Influencers: Femi and Joshua from Hofi Cas Cora

Interview October 2021

Pioneers in local farming and collaborative

Could you share with us some information about your family life?
Femi: We are married and have no children. Both of us were born and raised in Curaçao. We both have studied abroad.

Joshua: I have studied first in the USA, music and then also went to Holland for my study.

Femi: I went to Holland to study Marketing & Communication and specialized in Branding. I wanted to work as a makeup artist in the Fashion industry, but I was unemployed after finishing my studies as the economy was in a recession and some of my friends were already eagerly waiting to find a job but were also unemployed. I got acquainted in Holland with organic food and I was writing a blog and sharing recipes and some fashion. It started as a hobby and then I got involved in focusing on locally cultivated seasonal organic food, as the employment opportunities were bleak.

Then one day when we came to visit Curaçao, we got to see a piece of land with an agricultural destination, our family had bought this land with no specific plans on what to do. So back in Holland we started to dream of what we could do that was related to agriculture and some sort of eco-development, health, and wellness. So when Curaçao became an autonomous island within the Kingdom in 2010, we decided to come back to Curaçao and decided that we were going to do something to promote local food consumption. We decided to do this without a clear idea as to the “How?”. So we started researching online and to talking to local farmers, “kunukero’s”, to learn from their experiences, and that is how it all began.

How supportive were your parents in letting you become who you are right now?
Femi: My parents, especially my mother, suggested me to do marketing and I was happy that I did follow that study. I was raised with eating a lot of vegetables and not so much meat. So for me, it has become something natural and this is my mother’s influence.

Joshua: My parents are very important for me as my father had his own company where he worked himself up through the ranks and ultimately became the owner of his own company is an inspiring story. Hard work does pay off. My mother was also very supportive as both my parents always supported me no matter what I decided to study. Now after I decided to go into the agricultural sector, after music this has become my new passion, they find it interesting and fully support me in this venture as well.    

Could you share some of your experiences?
Femi: I always worked different side jobs in my life, especially in the hospitality sector and I also worked as a coffee specialist. In Holland, I have sold natural body care beauty products. Selling these products was helpful in gaining knowledge which now comes in handy.

Joshua: When I left the USA and left for Holland, I studied International Business. The creativity I developed during the time studying music got me into graphic designing and film making. I did not end up graduating but learned a lot which catapulted me in owning my own farm/restaurant.

Market Place wants to actively promote a zero-waste concept and also conscious living.

We know you to be involved in some projects in Curaçao like sustainable farming, restaurant research, and promotors of a sustainable lifestyle. Do you have other projects that you are involved in? Can you expand a little on these projects?
Our philosophy is to stop wasting food as this helps the ecosystem and we promote a healthy lifestyle. The Marketplace wants to actively promote a zero-waste concept and also conscious living. We started our restaurant in 2015 and we have a shop where we sell fresh, nuts, and preserved local products packaging free. So we stimulate people to bring their own bags. There is also a goat farm on the premises where the goat farmer produces milk and goat cheese. This is a collaboration with another entrepreneur and we help to sell his products in the shop as well as in our kitchen. We also collaborate with a lady that has a school with children with limitations and every two weeks we also collaborate with Fundashon Kontakto which is a group of adults also with mental limitations. Twice a year we organize a market and stimulate the sale of second-hand products. At this moment we work 7 days a week and invest all our money back in our business to keep growing.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
We want to entice people to live more consciously and stop wasting, as we are consuming so much in the world.

In Curaçao, there are so many goods being flown in, but we want to make people aware that there are also interesting healthy local products.

If people would live more consciously they would lower the ecological footprint on the world. On top of that eating fresh food, is healthier. More local products increase the positive Ripple effect on the local job market and therefore stimulates the local economy.

Joshua: I have been inspired to work in the agricultural sector because of new modern technology working in this sector has made it easier. On top of that working in nature gives me peace of mind and that is always a good thing to experience. That is my “Why”.

What are your plans for the coming years and when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
Femi: We just have opened our shop, it took a little bit longer than planned to get the business model done, and now we are in the phase that we are thinking about what else we can do. As an entrepreneur we are never at ease, we are always looking for the next challenge or opportunity.  We would in 5 years from now also have a combined farm B & B, where people can stay over.

Joshua:  Within 5 years from now I foresee people that we would have a more professional platform and also have people visiting us to participate in workshops and we would have trainees to work on different projects on the farm. At this specific time, I have no time for this, but I foresee that we will be doing this in the foreseeable time, as we would have become a farm combined where educational opportunities are offered.

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
Femi: Keeping up with the financial administration of the business, we have now sourced it out. I never ran any business so, apart from the administration, managing the stocks, and the retail business itself, as we go we are learning what to do.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
Femi: At a certain moment the epiphany comes, when we talked with each other as we discuss ideas and each other uncertainties.
Joshua: When I am a little bit frustrated I go for a walk in nature and visit the animals, that helps to clear my mind and figure out how to deal with the dilemmas.

How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skills levels?
We follow On-line Masterclasses, especially related to market gardening by farmers and this inspires us a lot. What they have achieved, is possible to be replicated by others. We gain a lot of knowledge from successful farmers, involved in the same sort of activities that we are involved in. Furthermore once a year we attend a young farmers conference in New York, where these young entrepreneurs share their struggles and share what they have learned. This is a yearly event.

Femi: I also just started a new study to become an Integrated Nutritional Coach, which doesn’t focus only on diets and the food you eat but also on other aspects of a person like relationships, career, etc…

What are your strengths?
Femi: I can be very productive when I am under pressure. I can come up with very creative solutions. Because of my sales and marketing background, I can be social by I am more of a social introvert.

Joshua: Patience, in dealing with people at work and in life. That also comes in great on our relationship. Furthermore, I love being creative every day, I like making graphic designs, and work on short movies about our farm. I am curious and like to figure things out.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
We don’t have that much time, as our business consumes so much time of us.

If you as Femi, Joshua would meet a stranger on the bus (let say in New York) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
Femi: I will be a little bit hesitant in the first instance, I will not be so talkative. Later on, I might share my passions, namely the restaurant and the farm.

Joshua: I will explain where I come from, Curaçao, as that in itself is interesting. I will tell them that I work in the agriculture sector and that we have a restaurant.

How would you describe Femi/Joshua in one word or one sentence?
Femi: Hardest worker I know.

Joshua: Very neutral person, a peacekeeper.

Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
Femi: The company Stone Barn & Blue Hill restaurant, the chef Dan Barber. We saw him during one edition of this show and we were impressed. It was then that we said to ourselves that is what we like to do in Curaçao.  

Joshua: The head farmer Jack Algiere of Stone Barns, but also in the masterclass that I follow a Canadian farmer Jeanne Martin Fortier. His story is so inspiring as he has invented a lot of new methods that are very useful for me and that I use and it makes working in the agricultural sector easier and more efficient because that is the main thing to do.

What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
Femi: The structural organization of what we do.

Joshua: Planning, I do a lot of it, and there is always room for improvement to discern more structure in the work we do.

What was a defining moment in your life?
Femi: Last year during the lockdown. We were at a crucial point, we were considering the options of either surviving and fighting ourselves through the crisis or shutdown and pull out and leaving all that we build and the people that work with us behind. 

Joshua: Opening our business here in Curaçao and share with everybody what we believe in. 

Where do you want to be 10 years from now with your career/business?
Femi: The farm has grown and developed into a multi-purpose farm with multiple eco lodging on our premises. That I won’t have to work 8 hours every day and that we are hosting different types of creatives under the same roof doing their things.  That we would have our products available in more locations on the island.

Joshua: That everything that I have in my mind would have materialized and that we have built a community, a self-sufficient business, where people can eat, stay, visit on tours and that we are constantly learning and that we are supported by volunteers from all over the world.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
Femi: That I am allowed to go on vacation.

Joshua:  Proud of what I have created and proud of how far I have come up to now.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
Femi: I see that there are more and more young creative entrepreneurs coming back to the island and they are able to see the opportunities and possibilities that the island offers. These youngsters also appreciate the work that we are doing and the efforts we are putting in, by offering opportunities for collaboration with these new entrepreneurs. The success of our business depends on collaborations. In our shop, we offer products that others have produced. There are different local brands offered and that is the way we help each other. We help in the marketing and creating product awareness.

More and more young creative entrepreneurs are coming back to the island, and they are able to see the opportunities and possibilities that the island offers.

Joshua: There are so many opportunities on the island and at times we lag behind in what the world has to offer in terms of technological possibilities. But there are many opportunities and I believe there is a bigger market out there. 

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Femi Meaux and Joshua Peiliker are a young, visionary, creative, pioneering entrepreneurial couple that is passionately developing Hofi Cas Cora into a farm, shop, restaurant, and educational center. Their goal is to entice people to live more consciously and stop wasting, making people aware that there are interesting healthy local products and by living consciously, one can also lower the ecological footprint on the world. According to them, buying more local products is not only healthier, but it also increases the positive Ripple effect on the local economy. By applying new modern technology to their farm, working in the agricultural sector has become easier. What makes them also stand out, is the efforts they are putting in, by offering opportunities for collaboration with local existing and new entrepreneurs. They firmly believe in collaboration as: “The success of their business depends on collaborations”. In their shop, they walk their talk by offering products and brands that others have produced and that is the way they help those with who they collaborate. As they keep making use of the many opportunities they see in Curaçao, they are becoming increasingly more successful.

Because of all this, especially, their views on collaboration we deeply love and respect Femi and Joshua and we consider them one of the top 250 influencers of the islands representing the Wellness, Agricultural and Educational sectors. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.

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