During lockdown I have been spending extra time on growing my skills, attending online classes, and definitely more time on social media! I have been following both of these businesses that I am discussing in this blog for some time, but during lockdown I was able to catch an Instagram live that Cas was doing, and I was immediately drawn into her passion and knowledge.  I have been making a conscious effort to head over to her pages on a daily basis to soak up some of her incredible knowledge.

I have bought some flatlay boards from Cas in the past, and then they sat under my bed…  I had great plans to use them, but I never felt confident in what I was doing and my photos ended up reflecting that insecurity and lack of knowledge on how to properly use them.  Cas has now given me the confidence to pull these out again and keep trying, keep learning, keep experimenting.  Blogging has allowed me an outlet and a platform to showcase these great South African small businesses, whilst my social media platforms have allowed me to truly express myself and embrace my flaws, whilst still being able to grow.  And I can’t wait to show you more about these great businesses that have truly tipped the scales in my learning to love myself, as well as encourage me to learn new skills.


 

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Your name: My name is Casandra Swart

Business name: My business is called Backdrop Shop SA & Flatlay Boards SA

Social media handles: Backdrop Shop SA – Facebook, Instagram and Website.  Flatlay Boards SA – Facebook, Instagram and Website.

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Tell me a bit more about what you do:
I believe in the moments that become memories. I want to support the creatives who craft these moments into images that will be cherished for a lifetime to come. The Backdrop Shop is a community that welcomes everyone from professional studio photographers to small businesses trying to inject some more beauty into their branding. We love watching you take our designs to the next level by infusing them with your special style.

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Who is the person behind the brand:  I studied and worked as a graphic designer for 20 years, from the beginning I always knew I would manifest into my own boss, I always had a side hustle and eventually my side hustle became my full time business. It was all up to perfect timing. The time had to be right for me to take the leap. I have an incredibly ambitious and loving husband who supported me and nudged me further to stand on my own. In 2013 I was blessed in another way and became a mother … this now became my main focus and drove me deeper into pursuing my business with all I had. Our family loves to spend time venturing out into the Cape Winelands for a Saturday outing, quiet braais at home, weekends away in new places and Christmas bed evenings watching movies… all those family feels! I have a beautiful group of friends who I love to surround myself with and go on girls dinners and shopping dates. I also love self care and often treat myself to a spa day. I love to listen to podcasts and motivational speakers who inspire me and challenge me all the time. My business is my 2nd child and is my greatest achievement, I am very proud of where I am, how I have grown and what the future still holds.

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Where did the idea for this business come from:  I started the business in 2012 with a very good friend of mine, we saw a gap in the market where beautiful well priced backdrops where just not available in South Africa for the photography market. With me as the designer and her as photographer we made a great team and designed and manufactured a small range and marketed it online and on social media, the business grew well and we were happy with the progress… again a side hustle for me so I was still working full time. In 2013 we decided to split the business and go our separate ways (friendship and business unfortunately do not always work out) we amicably went our own way and Backdrop Shop was born. I was now at home with a newborn, and a new business… and I thought well you got nothing to lose and (I thought) I had plenty of time with a newborn by my side, she would just sleep and eat right … the side hustle started again.. I worked long days and nights and packed orders, answered mails, sent invoices, designed new ranges when everyone was sleeping. The work I put in paid off and the company did very well. In 2015 I quit my full time job and focused on Backdrop Shop fully, it was what the business needed to move forward even more. I then brought out more ranges, more products… and loved every minute! And then Flatlay Boards SA arrived…

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Why the passion for flatlay boards:  The flatlay boards were an obvious pivot for the business but I only saw it later in the growth of Backdrop Shop. I love networking and going to business workshops and training… I met so many incredible brands who where small businesses and who loved the backdrops. But my main focus was always on the photographers… my client spec was for the large format printing clientele… and so I thought but why don’t we do something to offer which is smaller/compact and easy to use for smaller product brands. I started researching the idea and noted there was similar ideas overseas… but again not in South Africa.

I just want to point out I have never wanted a business that ships or focuses on the whole world, I have always been focused on delivering to the South African market. This is important as it keeps me focused on my ideal client and what their needs are.

So the flatlay boards were created, we had trial and error moments, it took 8 months doing workshops, engaging with brands who would use the boards and who loved them, we had 5 very successful workshops and got a lot of constructive feedback regarding the boards. I then moved over from our initial wood boards to our plastic boards which then made the board lighter and even nicer to work with… and then introducing our larger mats. My Flatlayboards SA community has grown so much and I thoroughly enjoy engaging with the brands and helping them grow their content and photography skills by using my backgrounds.

Who do you think would benefit from using these:  Absolutely anyone! All brands, lifestyle bloggers, mothers, fathers, big corporations! Its really for everyone – if you got an eye for a great pic and need an interesting background instead of your kitchen counter then its for you!

How do you decide what images to use for your boards etc:
Our ranges grow and develop as our clients do, we get special requests for specific designs. The marbles, woods and textures are firm favourites and we keep them as realistic as possible to give you the best result when shooting with them.

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Which is your personal favourite one so far:
I love the Greek tiles and the different colour prints … florals/textures and colour!

Which have been your most popular designs:
The marbles are definitely the most popular designs. They’re soft and beautiful and is a great way to start your Flatlay journey.

How can people order from you:
We have a wonderful website, which is updated regularly with new designs and its very easy to navigate and order.  Alternatively clients are welcome to personally message me via email, DM on social or whatsapp on our business chat 071 877 0393.

Do you do custom designs:
YES ABSOLUTELY! I love customising prints for clients to match their brand perfectly.

Where can you recommend people get more training on flatlay boards:
I offer one on one training if you need but I always love sharing tips and videos on my social media for clients to go and watch and learn from them.

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Quote you live by:  Love what you do, do what you love ❤

Anything else you want to add:  If there is something you truly believe in, let your heart run with it. Be intentional every day to pursue that thing.

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Guys, aren’t these just too beautiful for words?  And isn’t Cas someone that we all want as our friend, and enjoy a good glass of wine?  I can honestly say that I have learnt so much from her, and will definitely be ordering more flatlays as time goes by and I am wanting to improve the quality of my photos more and more.  Her one-on-one classes are like no other, and I would definitely recommend you take a look at her free training over on her social media.

I can’t WAIT to see the pics that you create with some of her stunning backdrops or flatlays, so please do tag me in them.  Hopefully I can get some tips from you too!


 

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