The Bread: Creativity Buttered on Both Sides
The Bread is a creative brand consultancy in the heart of the Braamfontein district in Johannesburg. The agency is known for the creative company they keep – leveraging their network of partners to help brands connect with their audience in the most authentic way possible.
We decided to pop into their office in Juta Street and chat with Anthea Poulos and Andrew Berry, both co-founders of The Bread. Inspired by the people they meet, we caught up with Anthea and Andrew to find out what it’s like to live, play and work in one Africa’s most creative cities.
Tell us a little more about The Bread, what you guys do and can you share a bit about your backgrounds?
Andrew: So we do a lot of different things, which is why we really enjoy what we do. So we put together events for brands, work with influencers to get new products out there or old products into a new space. We do a lot of content, research – basically we have a network of creative partners that we pull in on specific jobs connecting the right people to the right brands to create value. My background stems from WeAreAwesome which entails content, telling stories, photography, videography, so basically documenting youth culture. I’ve worked with a lot of brands helping them tell their stories in a localized manner.
Anthea: I always ask the question, what do you need us to do? Because of the size of our business, our flexibility and the type of work that we do, we really have the opportunity to do whatever we want. Andrew obviously focuses on content and branding etc. But essentially we always start with the question, what do you want? We try not to be too rigid about saying what we do, which keeps us open to a little bit of everything – I think the simplest way to put it is that we’re an integrated turn-key solution to anything brand’s want to do. I’ve come from a research background, specifically focused on youth culture. I originally worked at an agency called Instant Grass and in a weird, confusing way I ended up here at The Bread. My role is really connecting insight to meaning and directing brands into the spaces they should be playing.
Johannesburg, specifically Braamfontein has undergone significant changes over the past few years. It’s really grown into a space for young emerging Creatives. What’s it like working, living and playing in a space like Johannesburg?
Anthea: When I first moved back from Cape Town and I was setting up an office for Instant Grass here, I had seen some pictures of the neighbourhood and when I got here my friends took me to Kitchener’s – I thought that this space was incredible. This was the Jo’burg I wished Johannesburg always was, growing up. When I opened up the office here, there was literally nothing – I think Great Dane was only being built and Post was the only place you could get food. The Braamfontein precinct as you see it now didn’t exist. When I think about the reason for moving the office here, I remember us not wanting to be removed from everything. We didn’t want to be sitting in an office block in the suburbs – It was a decision taken to always be in close proximity to people.
Andrew: We spent a lot of our time in Braam, so most of our social life was spent here and I think it just made sense that we would have our office here – Anthea had her office here so the infrastructure and the people we’re connected to are all in the area. I always found myself here, whether it was working at Father Coffee, chilling with Anthea, so for all of us we naturally found ourselves here, because we had built relationships around people and businesses here. I think a lot of different types of people come through Braamfontein so there’s an energy here that pulls you and it makes this place really special.
So what’s the transition been like and how has Braamfontein has changed?
Andrew: I think this space goes through waves of popularity amongst different groups of people. There’s also this foundation of people who have just stuck around and really inherently tied to this space. It’s always been interesting to see the change in a very chaotic space. Braamfontein is really chaotic and it’s not as safe or simple as a Rosebank or Sandton where people work, do their job, then leave – The difference here is that a lot of people work in the area, they’ll catch a drink and it becomes this community driven space. The landscape has changed, but the energy has always remained the same.
Anthea: Infrastructure wise, there’s a lot of bigger brand retail spaces and spaces for people to connect. Previously it was just one block with just the basics that closed really early. So a lot more infrastructure is here now and there’s much more for people to do now. I think the best thing and thing that hasn’t changed is that you’re situated in the middle of town - so a lot of good changes have taken place, but its still remained an open space where everyone feels free, you know. It’s the meeting point for culture, politics, identity, music, fashion and creativity – it’s exciting to be in a progressive space like Braamfontein, where you feel you’re part of creating the narrative here and what you want things to be like.
What’s ‘cool’ according to you guys right now?
Anthea: From a macro perspective, I think what stands out for me is this idea of supporting your friends – you have all these young people supporting one another from supporting local business ideas to this rise of creative projects. I think what’s really cool is doing what’s best for you and the small networks you’re associated with – being smarter about your identity, your money, your lifestyle and having a concerted opinion. Oh and don’t forget Showmax, Friends and Yoga.
Andrew: Yeah I agree with Anthea, more and more people are taking localized stuff and putting a light on it. Where as before we were re-purposing global stuff, the trend has been to tap into what’s cool in our own neighbourhoods and putting a unique local twist on it.
How do you guys stay inspired?
Andrew: For me, I keep grounded and inspired by the people I get a chance to interact with. This might juts be my Cape Town hangover, but I find myself being inspired by people who are completely different from me – they have completely different backgrounds and such unique stories behind them. I think if I could put in in the simplest terms, I think there’s so much untapped drive and ambition in this country and that really inspires me – it gives me hope for where this country is going as a whole. You have a lot of people who believe that what they have to offer is unique a different and it’s inspiring to see them taking that to the rest of the world. You know I recently travelled to Kenya and I have been so blown away from what’s happening in other African cities – I spent four days there and I was more inspired by the people, work and ideas there than I ever have been. It’s amazing to be a part of that.
Anthea: I work on music side of things with Stilo Magolide, so that takes me into some interesting spaces. Spaces I would never be exposed to, so it keeps me on my toes and puts me in contact with a lot of inspiring people who are so very different from me – that really keeps me going.
Anthea, you’re known for your love for Sneakers and you guys have worked with a lot of sneaker brands. Do you guys remember your first pair of kicks? You remember that feeling at all?
Andrew: The first pair of sneakers I remember choosing for myself was a pair of Jack Purcells, the all white slip ons. For most of my teenage years I only wore Converse, I only started branching out a bit later in life, but I am not really a 'sneakerhead'. I wear sneakers I like, but I don't collect special collabs or releases. A lot of people have these really cool stories around their favourite pair of sneakers where I just walked into a shop in London and I bought a pair of Ransom sneakers for 30 Pounds. I’m not really a sneakerhead, if it looks great and costs R500 I’ll get it
Anthea: I remember the first pair of sneakers I got. I was eight years old and I went to the States with my family – I remember getting a pair of Nikes with this huge purple strap that were in the Lakers colours. I can’t remember the name, but I still have a photo till this day. When I was 10 years old, my brother got me a pair of Converse One Stars and I was so hyped to get them – they were similar to Northstar. I think growing up around my brothers who always had Jordan’s on, introduced me to sneakers – I remember convincing a friend of mine that I’ll work for them in their photography studio if they bought me a pair of sneakers – I think they were a pair of Adidas. I think I have about 200 pairs of shoes but all I wear is Nike Cortez. I have a lot of memories but I think it’s those early days that really stand out for me.
What’s the future have in store for The Bread?
Andrew: I think the most important thing for us is to remain relevant in what we do and make sure that whatever we do, our work is ensuring that youth culture is progressing and we’re staying true to what we’re all about. So I think for Anthea, that’s yoga.
SL: Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us – I want to wish you guys all the best!
You can connect with Anthea and Andrew on Instagram.