There is currently a lot of drama on social media within the blogger community – and beyond. I don’t wish to get into it in this post, but I had to mention it, as this is how I first discovered Squishy Tushy. And this is the reason that I am adding my voice to the #DontShushMe movement here in South Africa. No longer can I just keep quiet as I see my black friends hurt and judged, or my LGBTQ+ friends marginalized and unable to live freely. In this day and age, racism and homophobia should not exist, and sadly, it still does. This movement has made me spend a lot of time looking deep within myself, and realise that by saying nothing, I am adding my voice to those doing the judging. South African businesses are often not reflecting the beauty of our rainbow nation, and speaking to influencers has reminded me how often the perfect blonde-hair, blue-eyed child is used in advertising campaigns and their mother chosen for brand reviews. How is that relatable to so much of South Africa? And why are we not speaking up about this?
Nuriyah has had #DontShushMe shirts printed to show support for this movement, and a portion of the profits are going to be donated to a charity that empowers people of colour. I ordered one of my own, and then realised that I needed to get to know this strong woman a little more!
What are 3 fun facts about you:
1. I love to create art / DIY.
2. I am a beginner photographer.
3. I love doing things spontaneously, I don’t mind if it wasn’t planned. I love an adventure and am almost always keen. Let’s take a trip!
Tell me a bit more about your business:
I started Squishy Tushy almost 1 year ago when I had my 3rd baby girl, Israh. I am a natural creative, so I felt the need to create. This is how a lot of baby brands are started. The thing I love the most is deciding on designs, having the fabric printed, and then seeing it come to life.
I come from a digital marketing background so another aspect I LOVE is doing marketing campaigns, checking the stats and finding out how I can do better.
We are still very new to the industry so I am still learning as I go. it is not as easy as it looks, especially when you are a one man show like me 🙂 I do EVERYTHING except sew. Even down to building my own website 🙂
Where did the passion for these come from:
From being a mom, a creative soul, and having the need to constantly create.
Tell me about your #DontShushMeShirt:
There are very important conversations going on on social media at the moment. This hashtag was used by a group of mommy bloggers. To show my solidarity I decided to create these tee’s. This is not the first time I did this. In March when another local brand made obscene posts about Jews, I created a tee that reads “regretively” as they used this word accidentally. I am donating the profit from those tees to the holocaust centre here in CT.
With the don’t shush me tees, R50 from each tee will go to a POC charity which will be determined by the mommy bloggers. I love advocating for those who need a voice so even though it has nothing to do with baby clothing, I have the fully functioning ecommerce website and I have the tools to make these tees (yes I cut and press the designs myself), so why not? I have no problem using my platform and voice to help the next person. We are also busy with GBV tees for another NGO, as well as make tees for Milk Matters and R50 of each sale goes to the preemie babas. Ok, I totally went off track but it is all relative.
What is your personal favourite product:
Definitely the rib rompers as well as the printed zip onesies.
What have been your most popular products:
The rib rompers and fox track sets / bunny track sets.
What makes your products different to those you can buy in a chain store:
You won’t find these exact prints anywhere else. The rib rompers also have a very specific look and feel
Why do you encourage people to support small businesses:
So that we can keep the economy growing. If you support small businesses, you are literally helping keep food in the tummies of people in this country.
Quote you live by:
It’s better to be kind than to be right. 🙂
Always be willing to help others even if it does not benefit you!
Anything else you want to add:
If you own a small business and you think you aren’t getting anywhere, please don’t give up. It takes extreme hard work, long days, long nights, loads of planning and the list goes on! 🙂
I am so thrilled that I discovered Nuriyah, and know that I will continue to learn from her every single day. Her baby clothing is absolutely adorable, and so on trend – I am sure that many of you will fall in love with it too, and want pieces for yourself or family members.
And please, if you don’t have kids, consider supporting her through the sale of her statement tees that really are making a difference in the lives of so many. This woman has an amazingly beautiful heart, and deserves all the love and kindness in the world.
Recently a friend of mine posted on her social media saying she was looking for a black baby doll for her daughter. She was horrified at the lack of selection in the shops (there were only 2 options in 4 full rows of white dolls), and their prices seemed to be a lot higher as well. I was shocked! How, in South Africa especially, is this a reality?
And then I thought back to the time I went looking for a black doll for a child of one of the Rare Bear Project lady’s. I remember how I searched all over and really battled to find one. I felt exhausted, and let-down. But then I handed over the little black doll to Progeny’s daughter and I saw her literal excitement as she held a baby that looked like her. I saw her little face light up and she immediately began to play with her new friend. I knew that I had to do more research into this!
Recently I posted on my Instagram asking for recommendations of local businesses that people recommend, and Toys with Roots was top of the list. I immediately sent Thabo and Mpumi a message to find out more about their business and this great husband-and-wife team. And guys, this is a business like no other. I am SO excited about what they are doing, how they are encouraging self-love and that they are celebrating our beautiful African heritage.
Your names: Thabo & Mpumi Motsabi (Founders)
Business name: Toys with Roots
Shoprite Jan Smuts – Toys with Roots: Thabo & Mpumi Motsabi
Tell me a fun/interesting fact about the 2 of you: We were in the same high school but the first time we exchanged words was years later while doing our tertiary studies.
Tell me a bit more about Toys with Roots: Toys with Roots exists to ensure that each African child can have an experience of being intentionally and beautifully celebrated. We believe that our African children need to identify with as well as see themselves and their greatness in the songs they sing, books they read, toys they engage with and media they consume. It is through Play that they can best learn and form important concepts about themselves and their world. We believe that toys aren’t just toys but tools to educate, mould and shape children. We have an online store where we sell these products. We find like minded entrepreneurs and sell their producs in order to ensure that we can provide parents a one stop shop of all the toys and books for African children that they would desire.
Where did the idea for this business come from: When we started in 2015 our daughters then 3 & 7 years would put towels on their hair pretending to have long flowy hair, from the cartoons they watched and toys they played with. We could see that there was a dissatisfaction with their natural hair and this was concerning. What was even sadder was that we couldn’t find much in store which represented what they looked like amongst aisles of products. We later had an opportunity to buy brown dolls from a lady we met who was selling from the boot of her car. We were so excited to see these beautiful dolls that represented our children so respectfully. Being entrepreneurial, we bought a few more to resell because we recognized that there were parents out there who were faced with the same struggle of finding toys that represented their children. Since then we have been on a journey to assist parents to affirm their children and help them recognise the value in their uniqueness.
How long have you guys been running for: We started in March 2015, so we celebrated 5 years this year. Through this journey we have managed to develop our business model and have become a one stop shop for a variety of toys and books for African children.
We have around 8 doll brands, 7 book authors with 5 languages represented. We specialise in brown dolls of different shades, sizes and hair. The dolls all have a story behind them and are created by passionate entrepreneurs from around the continent. Lali is our inhouse fashion doll brand created by Toys with Roots.
We have children’s books that are written in different South African languages, the ones in vernacular are suitable for entry level readers. Within the book range we also have a fashion book which appeals to our tweens market.
Within the range are also puzzles and backpacks.
We created a childrens music album with different South African nursery rhymes “Songs with Lali” which is also available on different digital music platforms.
We have plans to create more products for boys and increase the diversity of products on offer, all with the same intention of celebrating African children.
In addition to these products, we have created a range of dolls for Shoprite Checkers, called Rainbow Kids. This is a project we are very proud of due to its social impact reaching children in parts of the country and the continent which we have not been able to reach.
Which is your personal favourite product in your range: Definitely Songs with Lali musical album! We are a family which sings ALL THE TIME! We make up our own songs as a family just for fun and also to help with learning. The close favourite is the African-Hut because our youngest two always like to play outside in their Ndebele tents.
Why do you think diversity is so important, especially in South Africa: South Africa is characterised by deep seated pain and complexes of inferiority and supremacy, which are not going to be eradicated in a generation. These beliefs are passed on through generations, sometimes unknowingly. It is through exposure to the “other” in our society that learning can begin to take place and some of these beliefs we may hold can be tested and replaced. It may be a difficult process to face the friction that may take place as values clash but it is through this friction, we believe, that dialogues can start and that we can actually begin educating each other and making positive choices. These choices may take the form of having a representative toybox, learning new languages, joining in experiences which are unfamiliar…
Diversity is a strength because it allows for the above to take place. It adds colour, texture and opens us up to new learnings and experiences. We believe that it is our differences in background, perspective, skills, abilities, the way we view the world that make us valuable contributors whether it be in the boardroom or in the classroom.
Exposure to diversity in children’s toy boxes enable them to understand that different doesn’t mean less than or greater than. It just means different. The diversity in their toy box can help them role play the world around them more creatively and in the long run assist them to be more understanding of those around them. It is important in order to erase these perceptions which have existed for so long, so that we can have an inclusive South Africa. #representationmatters Through black children seeing people like them in powerful roles in media, in books, in boardrooms, they can begin to aspire to also be great.
Shoprite Jan Smuts – Toys with Roots: Mpumi, Nyakallo & Thabo Motsabi
Why is #BlackLivesMatter a movement that we need to all take notice of: We believe in Ubuntu, that I am because you are. We are not independent of each other, therefore when you hurt I hurt. Said differently, as the human race, we are different parts of the same body. If one part of the body is hurt, e.g. the toe, the whole body stops and pays attention to the pain of the toe and takes steps as one to heal the toe. The impact of the pain on the toe affects the functioning of the entire body. Right now black people are hurting. This is not a new pain, we need to be clear about this. All around the world black people are fighting for recogniton of worth and it’s important that people around the world, the human race, ask themselves how they can help heal this wound. Here is a link to our blog on the subject.
Where can people purchase your products from: Our online store, Our Lali and Baby Thando range is also available at selected Toys R Us stores and our Rainbow Kids range is available exclusively at Shoprite/Checkers stores nationally.
Why do you think your products are so well-loved: We believe that a large part of it is the desire for parents to give their children what they didn’t have – toys which equip and strengthen them to be self aware and love their black skin, not aspiring to be anything different. There is an awakening amongst black people happening in South Africa and around the world and parents want to ensure that they affirm their children’s instric worth so that they are strong enough to navigate the harsh and discriminatory world. Lastly because they are just so pretty 🙂
Why do you encourage people to purchase your products for their kids: Toys have a Psychological voice and this video shows how toys and the media can negatively affect how children view themselves. So we encourage parents to choose products that celebrate who their children are. We also believe that for parents who are not black, our products have a place because their peers at school and others they interact with may be black so theses toys (with some parent guidance) can help them learn how to treat others who may be different to them.
How did lockdown affect your business: Very negatively. We were unable to trade for two months and many people are focusing on buying essential products so toy sales have taken a back seat. We are confident though that as birthdays come along, people from all races will choose Toys with Roots to do their shopping.
Quote you live by: “Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can’t, You’re Right.” – Henry Ford “If you ask me what I came to do, I came to live out loud!” – Emile Zola
Anything else you want to add: As a black woman entering the corporate world, there were many battles I had to fight within and a feeling of being less than my white counterparts always followed me. This was untrue of course but I do believe that there were beliefs I held which I know many others hold today. I don’t want this to be the reality for my children. I want them to enter into rooms confidently and not feeling as though their race discounts them from sitting at the table. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Ps 139
As I finish writing this blog, and truly taking in everything that has been written by Thabo and Mpumi, I am in tears. I know that South Africa can come together as a nation. And I absolutely LOVE what Toys with Roots is doing. I have seen first-hand the joy it brings a little girl to see a doll that looks like her – or perhaps one that looks like her friend in her class. We need to start having open and honest conversations, as well as learning from those around us. We need to be supportive, kind, and caring. We need to be like the dolls above and make the world a brighter place.
Please support this beautiful business! I would love to see more of their dolls all over the place – at my friends’ houses, at playdates, out with the ladies living in KyaSands, and carried around shopping centres with pride. I know that I am going to be purchasing some for gifts going forward, as well as the playschool in KyaSands, and I truly hope that you will do the same.
I spotted these gorgeous shoes on a friend’s timeline and immediately popped her a message to find out where she had got them from – I had to own some for myself! Rose gold is my number one choice in every situation and these just looked so comfy and beautiful. Could I really ask for more?
I began doing my research into this brand, and I absolutely love how family-orientated they are, as well as the fact that you can see their love and passion for what they are doing. There is thought put into every product. I sent Jacqui a message to see if we could chat a little about their brand, and I’m sure that you will fall in love with them as much as I have. Plus they are going to be having a sale soon so make sure you don’t miss out!
Tell me a bit more about your business: The brand was created just after my first born son, Mishka. We had such a hard time finding shoes that were comfortable and stylish (at that time we were dong soft soles only) basically, as his feet grew, so did the brand. We added the kids vellies and later on the adult ranges. I am very much obsessed with my family, and always wanted to create a brand that was a bit more than just a money machine. The brand is extremely passionate about slow fashion, hence the lead time on all orders, we manufacture to order to avoid unnecessary dead stock and sneaky sales to get rid of them. We stand for adventure (though that seems to be a fashion thing these days) and we like to keep things real as far as possible. That is the nutshell 😉
What made you decide to start this business: I had a normal 8-5 job at the time Mishka was born and I had to go back to word after my maternity leave. I hated it! I hated that someone else was raising my baby boy…so I took a leap of faith and quit my job. I was looking for something to do from home and then I saw the cutest leather shoes online…the rest, as they say, is history.
What makes your brand different to others: Thats a difficult one, there are so many great brands out there today…I think out passion for slow fashion and family. There are not a lot of family brands out there.
“We are all in it together.”
My husband is my business partner and best friend, Our boys, Mishka and Maverik (our youngest boy), are the inspiration, models and all round heart of Mish-Mash
What have been your most popular products: The Mikado Kids vellies and the Rose Gold adult vellies.
What is your (& your family’s) personal favourite: My kids don’t like shoes (ironic right hahaha) if they had to choose, Mav likes most of the soft soles, Mish loved his oxblood coloured vellies. I love the black vellies and our summer sandals (I’m more of a plakkie person 😉 My husband loves them all!
Why is Mish-Mash so special: I think the sentiment of Family that we connect to the brand, it makes the brand very sentimental.
What do you want people to feel when they are wearing your products: I want them to feel a part of something, like they are a part of the Mish-Mash Family
Where can people purchase your products from: We are making some enormous in-house changes, for now, the best way would be to email firstname.lastname@example.org as the online store is under construction at the moment. There are also a few stockists around SA, that stock our shoes.
Why do you encourage people to support local: Because it is so very important! To me it is the most obvious thing. Is is so sad that it took a pandemic for people to wake up on this issue. If everyone in SA would support local only, our economy would BOOM. We have everything we need here, skills, product and a ton of heart. We have such diverse cultures and entrepreneurs, why look elsewhere?
How has lockdown affected your business: Very much! People are taking huge financial knocks, If they are struggling, we struggle it is as simple as that.
Quote you live by: I have soooo many, I am a bit of a closet philosopher 🙂 I think in the time we find ourselves now it would have to be “These shadows can not hold you”
Aren’t these gorgeous? And don’t Jacqui’s words make you want to jump over to their social media straight away and place your order? There is nothing I love more than a family-run businesses and seeing heart and soul being poured into each of their products. These are so much more than “just” shoes. They are a little piece of happiness for your feet.
Do you have a favourite from Mish-Mash? Those rose gold beauties are calling my name…
I have got to know Gaelyn over the years through social media – we met through a group and got chatting as we were experiencing similar struggles and just clicked with our similar personalities and Gae’s big heart. She is someone that I turn to when I need some encouragement and I absolutely love seeing her 2 miracles growing up and getting cuter by the day.
Gae’s business is one that I really feel is so wonderful, and so necessary. When I was really sick and couldn’t speak, I used to get so upset at not being able to express my emotions or get my point across – so I can only imagine how young children must feel when they can’t even deal with this frustration. Many of my friends and people I follow on social media have young children, and I see their posts about trying to make sense of what their child is asking for or babbling about – perhaps this could be the answer for you!
Tell me a little more about you – who is the person behind the brand: I am a mom to three beautiful daughters, a teenager, a toddler and a newborn, and being their mom is my biggest privilege and blessing in life! I am happily married and live in a small mining town in rural Zambia with our rescue dogs. I love rainbows, reading, travel, and long bubble baths with a treat.
“(Yes, I will happily eat a cupcake in the bath!)”
Please tell me a bit more about Signing Baby: Signing Baby teaches parents how to use baby sign language to communicate with their babies, before they are even able to talk. The physical and mental development needed for speech happens around 12-18 months, with most children starting to talk around 2 years old. Baby sign language is a tool which allows babies to communicate their needs long before they are able to actually speak, as the neurological pathways and physiological development for signing starts to develop around 6 months of age. This means that parents can learn to communicate effectively with their babies from just 6 months old! Imagine your baby being able to tell you when they were hungry, cold, tired or sore? Signing Baby teaches you and your baby how to do just that!
Where did the idea for this come from: My mom has been a baby sign language instructor for many years, and taught workshops in Durban. After experiencing the amazing benefits of signing with my daughter Stevie, I decided that more parents need to know about it so that they too can sign with their babies. I offered to purchase the business from her, and take it digital, so that it was more accessible for parents worldwide. I absolutely loved being able to talk with my daughter from such a young age, it truly brought me so much joy and I knew that I wanted to share that joy with parents everywhere!
Who would benefit from getting your products: Any parents with children who are not yet talking, any parents of children with special needs or speech or development delays (there has been great success with children born with down syndrome using signing while they learn to talk.) It also makes a lovely baby shower gift for your expectant friends.
How can people purchase products from you: I sell an ebook at www.signingbaby.co.za and you can easily buy the book there. It includes all the information you’ll need about signing, including why it’s so beneficial, how to sign effectively, and a dictionary of 100 signs.
I see you are running a special currently – please tell me more: The special recently ended, but I’ve created a code for your readers to purchase it at 20% off – just add flowercrowns20 when you check out!
Why did you decide to teach your girls to sign: I had seen the success my mom had had from teaching children over the years, she owns a play school and all her little learners were taught signing. My sisters also signed with their children and there was no doubt in my mind that signing changes your whole experience of patenting a young baby and toddler. I loved how much closer the children were to their parents, they built up a new level of trust because they knew their parents “heard them” when they shared their needs. There were fewer tantrums (from moms and babes) because the child could ask for what they needed instead of relying on screaming and crying. I knew that I wanted that for my family too.
Any interesting facts about signing that you would like to include: Numerous studies show that children who sign as babies, have higher IQ’s and EQ’s, a larger vocabulary, and more confidence as they grow up. They show greater empathy to others because of their advanced communication skills. They talk at a younger age, and are generally happier and more content children.
Quote you live by: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.” Maya Angelou
Anything else you want to add: I wish I could show you a glimpse into your future once you start signing with your baby. If you knew just how much happiness it would bring you, and how much pride and satisfaction, you wouldn’t hesitate in starting. I guess you will just have to trust me.
You guys, I am so excited about this! And so grateful to Gae offering all of you a 20% discount on her Signing Baby ebook. You can see the passion she has for what she is doing, and the fact that she has experienced the benefits of signing herself makes this even more special.
Honestly, I feel this would make a great baby shower gift or even a first birthday surprise. It will benefit both the child and parents, and lead to a happier home with better communication.
Have a wonderful week ahead, and please share this with your friends who may benefit from this. Let’s support local businesses – especially during this difficult time of lockdown.
This time last year I had my fundraiser, The Snow Ball, to raise funds for my life-saving stem cell transplant. I was blown away at the generosity of everyone that I knew, as well as those that I had never met. Liezl was one of those very special people that didn’t even know me, yet sponsored the most gorgeous (& delicious) snowflake biscuits for everyone that attended my event. The biscuits didn’t even make it home as they were all gobbled up at the event!
Then, my friend Jenny spoilt us all at Rare with a box of Christmas-themed cookies, & as soon as I saw them I knew that I had to reach out to Liezl & feature her on my blog. Besides looking absolutely amazing, they are the most yummy biscuits you will ever taste. Read on to find out more about this beautiful lady & her biccy business.
Tell me a bit more about your business: I have been a freelance Graphic Designer since 2013, but having always loved parties and baking and after being encouraged by friends (and my first cookie “order”) I decided to start my party planning business, Sugar & Paper. I call myself “a celebration enthusiast” – I can conceptualise, design, coordinate and style your event, and even bake the tasty treats. A one-stop-shop of good taste!
Where did your passion for baking come from: I have always loved baking and the rule in our house growing up was “you make the mess, you clean it”. So my sister and I baked often! Baking is a productive form of self-expression and communication. It’s also a form of mindfulness and altruism – at the heart of baking for others is the very act of giving. And, although, people pay me for my cookies, it will never cover the amount of time and love I pour into every baked creation.
How did you learn all the amazing royal icing techniques: I have actually never taken a cookie class – I learned through trial and error. Lots of error! Also, YouTube and social media are great places to watch tutorials etc.
What makes your cookies different to those you can get in the shops: My cookies are made with quality ingredients, real butter, free range eggs and lots of love! I think my attention to detail sets me apart.
What are some of the events you make cookies for: I make cookies for birthday parties, bridal and baby showers, corporate events – anything really! Even just to fill your cookie jar at home.
Whereabouts are you based: I am in Linmeyer, Johannebsurg South.
How far in advance should people place an order with you: The sooner the better, as I book up fast! Ideally, I need confirmation and full payment 2 weeks before collection.
Do you sell Christmas cookies, & do you have extra in stock: I haven’t taken Christmas pre-orders as yet this year but have just posted some!
What have been your favourite cookies that you have made so far: It’s so difficult to choose! I love just about every set I send out as it’s a part of my creativity 🙂
Why do you encourage people to support small businesses: I encourage people to support small business because you are helping someone live their dream! Handmade items are always more expensive than store bought, but that’s because they are bespoke – that item that’s handmade, has been created from precious time that was spent designing, searching for materials, creating the product, finishing, packaging, cleaning! It’s also hours of failures, experimentation, frustrations, and moments of pure joy. It’s a piece of their soul, their heart and a moment of someone’s life!
Quote you live by: Don’t sweat the small stuff 😉
Anything else you want to add:
I hope to build Sugar & Paper into a brand that people will immediately think of when it comes to parties. Right now, I seemed to have slid more into the cookie side of my talents, but hope that I will be able to become ever more involved in the design side too.
Aren’t her creations absolutely stunning?
I could spend hours getting lost in Liezl’s images on her social media pages, & can definitely vouch that these cookies taste just as good as they look.
Ok I need to go now, my mouth is watering & I my tummy is grumbling. Liezl I’m coming for you!
I am super excited about this business – especially coz a special friend is expecting her rainbow baby, & I have been on the hunt for special gift ideas. When I saw all of these creations, I was drawn into a deep, dark rabbit hole & went back to the very beginning of their social media posts – & there was nothing that I didn’t like!
I always prefer to buy baby shower gifts from small businesses & find that which you can’t get from any store at the mall – I have been surprised too often with gifting exactly the same outfit/item as someone else…
Tell me a bit more about your business: Mayalief started about 3 years ago. I just had my firstborn Maya and another startup function venue has come to a halt after I had already quit my job as a chef. I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom, but while doing so using some crafts to bring in a income. We (then my sis was still here, she helped me a bunch with design work and moral/physical support, she is now in NZ but she is still a very important part when it comes to the paperstock and the completion of design work) started at markets and on Facebook with fabric decor/dolls, within the first year we connected with larger markets eg: Flair and Tierlantynkies. We where also asked to collab with bloggers and other makers and soon things just started moving very fast. There was a large gap in our local market for scripture pieces and more importantly Modern Afrikaans goodies, and once word got out we just grew and grew. Ideas kept on rolling in- some we have let go of eg. our speel-leer goodies and other we are now known for eg. journals and scripture blankets. We have probably been online for just over two years now. I would never imagined this little ‘craft’ to become such a absolute dream project.
Where did the idea to start this business come from: My sister in-law dragged me to a baby market in-search for some inspiration. Most of the morning all she told me was ‘you can totally make this stuff’ and I guess that stuck. I started instagramming and came across some amazing handmade dolls that I had a go at. Monochrome nurseries just started getting all the hype and I used and old hobby – screenprinting to start making scatters, duvet sets etc. Throughout the journey I was inspired by international makers, beautiful minimalistic products that our market needed and also Afrikaans people wanted in their mother tongue.
What makes your baby/pregnancy journals stand out: Our journals are very different from the universal books you can buy in store. They are minimalistic with a black and white design. They also do not have and pictures of other random babies in and also no drawing of little bunnies or animals. Obvs they also come in English and Afrikaans.
After bringing out a classic journal we have received numerous requests for journals suitable for a variety of family structures and dynamics. In response, we have designed our Minimalistic Square Baby Journal. With no references to pregnancy, baby’s birth story, titles such as ‘mom’ and ‘dad’, pronouns such as ‘us’ or ‘we’, or religious holidays – this baby journal is suitable for most, if not all, modern day families.
Our pregnancy journal is very dear to me. My sister and I put a lot of work and planning into this one. This journal is almost like a 40 week diary touching a bunch of subjects that an expecting mother might find intimidating but needs to think and work through.
Why do you encourage people to support local:
There is a lot of love and talent in SA, other makers that also strive to bring you the best. When we support (this can be anything- a sale, a like, a comment, an idea, a collab) local you encourage a maker to become more and do more and be better. Keeping local means you build their business, you add to their families needs, you find shortcoming in the local market to build on or bring to attention, share ideas and suppliers with fellow makers you get to meet at markets and through sharing you build more small businesses and local families up.
It’s not just about a sale, its about being a part of a small sustainable community. I really do believe that we rise by lifting others. Giving meaning and purpose to someone else’s creation can make you feel good and whole. Knowing that, I as maker and you as a client, contributed to the small act of making someone else’s day should be the essence of community. Isn’t it so fulfilling to find another person with the same leather sandals as you that you both bought at this small weird looking shop by the same person who made them with his hands. Already you feel connected with each other only because you know the same person who told you the same detailed story about how he makes them, you both met his great dane and was offered coffee from the same cup and you contributed with your own sale to his big dream in that weird looking shop. This is life, small connections that can only be obtained through intertwined communities, small businesses and supporting local.
Why do you think your creations would make special baby shower/birthday gifts: The journals speak for themselves and I often get mails with mamas having them very high on their wishlist.
The other goodies are very unique like the blankets, some pieces are not just a scriptures but poetic words that often bring people to swallow away a ‘knop in die keel’ at markets. Other items are hand embroidered making each one unique.
Another part that of Mayalief that makes us stand out is that just about everything can be personalised, making a blanket or a baby cover not just a tool but also a keepsake.
What are your favorite products: Gosh… probably the bunnies, cause I hand embroider them I leave that special touch on them, but that really goes for anything, cause I also screen print everything by hand and there is no feeling like lifting a frame to a perfect print. Then again the personalised drawing are very unique to me too, and I love getting photos and working towards the final simple posters… Sorry there really isn’t just one answer, if you give me enough time I’ll tell you a special detail of every product hence the reason it is still part of Mayalief.
Do you do custom products: I personalise a bunch of goodies. Custom orders I can do, but it is not something I advertise as people do not always understand the financial impact something like this makes one a product and a business. Then often people decide to rather opt for an existing product of scripture piece.
Quote you live by: I’m inspired by a bunch of quotes and saying. But I suppose this can sum up life for me : LIVE LOVE
What do you guys think of these gorgeous products?
And to the mums out there, do you wish something like this had been around when you were pregnant or your kids were little?
I can’t decide what I should get my friend, so would really appreciate your input & advice!
Thank you so much Michelle for your love, passion, & absolute zest for life! It was a joy getting to know you better & I can’t wait to spoil my friends with goodies from Mayalief.
I am such a girly girl, & when I had hair I loved wearing bows in it. And I LOVE seeing all the little girls running around with their huge bows in their hair – I wish I could still pull that whole look off. And the Snapchat filters with the cute little bows are everything!
One of my favourite people from Olive and Arrow Creative designed this logo, & she tagged me in one of Liah Love Bowtique’s posts. I know that the moment I have enough hair to rock these, I will be placing an order. It just helps me feel so feminine & pretty; whereas at the moment I am really battling with just not feeling very attractive (even though I am trying to do a full face of makeup every day I have realised that my hair held a lot of meaning & confidence for me).
Anyway, this blog is not about me, but about the most gorgeous little business! So those of you with little girls, or even those of you who enjoy wearing bows like me, take note…
More about my business: I only recently started my business, as I am a mommy of the cutest 1 year old – Liah, and decided to make a bow for her as I couldn’t get a red bow over Christmas time.
I was quite excited about buying the fabric and creating something and seeing the end product. Every bow is cut and put together with the love of my two hands
A few months down the line I decided that maybe I should take my passion for girly things and change it into a small business opportunity.
Your Personal Favourite Bows: My love for Rose Gold is uncanny, and can be seen in my logo as well (designed by my best friend at Olive & Arrow Creative) So I made a Rose Gold bow for my daughter’s 1st birthday outfit.
Do You Make Custom Bows: The fuschia bow is actually a custom bow, as a friend of mine wanted a bright pink bow for her daughter’s Christening.
It’s quite difficult to get the fabric in specific colours, so I used non toxic paint to paint the bow in her specific colour and matched it with her outfit.
How Can People Order From You: It’s very easy to order, either send me a message on my page, or email me at email@example.com
Quote You Live By: Kindness is free, sprinkle that stuff everywhere!
Anything Else You Want To Add: Keep an eye open for our Lace range & new bow designs.
Aren’t these absolutely divine? Plus blush & rose gold are my absolute favourite colours so I feel like we are kindred spirits with all our similar likes & general girliness!
Please support this beautiful lady, & tag us in any pics of your gorgeous little girls so we can share in your excitement.
Yes, I am attending another baby shower very very soon! SO again, I was on the hunt for something unique… I have my few local businesses that I return to time after time, but I do enjoy finding some new things that I absolutely love & I am sure that my friends will as well.
I have read so much about the benefits of black & white for baby, & often gift little zebras from the RareBear Project or other fun finds that are black & white – along with adorable outfits & really anything else I can find that speaks to me for the parents-to-be. Then when I saw these gorgeous products from Brainy Baby I knew I had to place an order & reach out to them to see if I could find out a little more about their business. So, read on if you are as excited as I am…
Tell me a bit more about what you do: I am a designer and brand strategist and work at an ad agency. I have my BTech Degree in Graphic Design and my BA Honours Degree in Psychology. In-between, I have done a number of short courses and aim to do at least one each year as I really believe strongly in life-long education and continually up-skilling yourself. And of course, I do love learning new things.
How did you get started & come up with this concept: I find myself always trying to solve problems or challenges and having completed my psychology studies, which included early childhood development, and understanding the importance of developing your mind & ensuring you stimulate the mind and practise good mental health even as an adult, I further realised that many new moms were not fully aware of the importance of infant visual stimulation from birth and what they needed to expose their little ones to or how. So, naturally I wanted to use my knowledge and my skills to create something beautiful, practical and something that would educate and provide a platform for sharable knowledge. Brainy baby became the creative outlet for that problem solving and the desire to design something for good practical use.
So, putting design, practicality and psychology together and the idea of brainy baby was born. I put the brainy baby logo into the design of the cloth as I love the idea that this simple name in itself would tell people that this is for your child’s brain development – and the education would take it’s own course from there. This journey has been rather unsuspecting yet wonderful in how it has just grown. I had just five brainy baby visual stimulation cloths made up in March 2018 and the only reason I made 5 was for cost effectiveness – I didn’t really think that I was going to make any more and I was just going to give them to friends that were having little ones at the time – I just needed to get the idea out if my system … but when I got that first cloth I just got so excited and a couple of my friends saw them and thought it was a really good idea and so I started designing packaging that would show and describe the benefits of this as a “real” product and I then created an instagram page and one by one people started enquiring and giving really positive feedback and before I really realised it I had a brand on my hands 😊 From there is has grown, as has the range of products that I have added as the ideas have come.
Why is black & white so important for babies: Newborn babies are born with retinas that are not fully developed. Your retina helps you differentiate colour in the world around you, but a baby’s brand new retina can only detect high contrasts between black and white, or light and dark objects. While adults can distinguish the differences between hundreds of different shades and colours, a newborn baby can only distinguish between stark contrasts such as black & white. This critical phase is from around 0-5 months old, before they are able to start seeing other colours and identify other visual stimulus.
Babies crave input to stimulate their brain development and the brain builds itself by forming connections. Of all the five senses, vision takes the longest to develop but it also has the highest impact on the brain. The more visual stimulation your baby receives…the more her neural network will expand and connect. A well connected brains result in a brainy baby! With continual stimulation, your baby’s retina, optical nerve, and visual parts of the brain will thrive from the use of the Brainy Baby Stimulation Cloth’s high contrast visuals.
Research shows that this type of infant stimulation will help calm and soothe your baby as well as increase concentration skills, enhance natural curiosity and stimulate the creation of brain cell connections.
What are the different products that you sell:
The Brainy Baby Visual Stimulation Cloth
The Brainy Baby Tiny Taglet
The Brainy Baby Dinky Dangles
The Brainy Baby Mama Planner
The Brainy Baby Mama & Papa Personalised Mugs
What is the most popular product: The Original Brainy Baby Visual Stimulation Cloth
How can people order from you: Just send a direct message and via any of the platforms below & I will respond with all the info you need. Facebook Instagram
Brainy Baby ships to all major centres around South Africa within approximately 2-3 working days.
Why would you recommend these as a gift for a baby shower: Brainy Baby is such a lovely gift to give a mama-to-be as it’s something unique and focuses on development, which is not always easy to find in terms of an affordable & extremely useful gift for a newborn. Moms also love its trendy design and that as cute as it looks, it is equally practical in that it can be used anywhere, folds up easily to take anywhere, can’t break, can be washed and the soft cloth it’s made from means it acts as a soothing sensory blankie too – so the new baba will get months and months of use out of this brainy little gift! It’s one of those must have items…
Why do you encourage people to support local: We have SO much to offer here in South Africa in terms of brilliant and creative products out there & it’s wonderful to be able to support these brands and small businesses that are built and fuelled by passion and purpose.
Quote you live by: Don’t be afraid to just try… and use the God-given talents you have been blessed with because they will give your life real purpose and joy.
I placed an order as a gift for the next baby shower & when it arrived I immediately removed it from the packaging & had a look at the actual product for myself, but feel it running between my fingers. And I adore it! It is a great idea, & I hope it will be treasured by the family when they receive it.
Next time you are looking for a unique gift for a baby shower, or even for yourself, please pop over to Brainy Baby’s social media & have a look for yourself. They are just fab!
Sometimes there are things that I come across that just touch my heart, & that I wish had been around when I was a child. When I first saw “Happy To Be Me”, it was something that drew me in immediately & I knew that I had to find out more. Then I saw that one of my favourite small businesses (Charlie Loves Studio) was involved as well & I took this as another reminder that I needed to reach out immediately!
I absolutely adore the look of this book & definitely want to order one for my friend’s little girl. I think it is so important to encourage kids to see that being different is ok & that they should love themselves for who they are. It is something I still battle with so I wish this book had been around when I was little.
Your name: Jessica Smith
Business name: My business, which I suppose it is now (still cannot believe it), is called Love for a Little, or Have Love For A Little Heart, in full.
What do you do: I teach in a Grade 1 classroom as an assistant teacher and am in my final year of studying Foundation Phase Education. I also Au Pair for a family with three little girls, who are 7,5 and 4 years old… I started there when the youngest was 18 months old, so I am extremely close to them and share an amazing bond with the family, loving the girls like I would my own. My first book is dedicated to them. I then also run Love For A Little, which started as, and occasionally still is, a blog where I document my journey of working with children in all settings, and has now become my business, where I sell my books and now character doll as well. I write children’s books and illustrate my own as well. I am hoping to develop my “brand” to one day have my own store, fully stocked with my own books, dolls of all my characters, pajamas, nursery prints and all sorts, all to do with my characters. (A girl can dream).
Tell me a bit more about your book: My book is the first of my range that will deal with emotional issues and topics. It is about a little fox, Daphne May, who is a little smaller than the rest and she struggles to find her place in her big, wide world. There are unkind words and confirmation of her fears dragging her down, and although the calm and constant reassurance from her mamma is there, she cannot seem to shake needing approval from others. She decides to move on and focus on finding new friends, when she ends up being needed and helping BECAUSE of the very reason she felt odd, and so she learns the worthiness of herself, despite the odd challenge it may present. Loving herself was important and those who did not, simply lacked understanding, but one day they will know, one day we all will. I am only 23 and struggle all the time to stop negative self-talk and terrible thoughts about myself and the parts of me that I so wish to change… It has become really important to me to stop this and to start loving and accepting myself for who I am, because let’s face it, what we are so hung up over, is often not even noticed by the people around us and we end up wasting so much time worrying about ourselves, that we forget to be happy and to LIVE comfortably and confidently and to be ALIVE in our amazing bodies, that do so much for us.
Why do you think the theme & lesson from your book is so important for everyone: Since working with little ones is my absolute passion, it became so important to me to try and change this body image struggle that we face in today’s society and with today’s social media pressures…
How did you come up with this idea: My girls that I au pair and the children that I teach always tell me how beautiful I am and compliment me on every little thing I do and move I make… One day, I actually felt so guilty about the way I felt about myself, because how dare I see myself as anything less than perfect, when I have a thousand little eyes loving on me and all that I do, everyday? So I thought to myself that writing this story would hopefully feed them so much self-love and help them to realize that it is completely okay to be different and to look different, and that we need to embrace our own uniqueness and accept ourselves, and also accept those around us, for all that we are, and for all that we are not. That is not to say that there won’t be unkind words and comments from others, dragging us down, but we need to teach our children that despite what others may think, do or say, what truly matters, is what comes from within. I wanted to give children the tools to understand that they are special and that they are needed in this world and to also understand how important it is to realize that accepting themselves and others is important for us to realize our importance. I could go on and on and on, but in the end the message is strong, bold and extremely simple: JUST LOVE. I have loved children’s books from day one of working with them and being exposed to it again in my adult life. It takes you on a journey of humor and hidden messages that we never quite stop needing to hear. I love that I can reach adults and children through my books, as they read to their little ones.
How long has it taken for this to come into being a physical book from your first idea: I wrote the book one evening and it sat around for a year and a bit, needing illustrations… I didn’t believe that I had what it takes, but when I realized that no one was going to make my ideas come to life, I got to it myself, and I was surprised as what I could create. I always wanted it to be child-like, imperfect, watercolor happiness and I tried to achieve just that. In about two years from when I wrote the story, I published it myself.
Have you always wanted to write & illustrate a book: I have always loved writing and never knew what to write, so when I found this passion and love for children’s literature, I knew I had a dream to harvest.
I see another one is in the pipeline – can you tell us more: In a couple days, my second book will be printed and on sale, called “See You Later Alligator” It deals with separation anxiety and coping mechanisms for children, promoting independence and confidence, reassuring them…
I am super excited to see that you have done a colab with Charlie Loves Studio. How did this come about: When I saw Charlie’s work, I immediately had a vision and acted on it. It started with me sending her an Instagram message and when she said she was keen to take on the challenge, I knew I would not stop until we could make it a reality!
Where can people buy your package (book & doll) from: If people want my book, they can buy it from Blume co. (boutique in Port Elizabeth) or Summerlane and Little Things (both stores in East London), otherwise our online stores are Bella Poppelina, Nordic Munki, Baby Bug Boutique, Laatlam Gifts and now of course, Charlie Loves Studio. To get the book and doll package, you can message or email me or Charlie Loves… We are currently promoting the package at a special price of R395 for both, IF your order is in before Wednesday! (The book retails for R120 and the doll for R325, with a combo deal of R425), So R395 gives a great discount and saving! Please, anyone who is keen, can contact me for any questions, I am always so happy to help (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0835559204).
Quote you live by: I have all these wild dreams and started with nothing and it all seemed impossible, but I did not stop until it was done and now I just dream all day and work so hard to make sure that I realize all my dreams for the future, because I want to make a difference, and I want to keep living out my dreams forever… So I would say, on that note, that something simple I love to hear and to believe in and to preach is: “YOU CAN”, you are never too old, too young, too poor or too bad at something. Believe in yourself and always remember that “YOU ARE YOUR MINDSET”.
How did you become involved in this project: Jessica messaged me and asked if I would make her a doll based on her lead character. I had to check it out and loved what I saw – the message was about self acceptance and self love and it appealed to the Charlie Loves brand as well as the heart of a mother.
What made it really stand out for you: The message. We all want to be loved and accepted, its a basic human need. But the reality is that we live in a world where there is far too much opinion and comparisons. If I asked you if you wanted to created a different reality for your children, one where they are confident and love themselves in a balanced way, and not let the opinions of others shape their worlds – I’m sure you would raise your hands and say, “yes, yes, yes”. So when Jessica brought the book to me – I said YES! As a mother of a 3 year old and 5 year old, I know that I have a key job in laying a solid foundation on which my kids can ground themselves when life happens. Many habits are behaviors that instilled from little and are hard to break as we progress – self love and acceptance (not arrogance and entitlement) is a gift that I can try to instill in my princesses and books like these make it able to not only tell little ones, but also show them. I know that this book is going to touch parents lives and little hearts in such a big way. To think that I had a part in all of this is a huge blessing – am so grateful that Jess asked me.
How long did it take you to bring Daphne May to life: Gosh, I think it took as 3 to 4 months to get here – it was between my peak season and holidays too – so perhaps that’s why.
That and I suppose my dolls are trial and error – this means that I design my dolls from scratch and there are a couple of flops before we get it right.
Tell me more about JAM: Joint Aid Management – or JAM, is an institution that helps Africa help itself – by teaching them to farm the land and feed the most vulnerable. Children. My heart hurts when a child (born in innocence) has to suffer the pains of not only impoverishment, but undernourishment and hunger – I also feel for the parents – I can only imagine the emotion pain a parent goes through when they find themselves in circumstances so desperate, that as much as they try – its never enough. (If you have Netflix – watch the story: “The boy who chased the wind” – a beautiful program of perspective and hope). I cant save the entire world, but I can do something, no matter how small – and that for me is JAM – one meal at a time.
How does buying this combo benefit more than what people realize: Daphne becomes more than a fictitious character – because she is tangible, children find her all the more relatable.
I wont be surprised is Daphne soon becomes a close friend and lovey.
I see unfold in my minds eye – a mommy notices that her child has been very quiet and excluded at play school (I’ve met enough mummy friends to know this is a reality :). Then, just as if by magic, mommy comes across a little fox named Daphne May and her story – that night mommy and her child go on an adventure with Daphne May – they both unravel a real life lesson as they read the book together … the next morning mommy hands Daphne over to her precious little one and whispers something in her ear…Daphne is a symbol of courage and like all of her dolls, she is more than just a doll.
Oh be still my heart – if this is what a book and a doll have helped accomplish, it is the greatest reward.
Anything else you want to add: I love what I do and it is such a pleasure and honor to work with Jessica Smith 🙂 – I’m sure there are many more characters to come and more books too.
Today (27/03/2019) is the last day you can place your order for the special offer at their discounted price, so make sure you get in quickly! I really think this is a book that we can all learn from – no matter. Plus the fact that Daphne May has been brought to life makes it all that much more exciting. I can’t wait to cuddle my very own…
One of the very first friends I made in Joburg had her baby shower this past week. I always love to give gifts that I am sure nobody else would think of & find little gems that fit the personality of the parents. My friend is one of those super organised people – she always arrives at meetings with her daily planner, weekly planner, & diary. She makes notes of everything, & always manages to stay on top of everything that comes her way. This is going to be her first baby, & I wanted to find her something that would ease the stress & would suit her A-type personality.
When I saw a post that Jislaaik! had one of these gorgeous baby journals, I felt like I had hit the jackpot! I have never seen anything quite like it, & the whole concept intrigued me. Along with all her other locally-made gifts (including from SillyBilly, The Curious Kitten & a vendor at The Field Market), I was excited to add this to the gift bag & present it to Shevaun.
I received such great service, fast delivery & knew that I had to share this gem with all of you!
How did you come up with this idea: I am a mom of two girls based in Johannesburg and a tiny bit crazy over stationery. I created the With Love Baby Journal in 2018 partly because of aforementioned obsession! Seriously though, being a mom is chaotic and through implementing small habits we can be intentional about our family lifestyle.
I feel that as a person who aims to be organised in my work life, when I had my babies it made sense to bring some organisation to our family life.
I am always looking for tools to help me stay on top of things and when I had my children I wanted to add routine to our lives. With my first born I pretty much made my own template pages and had it printed and bound at Post net.
I was prompted to create the Journal when my second born was a baby, as I could not find what I was looking for in SA. I needed a book that was beautiful, practical and simple to keep track of my little one’s routine over a 5 – 6 month period at a time.
I know there is an ‘app’ for everything but it simply did not work for me.
What does your journal track: The With Love Baby Journal provides a snapshot of your baby’s daily routine. The Journal tracks feeds, sleeps, milestones, literally everything that a mom wants to keep track of for her and her baby. The Journal is also designed for the village it takes to raise your child. Therefore granny or your nanny can (and must) also use it.
Why would you recommend them for new parents: Having a new baby is overwhelming but staying on top of your baby’s daily routine does not need to be. It can be simplified by the basic act of writing it down and then carrying on to focus what you as a mom need to. You special bonding time with your little baby.
You have so many things to remember and think about when you bring home your baby (feeds, pumping, sleeping, etc.) By using the Journal you take care of that and only FOCUS on yourself and caring for your baby.
What is your favourite part of the journal: My favourite part if the daily journal pages. You can capture your baby’s whole day, and add notes, comments, whatever you need to. At the end of the day you can see how your baby’s day went.
– This was important at the newborn stage as I would often lose track of what happened (mommy brain!).
– Keeping track became imperative when I returned to work from maternity leave, as my nanny could write down the routine. When I returned from work I was fully in the loop of how my baby’s day went.
– Now I have these journals from when my little ones were babies and it really makes beautiful keepsakes. I love going back and paging through my daughters tracker journals.
Why do you love being a mom: My favourite part about being a mom is that my daughters make me want to be a better person. I know it sounds so cliche but I am always reflecting on this. When I am not feeling good or having a bad time, I always think of what example I am setting for them and it makes me do better and be better.
What were some of the toughest parts of being a new mom: For me, it was learning that I am not in control of everything and that motherhood is NOT perfect and never will be. I can implement little routines and structures but it will never be perfect and THAT IS OKAY.
How can people order these journals, & how much are they: The With Love Baby Journals can be ordered directly on our website.
They are R 330 each. I do partner with three online stockists whose details are also listed on the site.
Quote you live by: There is no way to be a perfect mother. But a million ways to be a good one.
Anything else you want to add: I would love it if you guys would follow me on Instagram as I love engaging there on a daily basis.
Also , These books are designed, printed and bound in South Africa.
Don’t you absolutely adore these? I think every new mum should make use of this tracking journal & it is such a great baby shower gift – especially for those super organised mums, or those that are going to be returning to work & getting some help with their little miracle.
Cheralle, I really hope that your business continues to go from strength to strength. I have loved getting to know you a little better & appreciate all the time & effort you put into your beautiful business.