‘Everyone has a place in the city’

The city has been good to Janine Petersen, an entrepreneur who recently started her own wine label called J9.

And while Janine travels more than an hour to get to the city centre every day, she says there is no better place to give her brand more exposure.

Janine grew up in Atlantis, and studied public administration at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). She then moved to the city, where she lived for six years and started a family, but then moved back to Atlantis because she missed home.

“You know, when life tears you apart you just go back home to ground yourself.”

She then worked in financial services, telecommunications and retail for a while, but tired of it. “It was draining me. I felt like I had so much more to offer.”

So, she resigned and started doing experiential marketing for different distilleries across the city, which sparked her interest in the wine industry.

“Two years ago I started working on J9. I turned my passion for wine into a business. I went to exhibitions and trade shows to try to find a wine or blend that would appeal to my audience – something that young professionals would enjoy – the type that are now done with the ciders, beers and party drinks. Now they are looking for something more sophisticated and that would fit their palate.”

And with no capital to start her business, the struggle was real, she said. “I soon realised that my network was my capital – it was the people I knew who made it happen for me.”

It was after lots of networking and wine tasting, she said, that she eventually found a farm in Stellenbosch that was able to make merlot, sauvignon blanc and cabernet blanc for J9.

“We launched soon after at the Circa Hotel in the city centre.”

And the city centre, Janine believes, is the best place to run her business from. “I have a little office at Circa Hotel where I see my clients, and it’s perfect for me to market my brand, particularly with all the restaurants and hotels around, and the new one’s popping up every day.

“My market and audience is here. There are so many young professionals coming through the CBD looking to have a sophisticated evening drink somewhere.”

She said wine is no longer seen as a drink that you have after a stressful day to relax with.

“Wine is becoming more of a social thing in the city, especially with all the crafty spaces popping up all over, and also new wines and bars being introduced all the time.”

She said the Cape Town CBD has created a space for everyone to work, live or play.

“We’ve created a communal hub. For many it has become a home away from home. We see tourists every day, and they don’t look out of place, and they are in harmony with those travelling or working. You don’t feel like you’re at work – it’s like you’re always in a holiday city.

“St George’s Mall is a perfect example of the mixed hub we see every day. Everyone has a space in the city.”

Asked how the city has changed since she moved back home years ago, Janine said it has become more accessible over time.

“I’ve lived in the city and I’ve been working here for almost 10 years. It’s become a buzz of activity. Things like First Thursdays and Museum Night are great initiatives to bring more people through.”

But what stood out for her was the infrastructure.

“Our city is becoming a world-class city. There are so much more buildings going up, so much more people investing in our city, and the transport system is better. I travel from Atlantis every day to be in town. More could be done, but it is definitely being recognised internationally.”