Justina and Gareth, Little Mouse
- Year Invented: 2018
Little Mouse cheesemonger is one of the newest additions to South Norwood. The business is a product of a new-found lockdown passion, when Justina and Gareth became interested in cheese and attended courses from the cheese academy. Justina previously worked at the Tate Modern, and during lockdown found she had free time to explore both her new interest and also the area surrounding South Norwood. She grew up in Tooting, and Gareth has lived in South London for 15 years, but the couple decided to move to South Norwood to settle down and have since fallen in love with the area.
Little Mouse started in the South Norwood markets and developed into the shop and tasting room in November 2021. It was Justina’s dream to revive an old high street and they’re both delighted to be part of the restoration of both their own shop and the local area. Justina took redundancy from the Tate Modern and now works for Little Mouse full time, with Gareth still working for a food sharing app which hopes to reduce food waste. Environmental sustainability is important to the couple, with their produce being locally sourced where possible and they want to shorten the supply chain to make sure everyone is paid fairly. For example, they have a vast range of British cheeses, their wine comes from small producers and is sourced from a local wine importer, their chutneys are made in West Wickham and Bermondsey and their staff are local to South Norwood.
Gareth and Justina have found their business a steep learning curve but have enjoyed every moment of it. They both love that they are adding variety to the high street, proclaiming ‘the cheeseboard game in South Norwood is going to be great!’. The couple want to encourage anyone thinking of taking a similar venture to push themselves to do so. They say the community support of South Norwood has helped them progress so far and they would like to see more businesses open which are also run by South Norwood locals.
This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.
From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.
South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.
The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.