Creative #3 - Jorja Tarrant, the girl behind ‘What the Food’, on anorexia and being balls deep in raw fudge
As a journalist in the making and an all round nosy person it is always so rewarding to find a story that turns out to be completely unexpected from the story you thought you were going to hear. Too often I come across business stories that are the same old ‘I had a passion for it so I did it’ which is great and all but theres not much to it sorry. What I haven’t come across yet is a story like Jorja’s, a small town gal from Te Awamutu who spends her days baking up the most unbelievable wholefood treats. I was surprised by Jorja’s journey and I think you will be too.
I found Jorja’s business, What the Food (WTF) on my friends fridge in the form of a magnetic disposable spoon and was instantly intrigued. At that time I was in the process of rounding up lots of creatives to interview so it was a sign that I had to meet the creative gal behind 'WTF'. We met at a cafe for coffee and ‘buch’ and by the time she had made it over to where I was seated she had been stopped by about three people for a catch up, people I can only presume she came to know through her thriving business.
‘WTF’ for Jorja was actually born out of a very hard struggle that she went through last year. After what she described as the ‘meltdown of the year’ the only thing she found that made her happy was baking. While this household activity is something small for most of us, it was a saviour for a young women who for months had struggled to eat any food at all, at times she says her family even had to try and feed her.
“I pretty much had the biggest meltdown in history last year and ended up being diagnosed with anorexia. There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed or talk to anyone so I’d just bake,” says Jorja.
In a rapid turn of events Jorja has gone from suffering with anorexia to running her own business that she gets out of bed for. In just five months she has gone from baking simply just to get through the day to baking for her cousin to now running ‘WTF’ in fully commercialised kitchen where every week she provides handfuls of people with her yummy treats.
She partly has her cousin to thank, you could say he gave her a nudge in the right direction and made her see that people would love her product. He told her that she had to start selling her baking and then booked her into the local markets one Sunday last November, ever since then it’s safe to say she’s been overwhelmed by the support and found the confidence to back herself.
“He booked me into the market and said you’re doing it. From there it’s just blown up and I realised suddenly that there was a massive niche for it here,” says Jorja.
After hearing all about her journey I had to ask her “why aren’t you running your own cafe yet?!” Her response was that she is happy with where she is at for now, she wouldn’t want to get ahead of herself and she’s too busy at the moment. It is quite safe to say that Jorja is quite literally balls deep in fudge so I get that she's busy. Her day consists of waking up, going for a run to clear her head before heading over to kitchen to, yup you guessed it right, start baking and thats where you’ll find her Monday to Friday whipping up her delicious treats, her most popular product seems to be her ‘surprise box’ which is filled with an assortment of all the things she bakes.
“I’ve honestly got so many ideas but the weeks keep rolling and I remember to just do what I do best and do it well , don’t try to get your fingers in to many pools,” says Jorja.
Although there are no plans for expansion yet, she did let me in on a few things she wants to start doing with the business. Alongside distributing her treats to more and more suppliers, Jorja hopes to start running workshops where you can go along and she’ll teach you how to make your own treats at home. She also hopes to one day get along to events like Gourmet in the Gardens and start dabbling more with cakes. Oh and she also said she might need a bit more man-power in the kitchen, so if you always wanted to be a baker now would be the time to sharpen up your whisking skills.