We spoke to Joy Phala about her work and how she finds balance in life.
Who is Joy Phala?
“I’m a mom of two boys, a wife and an entrepreneur. I am also an award-winning landscape designer, indoor plant stylist, and organic gardening educator.”
Joy’s company, Organic Kitchen Gardens (OKG) started as a vegetable garden installation company helping homeowners create stylised outdoor spaces and gardens that don’t just look amazing but also provide them with a harvest of organic food.
“We do what the kids call edible landscaping. Mixing traditional landscape design with sustainable food production.”
Before OKG she worked as a management consultant specialising in change management and business process re-engineering. She stepped away from this when her first child was born.
“I had post-natal depression but didn’t realize it. I just knew that I felt so much better when I was in the garden or making a meal with what I had grown from our small apartment container garden.”
How did it start?
She started sharing her experience of growing food and eating garden-to-table even with limited space, on social media and was flooded with requests from people who wanted to do the same.
“That’s how Organic Kitchen Garden was born.”
Realising that she could blend sustainable food production with creating beautiful outdoor spaces, Joy decided to study landscape design full time and include design as well as organic food production in her service offering
“Now I create both indoor and outdoor gardens.”
What makes Joy Phala tick?
Joy is passionate about all her work, but some projects stand out.
“The Mpakanyane and Mei Memorial Garden at the Bethesda Methodist Church in Houghton are one of those projects of the heart.”
This particular project was a commission to honour the impact that a life well lived had on individual family members but also on multitudes of individuals that came across ANC stalwart Mmule Mpakanyane. It’s a formal English inspired rose garden and is near completion.
Knowing that the work she does has an impact on a deep, meaningful level keeps her motivated.
“I get to change how people live for the better.”
Her clients often thank her for making their gardens a fruitful family space again, and creating a place of peace and togetherness.”
How does she wind down?
Her garden is no exception. “Walks in my garden are now part of my daily wind-down routine. It is my favourite room in the house I just get to relax and be surrounded by nature.”
She doesn’t skimp on self-care and takes time off for herself regularly. “I’ve been known to just call hubby in the middle of the day and say “I’m sleeping at a nearby hotel tonight, enjoy the boys!”
The biggest lesson she’s learnt so far is that what matters most about your business and your brand is the lasting impression you leave on people. “It’s about what they say when you leave the room.”
She has big dreams for the future. And has started an online garden club called JOYS GARDEN CLUB. Where she teaches home gardeners how to grow food in their small urban spaces.
“It’s in its infancy but is such a wonderful community of people growing organic food at their own pace and in the comfort of their homes.”
Coffee or Tea?
“Coffee when I have a deadline and I need a legal drug to pull through otherwise anytime is tea time.”
Night Owl or Early bird?
“Early bird, definitely early bird, I’m not at all brilliant after 3 pm.”
Summer or Winter?
Beach vacation or Mountain hike?
“I grew up surrounded by mountains, so I don’t associate them with fun or relaxation. It’s Beach Day any day!”
Roses or Succulents?
“Hmm, this is a tough one, actually now that I think about it none of the above, look they have their place in the garden but I’m more an indigenous cut flower person and succulents tend to take over.”
Rosemary or Basil?
“Ok, this is just an unfair question, how do you ask a woman to choose between rosemary and basil? I mean how. But if I have to, I’ll go with fresh basil simply because I can cheat on the rosemary and get it dry.”
Fruit trees or Flowers?