#MyJoburg with Fehmida "Fehmz" Jordaan, Halaal Goods Market founder

28 Sep 2023
In our #MyJoburg series, we speak to people who add something unique to Joburg's creative mix and get the lowdown on what enthrals them about this city. 

Fehmida "Fehmz" Jordaan is the kind of person who treats failure like a trampoline. The dynamo stirring up culinary magic on your social media feed and the brains behind the Halaal Goods Market at 1 Fox Precinct, she's also a mixology innovator with her own brand of drinks. But there's more to Fehmz than her scrumptious recipes and market prowess.

A self-proclaimed go-getter (at the first meeting it was already evident), she's an entrepreneurial whiz, a devoted wife and a mom of two. Fehmz's mission in life? To make a positive difference in people's lives and small businesses alike. She cooks, she eats, she shares, and she spreads joy, one delicious halaal dish at a time. With the Halaal Goods Market coming up – here's what you can look forward to –  we pinned down Fehmz for an interview.
Fehmida "Fehmz" Jordaan; a Joburg dynamo stirring up halaal culinary magic. Photo: Fehmz Jordaan.

"[Joburgers] try to make the most of what we have and we don't do things by half measure."

What inspired you to start the Halaal Goods Market?
I would attend markets, and besides the obvious person selling samoosas, finding halaal food that was new and unique was a challenge. So for me, it was about finding more halaal options in small businesses, but also finding a way to showcase them. I wanted to take my experience in expo design and in working with small businesses and combine it to bring about a platform that would share how much more there was on offer in the halaal food scene, as well as to give small businesses an opportunity to expand their customer base. Most of all, I wanted to start a market where people could come to be social, eat and shop. A place to relax and meet friends and family, and one that appeals to the whole family.

What's the most unexpected product you have been asked to showcase at the market? 
Men's sleepwear. I never looked at men's sleepwear as being more than a pair of cotton shorts and a T-shirt until someone came with a bespoke, satin sleepwear range.

There are more than 70 traders at the upcoming market – how do you define 'Halaal Goods'? 
Halaal is an Arabic word meaning 'permissible' according to Islamic law. It refers to both goods and services acceptable to Muslims, but the Halaal Goods Market is an event that is open and welcoming to all – from every religious and cultural affiliation. More than half of our vendors are female-owned businesses offering everything from food to clothing to jewellery. As a halaal market, there is no alcohol for sale on the premises which makes this as family-friendly an experience as possible.

When we last visited we met traders from all corners of Gauteng. How did you find them? 
We put out a call through our social media pages and many times it's also just word of mouth. Vendors apply to us via our online application form from all over the country, some as far as Cape Town, Durban and Nelspruit.

Your passion for empowering women is evident. How does the Halaal Goods Market contribute to that?
As a female-owned business, I know all too well what it's like to decide to take the risk to start a business as a woman, a mom and a wife. So besides my passion for helping small businesses, I am doubly passionate when it's a female-run business. 

What's the most interesting thing we'll find at the market? 
A variety of food, drinks and items from small businesses that are relatively unknown. You'll find Korean food, Swahili food, deep-fried ice-cream, Peruvian alfajores (a traditional sweet treat usually made with flour, honey and nuts), a comedy show by the Goliaths on Saturday night and so much more!

Why did you choose 1 Fox (in Ferreirasdorp) as a venue? 
I simply love the city and I'm vested in seeing how we can revive it and keep it going as a hub of activity and creativity. To make it easier for attendees we have even brought in extra security. We've also worked closely with the local Community Policing Forum to keep the area and street around the market safe for everyone.
The Halaal Goods Market is a gathering of food and family. Photo: Ayesha Mayet.

You have built a huge following on Instagram. How did it all start, and to what do you attribute your success on social media? 
On my personal page  (@fehmz) I must be honest, I sometimes sit back in disbelief wondering the same thing, but I know that one of the things I always held on to tightly was to be myself. The entry of video content was my turning point for how I could interact with everyone. I just fell in love with presenting everything I did by talking to the camera, and it's been such an amazing adventure of learning and discovery. Most of all, it just makes me happy and excited to share what I love with everyone; I am so grateful when I meet people who say they have seen a video or they follow me and enjoy what I do.

What do you love about social media? 
I love that it connects people and helps me share what I love with people across the globe. It develops friendships in a way I could never have imagined, it brings kindred spirits together and it unites many of us through the food we make or the places we share.

What do you not love about social media? 
The hate and the creeps. While it's inevitable on many platforms, the mental toll it takes when [someone else] cannot deal with their own mental state and [they] use your platform to comment or message in a bullying or overly critical way can affect a person. It's also important to distinguish constructive criticism from destructive criticism because it's the latter that can really do unnecessary damage. When on social media you have to develop a thick skin, however, I think people often forget there is a living, breathing human being behind that social media profile and they have feelings too.

What's the most popular recipe you have shared? 
My San Sebastian cheesecake.
Fancy a fruity mocktail? Photo: Fehmz Mocktails.

Favourite cookbook and why? 
Indian Delights by Zuleikha Mayat because it's a classic in the Durban community and is the ultimate encyclopedia of traditional Indian recipes. Also Katherine Sabbath Greatest Hits because it's a 3D cake pop-up book for adults – and that is just all kinds of fun for me. 

How did your mocktail business start? 
[It] started out of a passion for making drinks and out of survival. We had gone from a two-income household to a single-income household, and as I was the sole breadwinner at the time I needed to find something to make ends meet. I started off doing classes teaching people how to make drinks at home and it took off so quickly that I realised there was a serious niche in the market for this kind of class. I travelled around the province and the country teaching groups of ladies how to make non-alcoholic drinks such as virgin strawberry daiquiris. I realised that even though it was amazing to do the class I wanted to have longevity for the business as a whole. I used to get calls to make batches for weddings and events [and] my dream [was] that one day I would see [my mocktails] on a shelf in a store. Now, over six years later, we are stocked in about 35 stores across four provinces.

From where do you draw inspiration for new mocktail recipes?
As a creative and foodie, tasting, eating, experimenting and being inspired comes from just about anywhere. I could go outside and smell a crisp morning and wonder how we could bottle that. Sometimes the ideas are a bit crazy, but once we brainstorm and take in the feedback we get from customers, we try to play with flavours until we hit the right flavour notes.

Home is...
Where my family is. It's Friday family nights with my extended family.
One of our favourite food personalities in Joburg. Photo: Fehmz via Instagram. 

Your favourite Joburg suburb, and why you choose it?
I love the vibe of Parkhurst and some parts of Craighall Park and Melville. It's where you still find your little bistros, sidewalk cafés and owner-run stores that people walk to. It's the antithesis of mall culture; it's street vibes, it's culture and community. 

What three things should a visitor not leave Joburg without seeing or experiencing?
Obviously, number one is Halaal Goods Market! Number two is a visit to the Hector Peterson Museum with a stop at the coffee place across the road (and a shopping spree at Ntozinhle Lifestyle down the road), and number three would be catching a production at the Joburg Theatre

Hector Pieterson Memoria Museum Photo COJ
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum in Soweto. An essential and moving stop. Photo: City of Joburg.

The most memorable meal you have eaten in Joburg?
A ghee roast masala dosa from Dosa Hut in Fordsburg.

The last thing you want to see on a plate in Joburg?

If you could buy one Joburg building which would it be?
The Old Bank Buildings.

If you were the Joburg mayor for one day (average tenure) what would you change?
I would prioritise cleaning the city. If we start with a clean-up, the rest will follow.

Favourite Joburg label, and why?
Miss Money Penny (@missmoneypennyclothing); they make clothing for all sizes.
Stylish and timeless pieces. Photo: Miss Money Penny via Instagram. 

What makes someone a Joburger?
A love for the city and the too-frequent use of the words "Lekker, Neh, Howzit bru."
What do you love most about Joburg?
We are all motivated to push to grow and improve not just [in] our businesses and communities, but ourselves too. We don't have time for skinner stories (gossiping). We try to make the most of what we have and we don't do things by half measure.

What do you least like about Joburg?
The lack of upkeep of our beautiful province. 

Your number-one tip for a first-time visitor to Joburg?
Have no expectations, eat, shop, be merry and try something new.

Is there a particular dish that sums up the taste of Joburg for you?
Magwinya (deep-fried dough balls also known as vetkoek) and braaied mealies on the side of the road.

The perfect weekend in Joburg includes...
Food, laughs and good friends.

Three words that describe this city
Vibrant. Evolving. Resilient. 

Check out some of our previous #MyJoburg interviews for more insights into the city:

#MyJoburg with Kate Liquorish, actress and creator of Joburg Eats
#MyJoburg with Yasmin Furmie, content creator and co-owner of SiSi The Collection 
#MyJoburg interview with entrepreneur, Olwethu Leshabane.

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