I love finding interesting ways to decorate my house, or unique gift ideas. I have all different pictures of our family all around our house, and I really appreciate hand-crafted gifts for myself – and this is often what I will choose to gift others too. This is why I was so excited when I came across the page Woven Whimsy.
Danielle is so creative and can make custom orders for you, your friends, and your family. She very kindly allowed me to interview her for my blog, and I can’t wait to show you some examples of her gorgeous work and ideas brought to life.
3 fun facts about you: I used to play the saxophone in high school, I can’t clench my toes, and I have a PhD in Human Genetics 😊
Tell me a little more about your business: As Woven Whimsy, I make and sell fibre art. This initially started as woven tapestries, but more recently my focus has shifted to custom-made embroideries.
Where did the idea come from: Whilst on my second maternity leave with my daughter in 2018, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. At that time, weaving was just beginning to become popular, and I decided to try to make a loom with scraps of wood and nails that were in our garage. My first attempt was a disaster, but after some practice I started to improve. I think my husband was a bit terrified of having woven tapestries covering every surface of our house, so I decided to try to sell them. My following grew slowly over a year or two. In June last year I decided to embroider a “C” for my daughter, Cara. A friend’s mom saw the photo on Facebook, and commissioned an “A” for her granddaughter. The response to the embroidered monograms has been incredible, and embroidery is now the main focus of Woven Whimsy.
Have you always been a creative being: Very much so. I’ve always had a creative heart, although I don’t think that I’m particularly artistic. I grew up with a mom and gran who would knit and sew, and I enjoyed arts and crafts throughout my youth. But I’m also a bit of a nerd, and went on to study genetics at varsity. Today, I’m a molecular geneticist in a private pathology laboratory, but I’ve always relied on creativity for my “soul food”. I have an amazing husband and two very busy kiddies, so it’s not always easy to find time for these things, but I’ve realised that it’s so important for my sanity.
What is your personal favourite piece: It’s difficult to say, but probably my first embroidered monogram, the “C” for Cara.
Do you do custom orders: Yes, I primarily do custom orders.
What are the different products you offer: At the moment my main focus is embroidered monograms and ultrasounds, although I occasionally do other custom pieces if requested.
How can people order from you: Some of my products are listed on my website, but it’s usually easier to message me via email or Instagram to get the conversation started.
Why do you love what you do: I get to make pretty things, and people want to display them in their homes! It still blows my mind some days.
Aren’t Danielle’s designs absolutely gorgeous? And don’t you want to rush over to place your order for one right now?
Please try to support local and support small businesses as much as possible. They are the people that need us all now more than ever, and do a literal happy dance whenever their businesses are supported!
When my friend Jane Linley-Thomas posted about some gorgeous earrings that she had had made by ladies living in Valley of 1000 Hills, I knew that I had discovered an absolute gem! Not only is this project empowering women, but it is also providing them with a skill that can be passed from generation to generation, and giving them a chance to earn an income so they can offer a better life for them and their families.
Philippa Spark is the wonderful lady behind this great project, and when I reached out to her to see if I could feature this business on my blog, she immediately jumped on it. And seeing the creations that have been made have really reminded me of how much I love these – and what a great Christmas gift they would make.
3 fun facts about you: • My perfect day would start with champagne and end with… champagne. • I would love to meet, and even have lunch with, Kamala Harris. • My dream home would be a petite penthouse apartment in the 6th or 7th arrondissement of Paris with an outdoor terrace overlooking the roof tops and chimney pots of the city I love most in the world.
Tell me a bit more about what you do: I work with women and some men in the Valley of 1000 Hills on the outskirts of Durban, South Africa, creating beautiful, bespoke beaded items for customers the world over.
What makes your jewellery so special: We use only the best quality glass beads out of the Czech Republic and we use only the best quality beaders. We invest a huge amount of time in proper training and therefore we have an incredible team, creating the “best of the best” items possible.
Do you do custom orders: Yes, absolutely.
How can people order from you: Most customers order through Instagram, which is working very well. I am always available to help and to reply to any queries that come through to me.
What is your personal favourite set: I have many! There are so many different items to love, so it is tricky to choose, however, I do love the new range I have just launched called the “Saint Cloud” range – named after a suburb in Paris (naturally).
What have been your most popular items: • The entire Frida range. • Tassel earrings of all shapes and colour combinations imagineable.
Why do you encourage people to support local: We need to do what we can to support our people. As a country we need to unite and this is a fine way to do it. We are stronger together.
Can you tell me a little more about the ladies that make these works of art: At present we have a team of twelve ladies and one man who work with us pretty much full time. They are all (every single one of them) supporting their families through their craft and as such, every single order facilitates the upliftment and the support of multiple families in the area. A fact that makes my heart soar with joy.
Quote you live by: “What is meant for you will not pass you by.” “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
Anything else you wish to add: I wish only the best for our entrepreneurs, for our country, for the world. Today and every day.
Aren’t these beyond gorgeous? And wouldn’t they make such a divine Christmas gift? Please consider supporting local businesses when choosing your gifts – and what better than something unique, handmade, and put together with so much love. And I love their Christmas baubles too! Every year husband and I choose a special decoration for the year – I think I may have to order some of these for 2020.
I first “met” Nombuso during lockdown when she interviewed me for a segment on SABC about living with a rare condition during the pandemic. We have kept in contact, and she often sends me the most beautiful messages to keep me motivated and smiling.
Recently she contacted me to tell me about her most recent venture, where she is personalising Summer straw hats. I don’t know about you, but I have always seen these on Pinterest and Instagram, and have been wanting one of my own for the longest time, but had no idea where to order them from. I immediately jumped up and down, and told her I DEFINITELY wanted one of the blush pink ones. And now, I can’t wait for you to see more about her gorgeous business…
Your name: My name is Nombuso Mahlangu
Business name: Nombz Personalized Hats
Social media handles:Instagram and Twitter but I run my business mostly from WhatsApp: 0726847053 for all orders and enquiries 🌻
3 fun facts about you: • I’m an avid reader but I sometimes buy more books than I read. • I’m a good singer and think one day before I die, I’ll be a Superstar. • I love pets, all pets and I sometimes borrow my neighbors cat without him knowing because Mia (the cat) and I have a special bond.
Tell me a little more about your business: I started collecting summer hats when I would frequent Mozambique for my summer vacations, which I would take every year in November without fail. I then started seeing other travelers with their own personalized hats even if it wasn’t their names but if it was a group of girls they would all have a theme and embroid their hats accordingly.
One thing bothered me though I never saw those hats personalized in African names or South African names such, Lebo, Asanda, Rorie and I wanted to be the person who brings that joy to everyone by rendering such services.
When I discovered that I can do that, then the most exciting part of learning how to select fonts and digitize was amazing as I work with a guy named Clet, he knows how finicky I am about fonts for the names and he made that process a breeze.
The day I started I think I had two orders from a lady who works at Old Mutual and soon after I used her pictures everyone suddenly wanted.
I am super excited with where my business is going and can’t wait to work with more corporates.
What makes your hats different to others available: hahahahaha I love this question, literally no one can steal your hat because it has your name on it and straw hats are a definite lifesaver for the sun both for your face and shoulders. Plus I even have the super sizes.
How can people order from you: Yay 💃🏽my favorite part, people can reach me directly on WhatsApp 0726847053
Do you do custom orders: Yes, yes and yes that’s the whole point of the company. Doing what you want and how you want it.
What is the price range of these: R250 for the hat with anything you want embroidered + R99 courier fee – Only if you not around Joburg or Pretoria. I have my super size for R350.
Do you deliver throughout South Africa: yes I do 😁
What are your different colour options: • Cream white • Black • Blush pink • Yellow • Red • Beige • Tan
Quote you live by: Always show up!
I am SO excited to receive my hat – I have asked Nombuso to surprise me with the font and size of the hat. I promise I will be splashing this all over my social media pages, and with the extreme heat we are experiencing currently it is the perfect time to get your order in before she becomes too busy.
Why not get one as a gift for a friend that is getting married? I can just picture how cute this would be on a honeymoon, or even on a girls’ trip.
Nombuso, my dear friend, I am so grateful to have met you and I really wish you all the best with this very exciting venture. Sending you all the love and positive vibes that you deserve x
I know, it has been a while since my last blog. The last few weeks have been a blur, with many days rolling into one another, and 12 hour workdays becoming the norm. I feel like I am on a hamster wheel, and could be thrown off at any moment. BUT, I love the work that I do and am so grateful that I do still have a job after lockdown.
My feature today is on a small business that has been on my radar for some time, and I am so excited to be able to feature Bitchin’ Tees on my blog today, as I am sure that you will love Corne and her business as much as I do – plus she makes unicorn gin, which obviously peaked my curiosity even more!
I can’t wait for you to read more about her, get to know this business better, and I am sure that you will want many of her creations for yourself (and your friends).
3 fun facts about you: I am a jeans and tshirts kinda girl. Although I am a very proud South African, I am very much a wannabe American – I want to celebrate all of their holidays… I am sure you would have noticed I am an avid follower of Hastag holidays. Any excuse to celebrate. Apart from our Gin, champagne is my fav drink.
Tell me a little more about what you do: I am a Tax Accountant by day – I work for an international IT firm’ headoffice where I look after the tax affairs of the South African entities. But by night, my the tshirt ninja makes her appearance. 😊 I studied at RAU / UJ, and I have a masters degree in South African and International Taxation. That kept the left brain Corne happy until I had kids. I started needing a creative outlet….and just after my last baby, I had the slogan tee brainwave. I have always loved slogan tees and my pinterest boards were and still is full of them. My husband has an entrepreneurial streak and he always said I should start up a little business of my own, and boom, the rest is history.
What makes your tees so special: My tees are made by a mom, for moms! I felt the need to make lovely mommy tees and some passive agressive or quirky tees for those tough mommy days that no one really talks about. I wanted to make mamas smile amid parenting chaos. I wanted moms to feel heard. Bitchin Tees aims to celebrate all the beautiful, quirky, and funny moments of being a mom but keeping it real by letting the t-shirts say what is really on their minds.
What pushed you to start this business: The need to eventually own my own time is what pushed me to start Bitchin’ Tees. My kids are getting bigger, and I want to be there for them as they need me for school activities etc. Also as mentioned, my husband has this entrepreneurial streak and he encouraged me to start something that I could call my own. Bitchin’ tees is my 4th baby – probably the girl that everyone keeps asking about. lol 😊
I see you have recently added gin to your range – please tell me about these: This was all my husband. Before lockdown, he and one of his best friends ordered a copper still from Spain – for a hobby…then lockdown happened, and the delivery of our pot was seriously delayed. Between the first and second alcohol ban, our pot managed to get through the borders and delivered. They then started playing around with rum, whiskey brandy and gin… and we called it Prohibition, cause we were in prohibition. 😊 We were doing research on gins, and flavours and I got the idea of adding edible glitter to our gin, to make it pretty….. and if you know me, you know I like anything and everything with pink, glitter and sparkle. During the research, we found our flagship flavour and an FDA approved alcohol glitter… and BOOM, “Unicorn” was born. At this point, our fantasy range was born and we have a range of gins which are as delicious as they are beautiful to look at! Magical Unicorn, Enchanted Galaxy and Mischievous Mermaids are some of the flavours in the range.
Why do you encourage people to support small businesses: You know that old saying saying “hand made with love”…. This is why I support small businesses and would like people to support small business. I take so much care in each and every t-shirt that gets made. Getting to know my customer, why they want the slogan they have chosen and getting to be part of their everyday lives when they send me pics with them in their tees. From there a friendship blooms. They know that they are not only invoice number 2689, they are an actual person with a name. In it makes me feel amazing that I get to make a difference in someones lives… to make them feel special.
Do you do custom orders: I do – 60% of my orders are custom. 😊 again, that’s why building the relationship mentioned above is so important for me.
What have been your most popular items: The most popular items by far were our naughty valentines briefs! Mama’s still got it for their hubbies! Lol. Quarantine Father’s day and Mother’s day apparel was huge for obvious reasons. After that – our Tjommies tee was a winner. This was inspired by the owner of Jelebebe Thea Jonker! A bunch of times, my friends just sends me pics of tees and I try it out. And this one was by far a hit. Our Harry Potter Baby Items was a winner – I have a whole bunch of clients raising little wizards!
What is your personal favourite item: Anything and everything WONDER Woman and glitter …. And there is one specific cup, that I love.
Quote you live by: Ignorance is bliss. Most of my successful endeavours were achieved when I did not know what was coming my way. If I had known, I might never have gone for it, I might have been too afraid.
Anything else you want to add: I want Bitchin Tees to be a one-stop shop of happiness for everyone who visits my store. A shop where moms (ladies) can come to shop mainly for themselves, whilst adding little goodies for the rest of the family in the cart as well. We started with ladies T-shirts, and we added caps, tote bags, cups, baby onesies and dad tees to the site. We also now have the gin range, and we have also added the prohibition range of whiskey, rum and brandy to our shop.
Corne, you are SUCH a joy, and I have loved getting to know you better. I can’t wait until we can meet for our cake and coffee, and I definitely need some of that Unicorn Gin in my house!
Please support this stunning business for any custom orders, gift ideas, and just to spread a little more kindness in the world. You won’t regret it.
When I saw Dear Deer sharing an image that they had had done, I absolutely loved the soft colours, the style and the gentleness of the images. Rubina’s social media is beautiful, and immediately draws you in as you get a snapshot into not only her talent, but also her passion for what she does. I am sure that you will fall in love with it too as you see her gorgeous creations and creativity.
What are 3 fun facts about you: I love to travel, love dogs, and love music.
Tell me a little more about your business: Fleur de Mai started out of the blue really. I saw some cute illustrations on Instagram and started learning. I started in November 2019 and has been going since. My online store is launching in the near future with a brand name change.
How would you describe your style of art: I love minimalistic and neutral colours for my illustrations. But once in a while i will have a pop of colour in there.
Have you always been creative: Not at all. I am more analytical than creative but i started learning and find out you can do anything you set your mind to.
Do you do custom orders: I do custom orders for weddings, birthdays and all occasions 🙂
How much is an order from you: A single portrait is R350 and every additional person added is R150.
What is your favourite piece that you have done: There are so many and all of them are so unique. My favourite changes every week lol.
Why do you encourage people to support local: Local businesses strive to bring the best for its people and without us supporting them they do not survive and by our support we are helping them build their dreams.
How did lockdown affect you: It did not really. it allowed me to have more free time to spend on my designs.
Quote you live by: Different doesn’t mean wrong. I love this saying because we are all different and we can all learn from each other and that’s the beauty of being different
Anything else you want to add: I think as an artist and small business, growing an audience on Instagram is hard and sometimes discouraging but I have learned that every like and comment is special because someone took the time to like and to comment and we have to appreciate every little thing that makes our community on Instagram. Likes and follows are not the most important thing. Staying true to the brand and delivering is what makes you, YOU!
Don’t you adore her? And her style of art?
It was such an honour getting to know Rubina, and she has been so kind right from the very first message I sent to her. I cannot wait to see her flourish, and more of her images tagged across your social media.
Have a beautiful day lovelies, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog, support local, and always choose kindness x
I love natural wood products. Products that are made with so much love, and hold memory in every grain. Products that have been sawed, and cut, and shaped into something new and special. Products that aren’t just available in bulk from a chain store, but are lovingly individually curated and created.
A friend recommended Fresh Timber to me, and I was intrigued. They claim to bring your Pinterest ideas to life, and their products are absolutely gorgeous. From trinket bowls, to plant stands, to chopping boards, to shelving, to furniture, to planter boxes – they make it all. And this morning I received something of my own…
This gorgeous chopping board arrived safely in it’s own storage box, and I had no idea what was inside. I excitedly opened it up, and couldn’t believe the thought and care that went into this gift. It is personalised with my logo, and is beyond beautiful! In fact, I think I will use it for photos rather than chopping as I can’t bear the thought of any scratches on it… (Don’t judge me!)
Tell me a bit more about your business:
Fresh Timber is a carpentry business focusing on custom wooden creations that move you from your vision board to your ideal living space. The focus is taking the ideas we tend to daydream about and create something tangible we can enjoy in the home for years to come.
Where did the idea for this come from:
I have always had a knack for working with my hands and carving beautiful items from wood for my family. My Oupa encouraged this craft from a young age and I continued it into adulthood. Fresh Timber was born when my wife and I decided to bring together each of our respective skillsets shortly after she was retrenched. We decided we wanted to make the most out of an otherwise unpleasant situation by creatively nurturing our talents along the way.
What makes your products different to others:
We believe in crafting investment pieces that will last and be ideal for your space you have as well as incorporating your own creative flair into the mix. Your dreamy creation should be enjoyed in your home because you dreamt it; instead of only being given the option of “off the shelf” items which can sometimes feel limiting. We love to use trees that are no longer living or have been condemned to a burn pile. When the project calls for specifics in woods, we focus on non-indigenous species from our local sawmills.
What are the different products you currently sell:
We are constantly expanding on new smalls to add to our range alongside our custom larger furniture. Currently, we sell a variety of cutting boards, cheeseboards, endgrain butcher blocks, trinket bowl holders, Lazy Susans and personalized engagement ring boxes.
What is your personal favourite product:
It’s a tough choice because we are friends of variety and creativity in all of our custom work we do. However, our floor and desk lamps are close to our hearts as they are satisfying to make and shed light on a number of skills that come into play in their manufacturing.
Do you do custom pieces: Yes, majority of our work is custom made to our client’s specific spaces in their homes.
How can people order from you:
Some of our smalls items can be ordered on our online shop. Otherwise we can be emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org or on what’s app on 078 5144 541 where we can engage in discussion and vision for the project. An image or two also goes a long way 😉
Why do you encourage people to purchase products from small businesses:
Small to medium enterprises make up a large percentage of South Africa’s economy and growth. By supporting a small business, you not only keep the lights on for that business but you contribute to a growing workforce and to an individual’s livelihood – and that makes all the difference.
Quote you live by:
“It’s great to be alive” – my Oupa.
“The answer will always be no unless you ask.”
Guys don’t you think these are gorgeous?
I can’t yet decide what is my favourite (besides my personalised chopping board of course), but I do have my eye on the pot plant stand and planter boxes. Plus when I saw images of their other work on their social media, I couldn’t but save them as gift ideas for Christmas and upcoming birthdays. And that circular bookshelf above? What a talking piece!
This was such an honour to get to know Ryan and Alison better, and I am sure that we will slowly be adding more of their pieces to our home over time. Pop over to their website and social media to see which is your favourite – then let me know in the comments below.
During lockdown, I put much time and effort into finding new businesses that really spoke to me. I spent time chatting to these business owners, and seeing who I truly resonated with. I never want to recommend a business if the owner is unfriendly or unhelpful, and certainly if I discover bad reviews about them.
One of my absolute gems that I discovered is Ruby Tuesday Resin. Not only is Ruby one of the kindest people I have ever met, her products are also top class and she deserves every bit of recognition that she gets. My very own chopping board arrived this morning, and I spent some time just admiring the workmanship and love poured into this product. It really is a statement piece, and one that I will keep safe forever. As a friend said, they would make beautiful wedding or anniversary gifts too. I can’t WAIT to show you more about this gorgeous business, and I can almost guarantee you will go rushing over to her social media to see more for yourself.
Tell me a bit more about your business:
I specialise in unique hand crafted resin cheeseboards, serving boards, coasters, bespoke coffee tables & artwork.
What makes your products so special: Each board is unique, not one board looks the same. Even when I use the same colours on the same night or on the same shape board, the end result still differ.
Where did the idea to make these come from: My daughter had to do a project at university using resin. We both got so into the whole “new” resin movement and we were captured by the uniqueness of the art. I watched over 49 Meg worth of YouTube videos that month and soon I was dreaming about how to introduce it to the South African market. My Hubby soon had to become my business partner, resource manager and private banker.
Which is your personal favourite product: I import my resin and my colorants and I feel that it contributes to the uniqueness and finish of my products.
What makes your products stand out in comparison to others: I started about 3 years ago and was, and still is, one of the first people in South Africa to make resin cheeseboards. I haven’t seen another artist who’s boards/products look like my own. I love how unique each board looks & when seeing the end product, know how much work has gone into each board.
How can people order from you: I sell mostly through my Instagram feed and stories. I have had many requests for a website but due to the nature of my art and the fact that my boards are not mass produced and that not one looks the same – each one has to be photographed and published – and sometimes they get sold before I can even upload them.
Do you do custom orders: yes I do – but there is a lead time up to 14 working days as each board gets prepped, poured in layers. Each layer has to cure and this can be effected by the weather. Then the boards get sanded and branded by hand, oiled, photographed and published.
What are the different products you make: I mainly specialise in serving boards but do coasters, coffee tables & artworks too.
Quote you live by: ‘Lead so others will follow.’ I have had many people trying to copy and recreate my art – I see it as a compliment and inspiration. I help and give advice when people ask me – as so many has helped me on my journey.
Anything else you want to add:
Ruby Tuesday will be expanding to Kalk Bay, Bitterfontein and Franshoek soon & currently talking with a huge bespoke designer in Durban to launch a special/collaborative range. We will also be putting together some starter kits – to learn to do your own resin artwork. With this we are looking at merch and starting classes in the future & doing some exciting wine and resin evenings!
Each and every one is born with the same amount of creativity – the more you practice the better you become. I have had MANY ups and downs, failures, disappointments, financial hurdles. I’ve had the highest highs and the LOWEST lows. People have praised and criticised my art. My husband and my daughters are my biggest fans and without their support and cheers from the side-lines, I don’t think I would have been here, 3 years with countless long nights & struggles later and so proud of how far Ruby Tuesday Resin has come!
Aren’t these absolutely dreamy? And what a statement piece for any home.
I really encourage all of you to pop over to her social media profiles to have a look at her latest creations. She is also running an AMAZING competition alongside some other stunning brands, and you definitely don’t want to miss out on that.
Thank you so much Ruby for your kind heart, your love, your passion and for allowing me to interview you for my blog. It has been an honour getting to know you better, and I know that I will definitely be supporting you going forward.
I love beautiful art. I love pictures that make you think, pictures that you can spend hours looking at, and images that evoke emotions in you that you may not have been experiencing initially. I love hand-drawn art, that you can see the skill and time put into it. But most of all I love seeing people’s creativity coming through in their own special way.
I was drawn to Ilse through her yoga mats initially, and then I discovered there was so much more than “just” these mats. I saw her posts about her art special she is currently running (believe me, you will want to check these out), and I got totally sucked into her website and the wide array of art that she offers. I felt like I had walked through a portal into a whole new world, and that night I even dreamt about some of the pieces I had seen. That’s when I knew I needed to reach out to Ilse and find out more about NovaWoolf, and get to know the creator.
Tell me a bit more about Nova Woolf:
NovaWoolf is the result of the creative and idealistic part of myself merging with the pragmatic, strategic part. It’s my sacred space to dream and to do, and to share it all with you. It started as only an Instagram page, where I could post my drawings and thoughts. This quickly grew into my own creative studio where I had been offering my design & illustrations services, selling my artwork, and I’ve participated in art exhibitions, locally and internationally. A lot has happened very quickly in the last couple of years and my business is constantly evolving. One day, I was looking for a fresh canvas for my artwork & posted a mockup of one of my paintings called “MoonMagic” onto a yoga mat! It made so much sense, since I practice yoga and my choices for yoga mats at the time were essentially limited to pink plastic or purple plastic!! I really wanted to create something magical that is kind to our bodies and to our planet – something I would actually use every day. The yoga mat mockup post received an overwhelming response, so it only made sense that I pursue this further & create my own conscious luxury yoga lifestyle brand. There are so many things in the pipeline for NovaWoolf Art and NovaWoolf Yoga & I’m beyond excited to see where this all goes!!
I see you have stunning yoga mats – please tell me about them: NovaWoolf yoga mats (and soon-to-be released yoga props!!!) reflect an equal measure of scientific engineering, and thoughtfully curated art, to create a magical product that will become a treasured part of your yoga story. I believe this type of integration between body & mind, emotional value & physical performance, ecological consciousness & personal satisfaction are key to living a balanced, healthy, abundant life. I believe in quality over quantity, consciously curating your life and only owning items that add value to your life.
Our products are truly exceptional! Each NovaWoolf yoga mat is created from hand-painted designs, and all our mats are extra-large and extra thick to support all bodies and to cushion the joints. They are also biodegradable, vegan, and made from natural and recycled materials. They are free from PVC and toxins often found in other yoga mats and are created to be kind to your body and our precious planet.
Our yoga mats are specially engineered and meticulously tested to offer you only the best-quality and performance features, to ensure that you are fully supported during any style of yoga practice and in any environment.
We are very excited that we will soon be releasing an extended range of yoga props (cork blocks and straps) and you are the first to know!! 😀 And there will be loads more to come in the future! We have a very long list of dreams, to say the least.
Why are your products so different to others:
NovaWoolf is not just another lifestyle, or fitness brand. It is borne from the values characteristic of an atelier. Each product is created with the utmost care and conscious intention to add magic and beauty to the world. Each product is thoughtfully created, meticulously tested, refined, refined some more, and then lovingly handed over to the wonderful community we have come to love and authentically connect with. We do not simply aim to ‘sell’, but to share our story with the world. I still cannot get over how incredibly wonderful it is that something I painted one late night while processing my thoughts in the privacy of my home and listening to my favourite artists in the background, can end up on a product that someone else, someone anywhere on the planet, uses every day! This to me is extremely special and is one of the main motivations that lies behind everything I do, and now that NovaWoolf as a company does. The other primary motivation that keeps us centred on creating what we do, is that the world is in desperate need of more light, more beauty, more conscious creators, more kindness in every way possible. We are simply doing our part to create the world that we would like to live in : one where humans live in harmony with nature, practice compassion and non-violence to all creatures, where connection is more important than competition, and where holistic wellness and balance are prioritised.
What would you call the style of art that you do:
I suppose my visual style is a bit ambiguous. It has oscillated between contemporary minimalist illustrations with a monochromatic colour palette, vs. colourful, layered, more abstract expressive, ink and watercolour works. The overarching, or connecting, qualities of my work is usually expressive, loopy lines, and emotive subject matter that explores themes of healing, growth, transformation, and integration.
I suppose it’s worth mentioning that I studied design at Vega and went on to work as an art director, then strategist, designer / illustrator, stylist… you name it, I’ve done it! My design background has been hugely influential, since I was always comfortable working digitally. It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve started returning to my traditional art supplies. I’ve fallen in love with painting again and as a result I will be very hesitant to return to digital illustrations in the future, as I have been doing previously. I also studied psychology and completed my MA in social & psychological research, so this theoretical background, combined with my own lived experience, is the reason behind my emotive subject matter.
Moving forward, my monochromatic illustrations are something of the past as I am focusing now more on colour, traditional media, saying my goodbyes to thinking in black and white, and embracing a much more intuitive, richer, more joyously complex, divinely connected, layered and joyful existence 🙂
What inspires you to create these:
My art is just an expression of whatever it is that is moving through me. I know that sounds extremely contrived, but it’s the only way I can authentically describe it. It used to be quite an intensely anxious, heavy experience, but it has recently become a much more enjoyable and light, yet much more complex, experience. So, to answer your question – it all comes from within myself, or through myself, I’m not even 100% sure… It’s an almost mystical process for me – I generally don’t plan ahead too much and I create intuitively and almost while in a bit of a trance. Generally, I set up my favourite music, create a comfy safe space, and just kind of see what needs to be expressed.
What Emotions do you want these art pieces to evoke in people:
I can’t say that I have an agenda or an expectation of the outcome, of how other people receive or perceive anything I do, to be honest. I create what I want /need to, I share it freely, and I’m super grateful that others seem to find value in it.
Have you always been creative:
Yeah, as a child I did a lot of competitive dancing, singing, poetry performances, I played piano, guitar for a little while as well, and just basically participated in any creative pursuits I could at school. I was never really much into sports, although I did play netball and hockey – not particularly well, but I did it hehe. Thank goodness I’ve found yoga, hiking, and more recently, rock climbing, as an adult! Then of course pursuing creative studies at Vega and working in the creative world has also been a huge part of my life. I’ve kind of come full circle after pursuing psychological research as well, as I now lecture research to creative students at Vega , where I started 🙂 I love that I have finally found a way to balance my creative side with my scientific, strategic side and that I’m able to finally satisfy all the different parts of myself – by being an artist /designer, researcher and lecturer, and business owner & director! I always knew a 9-5 was not going to do it for me, so I’ve had to create my own path and I’m finally starting to see the fruits of all the struggle, self-doubt, feelings of misdirection, and isolation. This is what I think conscious, intentional, creative living is all about.
Do you do custom pieces:
Absolutely! I’ve done many commissions for clients locally, and globally.
How can people order from you:
Either via my online store, or by getting in touch via email, or simply via social media messaging.
How has this lockdown affected your business:
Gosh – it’s been terrible, but then its been ok again. Naturally, not being able to trade at all for so many weeks in lockdown has had a major impact financially. However, the silver lining is that now, more than ever, South Africans are finally awakening to E-commerce, after quite a slow uptake in previous years. I’m extremely grateful that E-commerce has been given the green light again and that we are back in business!
Why do you encourage people to support local:
So many reasons! The preservation of local businesses support the preservation of communities and causes; it ensures that macro-scale policies support the communities most affected by them; it ensures the recycling of revenue back into the local economy instead of flighting profits from local pockets abroad to support external structures; it also supports more job creation and improved protection of individual livelihoods and wellbeing; and it supports sustainable living as local businesses are more invested in living in harmony with the resources in their immediate environment that they depend on.
Beyond all this – its true that when you purchase from a small local business, someone does a little happy dance! At NovaWoolf, that someone is me & I 1000% make sure those dances actually happen!
Quote you live by:
Oh gosh, there are SO many. If I absolutely had to choose one, it would be this:
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
It always reminds me that magic happens when you can successfully balance creativity with strategy, planning with letting go, light with dark, yin with yang, art with science. The ancient teachings of yoga, and the science of contemporary psychology both echo this idea of integration and wholeness, rather than the way of individuation, separation and disconnection we have been immersed in in the modern world.
Isn’t Ilse an absolute treat? And doesn’t her art speak to your very essence? I am SO glad that I stumbled across more of her talent, and could definitely picture a whole wall in our house being adorned with different pieces from her.
And let’s take a moment to appreciate her yoga mats… Imagine the talking point they would be? And being able to practice yoga in your backyard and truly feel connected to the earth with a beautiful mat at your feet. Now THAT would get me out and doing it more often.
Please continue to support local wherever possible. And pop over to Ilse’s social media pages to see more of what she has been up to.
When it comes to art, there are so many different, unique styles & whenever I seem to think I have discovered that which I love the most I seem to discover another. Have you ever heard of “one line drawing”? It is as the name says, & coming across Olive & Arrow introduced me to this gorgeous way of capturing moments & I have fallen head over heels for her work!
I started following her on Instagram after she was mentioned in a post I saw, & couldn’t believe the emotion & how much detail she could capture through her one line drawings. Look at the pics above & below, & you can see what I mean!
This was taken from her website, & when I saw this I knew I had to reach out immediately. “One often comes across somebody with exceptional talent – but lacking professional and interpersonal skills. Or, one finds that likable personality – but without creativity and a sense of business ethics.”
Your name: Charise Steyn
Business name: Olive & Arrow Design, named after my daughter Olivia and son Hunter. Based in Hermanus, Overberg.
A bit more about what you do: I do a bit of everything, from logos to restaurant menus. I also do illustrations and my favourite – one line drawings. My one line drawings started out with me playing around and has grown into something I would love to do on a daily basis. I don’t see myself having a unique style of art, it all just comes naturally (from the heart) when it needs to. I also like playing around with different styles, so I never know what’ll be next.
When did I start: Olive & Arrow started slowly after my daughter was born and grew more and more after my son’s birth. Now its my third baby!
What did I do before this: What did I not do haha. Tried it all, art won!
Have you always been artistic: Yes, it’s in my blood. I’ve only now discovered that I can make a living from it.
Do you do custom pieces? Price range? My one line drawings are based on a photo you send me, but I’m always up for trying something new and different. One line drawings start from R900.
Favourite pieces to date: I don’t really have favourites, each piece is different. I am mostly proud of myself as I grow and get better and do things I haven’t done before.
Can people still order for Christmas: Yes, there is still a chance to place orders for Christmas.
How to place an order: To place an order just send me an email of your favourite photo(s) and I do the rest. It takes about a week to finish up the drawing, have it printed and then sent to its new home.
Why do you encourage people to support local: Supporting local really makes the owner do a little happy dance, it helps to build a dream and you really get a piece of the owners heart with each item you buy.
Quotes to live by: I’ve got two favourite quotes from Morgan Harper Nichols:
“Through all that bends and breaks, you are still wrapped in grace”
“When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents and those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same, you have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living. You are wrapped in endless, boundless grace. And things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday.”
You’ve made me think why I adore these quotes…
you are wrapped in endless, boundless grace. (this is just SO beautiful to me, constant reminder)
I think this sentence should just be my favourite quote, I’m making it a quote on its own.
Charise is currently busy with my pic – I sent her a few of my favourite photos of husband & me, & she is creating a surprise for me. I can’t wait to own a piece of this magic in my home & will always treasure this talent!
This is another one of my favourite pieces of her art, & probably the one that got me hooked into following her! We all know unicorns are my spirit animal & I love the freedom portrayed in this image.
Charise, thank you so much for your time & love. I am so glad we are in contact now, & thank you for sharing your skills with all of us! I truly hope that your gorgeous business will continue to thrive, & that I will see more of your art in some of my favourite places.
I absolutely LOVE handmade toys, & being someone who loves to crochet, I understand how much love & time gets poured into even the most simple of creations. These are not simple “things” that anyone can buy from any store, but rather something special that should be treasured forever. Through my blog about Jislaaik! Online Store, I came across Ruby & Rose Crochet. I love the look of all their work, & the fact that Michelle is empowering women & upskilling them is truly the cherry on top!
Your name: Michelle Pillay Business name: Ruby & Rose Crochet Social media handles:Facebook & Instagram What do you do: I’m a wife and a mom to four school going children, so I spend my days running around after them. Extra murals, sport matches etc. I’m a stay-at-home mom and do all the run around of buying the yarns for the ladies that I empower and delivering it to them and then collecting the finished items and delivering or couriering them to the clients. I do all the advertising and sourcing of clients. I have always had a love for yarn because my grannies used to knit and crochet items for their grandchildren.
How long have you been crocheting for: I have always known how to knit and am a beginner crocheter. Why do you love what you do: Firstly I’m empowering women who are not employed and are able to make an extra income while still being able to take care of their kids. How can people order from you: I finally have my own website, after two and a half years of hard work.
Do you do custom orders: We do a lot of custom orders for clients which we love to do. Why do you encourage buying handmade: Handmade items just have some kind of value , not in the money sense, you can feel the love and energy in each item. It’s an item that a child would cherish and keep and possibly hand down to their children. We have never had an unhappy customer. What is your favourite toy/product: Each and every new item I love, but my favourites would be the beautiful Ballerina mice, the gorgeous Girl and Boy bunny and the unicorn range.
Quote you live by: I don’t have a quote, but believe in Positive Energy and staying positive. Stay away from the negativity.
These products are really all so beautiful & would make a perfect gift for somebody else, or even yourself! These are something that would be treasured forever & are so unique. I could spend hours looking through all the images of these gorgeous handmade goodies, & I hope that you do the same.