Being Frank, a collaboration of three female South African creatives, Jo Theron, Shannon Davis & Kirsten Townsend have initiated a project to turn street vendors into branded businesses, using design as an agent of change.


In a country with a fluctuating economy and a lack of formal resources, South African pavements are full of street vendors. Unbranded, undifferentiated, and in bad condition, they compete in an industry driven by word of mouth recommendation.

Sadly, the majority of the South African public do not view them as serious business people. Given the opportunity, they could substantially grow their customer base and become proficient operations.

“Being Frank recognised that although we may not have the financial capacity or resources to help these vendors, we are blessed with a wealth of design talent which could become agents of change, and transform unidentifiable operations into branded businesses,” states Jo Theron.

Using their design skills, Being Frank partnered with three female vendors in Johannesburg, and created a unique visual identity for each business.

“Our initiative,” says Shannon Davis, “aims to transform three simple street food vendor trailers into uniquely branded, mobile health and safety compliant food trailers, complete with a fully-equipped, fully functional kitchen”.

Each project therefore has two parts:

  • The brand identity and design needs to be realised in the real world through the print production and application of the artwork onto the exterior of the trailers.
  • The vendor’s poorly equipped makeshift operation is replaced with a health and safety compliant food trailer, complete with a working, mobile kitchen (including refrigeration, access to water, deep fryers etc).

Born out of the realisation that, “Helping others is not simply about handing out money. But about understanding how you can use your skills and resources to improve the lives of others,” Being Frank urges the public to offer funding, support, materials or donations to help materialise these three mobile food business projects.

“By uplifting informal businesses into identifiable brands,” advises Kirsten Townsend, “we are hoping to grow the entrepreneurial spirit and offer street vendors the opportunity to be seen as serious business people.”

To help, email or pledge your donation on the Indiegogo campaign.

Take the challenge & be part of their greater goal.

The greater goal of this initiative is not to simply afford three ladies branding and new trailer kitchens, but to up-skill them with knowledge and business acumen to grow their vending ventures into sustainable businesses.

This involves both an entrepreneurial up-skill and kitchen maintenance and meal preparation up-skill.

“We understand our limits as designers / creatives – and we are by no means experts in this field. We therefore want to challenge successful entrepreneurs and chefs to ‘adopt-a-vendor’ and teach these three eager women how to better their product offering.”

“Essentially, in the same vein that we, as Being Frank, have given of our time and skills to these women, you too can share your knowledge and skills. Your reward will be watching three women, enriched by you, inspire countless others to do the same, making a difference to thousands.”

“Will you accept our challenge?”

If people would like more information regarding the ‘Adopt-a-Vendor Challenge’, they can email Being Frank at with subject line ‘Adopt-a-Vendor Challenge.’

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Sources: Being Frank

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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