The Little Big Markets

TLBM is a thriving community hub on a Saturday morning. This issue we meet local stallholders who woo us with their wares including rare books, sustainable yoga mats, treasured textiles and Italian food fit for a feast.

TLBM is a thriving community hub on a Saturday morning. This issue we meet local stallholders who woo us with their wares including rare books, sustainable yoga mats, treasured textiles and Italian food fit for a feast.

The Mat Collective

“I want yoga to be accessible for everyone. And if I can motivate them through pretty products, I’ve done my job,” says Papamoa-based Ruby Hewitt, founder of The Mat Collective.

In 2020, Ruby started The Mat Collective after experiencing the benefits of yoga in her own life but not always finding props that she felt drawn to. She made it her mission to make beautiful, sustainable, yoga mats and accessories for the everyday person.

“Yoga can feel intimidating and really serious. It doesn’t have to be any of that. It can be for stay-at-home mums who just need a break, or the corporate businessman that needs a bit of stress relief,”

The Mat Collective’s quality yoga mats use eco-friendly materials, such as natural tree rubber, recycled plastic and cork to support Ruby’s stance on sustainability. Her product range also includes ankle weights, yoga blocks and Ora Aromatherapy mat sprays (a business connection born at TLBM).

Ruby believes the markets provide an opportunity to get face time with customers, educate about the brand and gather valuable feedback.


Woven Roots

Danica and Lyric Bidois are the mother-daughter team behind Woven Roots, a project born from a shared appreciation of colour, pattern, textile and heritage.

“My mum grew up in a home adorned with beautiful kilims from her grandfather’s family village in Pirot, Serbia,” says Lyric. The pair’s strong connection to the ancient craft sparked a business idea.

Within months, Woven Roots came to fruition, sourcing artisanal textiles in the form of rugs, runners and cushions. With products originating in Turkey and Morocco, the goal is to eventually expand the cultural catalogue, while maintaining a commitment to quality.

“The rugs and runners are either hand-woven or -loomed, mostly with wool, with the majority aged 30 to 40 years old,” Lyric says. The cushion covers are upcycled, salvaged and sewn from vintage rugs, ensuring longevity and individuality. “A purchase from us is essentially a lifetime investment.”

TLBM allows customers to interact with products in person, serving as a showroom of sorts. “We appreciate that our product is a purchase best made with physical touch and feel, so the markets are invaluable to us.”

wovenroots.co.nz wovenrootsnz


Hailing from different towns in northern Italy, Stefano Raimondi and Federico Evangelisti, didn’t meet until they were both in the Bay of Plenty, rock climbing at the same gym. Their friendship turned into a business partnership last year with the acquisition of a food truck. Now, they lovingly refer to the Italian flag-adorned, blue-painted, Fritto, as “two square metres of Italy in Mount Maunganui.”

“Stefano cooks and oversees everything on the food side, and I’m there just to make people laugh,” Federico says. Besides humour, he also brings his business and event management expertise to the operation, which complements Stefano’s chef training and twenty years of hospitality experience, across France, Spain, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. Federico also works for a food import company, which supplies Fritto with authentic Italian ingredients, and Stefano runs Italian cooking classes and pop-up dinners through Autentico.

“Italian food is simple. It’s about good ingredients,” Federico says. “I think here in New Zealand, a lot of people do this fusion thing. And
I think we try to bring Italian food back to authentic, original, comfort food,” Stefano adds. “Like nonna used to make.”

“We could sell our food in markets in Italy and people would love it,” Federico says. The Italian-approved menu at Fritto includes arancini (risotto balls — mushroom and Parmesan or four Italian cheese), Bolognese, bruschetta, lasagne and gnocchi. “I’m very attached to gnocchi because Sunday lunch was my grandma coming to our house and she made gnocchi for all the family,” Stefano says.

Even though the duo plates up meals quickly, there’s a lot of care and attention involved in their cooking. “Good things take time. The Bolognese sauce takes five hours to cook. You can’t just do it on the pan in two minutes,” Stefano says. Since both became fathers not too long ago, cultural representation matters.

“You know, with fast food and all that, we lose all the tradition. It’s thousands of years of tradition in Italy, it’s just like losing a memory,” Federico says. “I want our kids to have that possibility to learn about these foods.”

With the help of ex-partner and Basilico pizzeria owner, Michele Delaini, who supplies the tiramisu and the prep kitchen space, there is no food waste, as any excess goes directly back into the restaurant.

Fritto is available for private events, weddings and catering. With the first summer season well underway, the truck is a staple at TLBM, Dinner in the Domain and Dinner in the Park, as well as summer festivals in the Bay — with an optional Italian lesson, while you wait, free of charge.

“We keep it real,” Federico says.


Green House Books

Halena Pritchard’s online second-hand bookshop, Green House Books, has found its groove specialising in the unusual.

“I love seeking out and hunting for treasures,” Halena says. “I would say I’m a treasure hunter for books.” Her curated collection features out-of-print, rare and vintage books, with a focus on science, art, non-fiction, fantasy, science fiction and nature. Halena’s interest in the latter explains the name of the business, encompassing her two loves – books and plants, which she hopes to combine in brick-and-mortar form one day.

In Halena’s colourful life story, which spanned California, Scotland and Wellington, before family ties led to her current chapter in Tauranga, books were always a constant. “I moved around a lot when I was young, so books were a place for me to go into my own little world,” she recalls. An English major in university, she worked in the craft beer industry before returning to her childhood joy of reading.

“My grandmother used to read to me while I was sitting on her lap. And my granddad used to read to me before I’d go to bed, so reading has always been a part of my life,” she says. “It’s a way to learn things or to make connections with your family. There’s so many different uses for books. It’s unending, really.”

Her literary inspirations come from non-fiction and science fiction genres, including authors Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov and Ursula K. Le Guin. “I love stories about humanity mixed in with magic,” she says.

Green House Books naturally evolved in 2022 — first online, then at TLBM and through pop-up shops and book clubs. “I’ve been able to cultivate a community on social media that seems to really get what I’m doing,” she says. “A community of people who like things that are a little bit out of the ordinary.”

For logistical reasons, Halena’s capped her stock at a thousand books and though the market haul takes effort, it’s worthwhile. “There’s a lot of really lovely people who come in and they get so excited to see these beautiful ‘70s sci-fi paperbacks that I’ve got. We just go into these long conversations about nerdy sci-fi stuff and I love it.”

Halena dreams of future events, local collaborations and retail opportunities, but for now, wants Green House Books to be the go-to for particular books and special editions. “I love having a book that someone will come across in the market and be like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been looking for this for so long,’” she says. “You can tell that that’s made their day and that makes my day for sure.”

Words by Carla Bragagnini
Photography by ilk
Art direction by Millie Guest