A Decade of Making It Raw

A photo of Julia with her mother and child.

Julia Brown

Make It Raw founder, Julia Brown, chats to us about making her delicious raw creations, balancing motherhood and what’s next for the family-run business.

Words by: Kelly Tapper

Photography: Supplied by Julia Brown 

What is Make it Raw?

We are raw, organic and gluten-free food creators specialising in crackers, grawnola, energy bars, sweet treats, tarts and snacks. All our products are handmade in small batches using certified organic fruit, nuts and seeds, which we activate to enhance the digestibility of the nutrients.

How did Make It Raw begin?

Eleven years ago, I moved back to Christchurch after a stint living in Auckland. My husband’s parents were involved with the Ohoka Farmers Market so I decided to start making my raw products and have a stall. I wanted to see if people were interested in trying dehydrated crackers and cereal. Turns out they were.

I still have a stall at the Ohoka market, and I’ve basically been there every week for the last 11 years!! During that time I’ve had a number of stockists come on board including Piko, who’ve stocked Make It Raw for over a decade now. The wholesale side of the business has grown alongside our online store as well.

What do you love about the markets?

I love connecting with our customers and getting feedback on our products. Seeing my regulars grow up over the years has been really lovely, I’ve seen customers come to the market pregnant, with their newborns and now their 11 years olds come and say hi and buy stuff. It’s pretty cool.

How did you get into making raw products?

I was working for Huckleberry in Auckland and was first introduced to raw food. It was a great experience as every day I was able to chat with knowledgeable staff and customers about organics and nutrient-dense food. I was initially drawn to making things with so few ingredients, blending or dehydrating them, to make something delicious. I bought my first dehydrator up there which was used to make treats and bring them in for the staff to try. I had a captive audience that were happy to roadtest my first ideas.

Do you eat only raw?

I don’t subscribe to any diets. What I do subscribe to is swapping nutrient-void foods to nutrient-rich foods. I am always looking for an alternative that’s more nutritious. Our crackers are a great example of that.

What are your favourite Make It Raw products?

The Blackcurrant and Banana Bar is one of my favourites as are the Sundried Tomato and Almonds Crackers. My 6-year-old loves those ones too! I’ve also been enjoying our new Sweet and Spicy Nibblies, so easy to snack on.

Where do you make all these delicious treats?

I work out of a 40ft shopping container in Fernside on my mum’s back lawn. And that’s where the magic happens. We’re very lucky to have big windows looking out over native bush with beautiful birdsong.

What’s next for Make It Raw?

Our Nibblies range has just launched and hope it will get picked up by our stockists this year and we've also started to supply gift box companies who curate thoughtfully sourced and locally made products. We have recently teamed up with We Love Local and are really proud to be representing and showcasing Canterbury in their gift boxes. Made North Canterbury is also doing great work with  artisan producers in the region, and it’s an exciting time for us all. Lots of the growers and producers have families too, and it feels like a supportive community of like-minded people doing amazing things with food and drink. It's wonderful to be a part of. 

It’s your friend's birthday party, what treats are you bringing?

Chocolate and hazelnut mousse tart! It always goes down a treat. I’d also whip up a delicious dip and bring plenty of Make It Raw Crackers for dipping.

How do you balance Make It Raw and having a family?

My family has helped a lot with Make It Raw over the years, especially my mum. It’s been an amazing opportunity to become a mum myself, run my own business and also have the flexibility to spend time with my kids. It’s been a very rewarding experience, a lovely balance of work and parenting.

My kids have grown up around the markets and have inherited a diverse knowledge of food and people as a result. My 6-year-old talks about organics and nutrient-dense foods, it’s cool to see the different perspectives she’s been exposed to. Don’t get me wrong, she loves ice cream too!