Market Made entries we received, that New Zealand has many talented small business owners, who put in the hard yards on early weekend mornings to build communities and customer bases for their products.

“These are the unsung heroes of the business world, people turning their passions into commercial operations, and all of us at BNZ are delighted to get in behind four truly impressive winners,” says Phillips.

As a seasonal market stallholder herself, Amy understands the challenges first-hand as well as the boost a prize package of this nature could bring.

“We believe each of the market businesses we’ve selected has the potential to become the next New Zealand success story and go from market made to market made-it,” says Phillips.

BNZ Market Made winners

 Anne-Marie Bird of Books for Less, from the Tamahere Country Market

This market-based and online second-hand book business has grown from passion project to a business focussed on waste minimisation – diverting books from landfill by reusing and recycling them, or upcycling them into bespoke art. Founder, Anne-Marie is a passionate bookworm, establishing the business after disability and illness left her not only unable to work, but also unable to visit op shops, second-hand bookstores, or even the local library.

The prize package will help Anne-Marie take her Books for Less business to more markets and a wider audience – ideally in an electric ‘bookmobile’.

Anne-Marie is ecstatic about Books for Less’ win. “It’s really exciting that something I’ve built up from scratch, despite the battle with my health, is being recognised. Getting our business in front of more people is incredible, and I cannot believe we’ve won,” she says.

Cameron Bignell of Eden Orchards, from the Nelson Farmers Market

Besides being the only large orchard selling cherries exclusively at farmers markets, Eden Orchards is tackling Aotearoa’s food waste. The business is owned and operated by the Bignell family, who have been selling cherries out of the Nelson Markets for 32 years. Launched in 2017, their innovative pure cherry juice has diverted 900 tonnes of imperfect cherries from landfill, won gold at the 2022 NZ Artisan Awards, and danced on the tastebuds of thousands of Kiwis.

Cameron says their business model has always centred around markets, connecting with their customers, and testing all their new ideas. “It is really great to be recognised as an up and coming brand, and a great endorsement that our products are worth the win.”

 James and Yasmin Moore of The Taipa Salt Pig, from the Packhouse Market in Kerikeri

Eco-oriented salt-producers, Yasmin and James Moore, provide their loyal northland customer base with high-quality sea salt made purely from peoplepower and the sun. Moving to Taipa in 2015, labelled the ‘terminal dreamer,’ James found his way up the Karikari peninsula to a beach called Puheke which he described as the cleanest clearest water he’d ever seen. He had found his salty source.

James says that the win is real boost for the business, coming out of a tough winter. “It’s hard being a small business, doing everything by hand. Winning this competition takes us to the next level.”

Their prize winnings will help re-stock for the summer rush and set up their charitable trust operation, harnessing solar energy to turn sea water into premium, desalinated drinking water.

Kelli-Jo Walker of The Wild Fermentary, from the Clevedon Village Farmers Market

This fermented foods venture launched at the Clevedon markets in 2020 and has had a steep growth trajectory since. The business uses locally sourced wild botanicals to make their kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kvass. Two-time winners of the NZ Food Awards, these champions of low carbon eating and sustainable foraging, plan to use their prize to support the development of a ‘bacteria barista’ offering.

Kelli says she’s really excited about the win. “To think our tiny little business is taking out these awards, it is really indicative of where people are at with their health.”

With products now available in a growing number of artisan food stores across NZ, they strive to keep their Farmers Market offering unique and often trial new and innovative ferments for customer feedback.

The Market Made competition was open for entries throughout October to any small business run in a farmers, craft, weekend, or artisan market across New Zealand, with aspirations to take their business to new heights. The winners were assessed by an expert panel of five judges.

 Market Made follows the launch of android app, BNZ Pay, the latest, low-cost innovation in payment technology for SME businesses from New Zealand’s number one business bank, BNZ. The tap-on-phone technology transforms any mobile android device into a contactless payment terminal. With the lowest fees in the market, the pricing model has been designed to suit the needs of SME and seasonal businesses, removing the burden to invest in another payment device.

A recent Reserve Bank of New Zealand report on cash and payments data confirmed that consumer preferences are changing and increasingly shifting away from cash, which Phillips admits can be challenging for market-based businesses.

 “Market based businesses, especially coming into the peak summer operating season, need to be prepared and able to take payments from their customers in the ways they want to pay them– that’s where we know BNZ Pay can help,” adds Phillips.