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Better Box

Candice is a friend of mine that I met through Rare Diseases South Africa. She is such a brave woman, and is someone who is always looking for ways to make others happy. She reached out to me before lockdown about her idea for “Better Box”, and asked if she could include some of our Rare Bears in it. We discussed what she was planning to do, and I knew that this was really something special! Each box is put together with so much love and thought, and she is spreading kindness with every one sent out. Keep reading to learn more about this project, and see just how special it really is.


Your name: Candice Schutte

Business name: Better Box

Social media handles: Website, Instagram and Facebook

Some fun facts about you: I am a fun loving mom of 2 with a passion for anything creative and quirky. I have always been community driven working with Girl Guides Association SA, headed up CI for workplaces and was Miss Cansa 2000. I fundamentally believe in the value Kindness is Contagious and this is the mark I want to leave on the universe.

Tell me a little more about this business: Better Box was dreamt up in my hospital bed. Many times I lay in hospital having a real pity party for myself – the pinnacle being my 30th Birthday! I knew that people cared and were concerned for me but when you are chronically ill people assume that after a while you just ‘got this’. Actually though you don’t, because every time you end up back in hospital its a knock to your emotional and physical state. I just want Better Box to be the little glimmer of hope for people when they are at their low, this can be in any way , shape or form. Its a little Box of Happiness to let someone know that someone cares.

What inspired you to start it: I inspired myself to start. I am currently on medical disability due to my Rare Diseases and can no longer work in a traditional workplace. Most of the work for Better Box is co ordinated by me but my family are hugely involved due to my health. I lost my dad to Marfan’s Syndrome when I was 14 and my mom to Leukemia a few years back. While my mom went through chemo I stopped working to care for her and was at the hospital every day taking food and clothes to the others in the ward with her. I 100% know that is where my passion for this really started, I just had no idea the way my life and health would take me to Better Box.

Who are some of the brands that have come on board: The suppliers for Better Box have been carefully selected as I wanted to empower small businesses run by mommies, Rare Diseases patients as well as give back to a community in some way. I would not have Better box without the Rare Bear Project and they are an integral part of my boxes. Other brands include KwirkNation, Creative Junction, Mammamade, Knits and Knots, Wylie B Vinyl crafts, Gift Boss, Oh Soap Crazy, and Hope Soaps.

How can people order one: Please go to www.betterbox.co.za to order online and email hello@betterbox.co.za for any kind of customisation.

Why do you think this is such a great idea: So much love and care goes into preparing each box, the goodies inside are practical, fun and quirky. I dare you not to Smile!

Who do you think would enjoy one: Everyone loves to feel good and spoilt!

How did you decide on each item in the box: Our Signature Box the ‘Go Box’, is designed to include everything you would need for an emergency hospital stay – believe me I have forgotten more than one of these items even when I have prepared!

Whats in the box?
Everything you would need for a hospital visit !

  • Custom made drip friendly Better Box sleep shirt
  • Warm comfy socks
  • Bamboozles toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Mini soaps and sponge
  • Earphones to tune out and chill
  • A little something to snack on
  • Colouring in to keep the mind busy and relaxed

Other boxes: Snack Box, Bump Box for new mommies, Brave Box for little ones, Be happy Box, FU Cancer Box, Donate a Box and the Box Fund
We are also running a Pay it Forward campaign:
We challenge you to buy a box for someone you know or we donate to ,and nominate a friend to do the same, every 10th box will be up for grabs for the people that purchased to gift or keep for themselves! Pay it forward, kindness is contagious!!
Lets get a Better Box chain going!
Show off your nominations and acts of kindness and don’t forget to tag us! #payitforward #kindness #cancer

What has it been like living with a rare disease: The last 12 years have been exhausting and painful. I have had countless surgeries, 36 kidney stones, gone blind in my left eye and now chronic fatigue, pain and hands that do not co operate. I am however grateful that I finally have a diagnosis as well as the ability to speak up for those with rare Disease!

Quote you live by: It costs nothing to be kind.


I absolutely adore everything that Candice and Better Box stand for, and have loved seeing her dream come alive. She has even sent a box to a friend of mine who is currently battling cancer, and it made my friend feel so special as well as reminding her just how much she means to so many of us.

If you would like to get involved in this, or perhaps even purchase one for a friend, please reach out to Candice via social media or email. Speaking from experience, I can vouch for just how much it means to receive a gift while in hospital or feeling rotten – because no matter how “normal” it is to be admitted, it honestly never gets easier.


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Fresh Timber

Why do trees make the worst frenemies?

Because they are the best at throwing shade!

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…

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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!)


Your names: Ryan & Alison Venter

Business name: Fresh Timber

Social media handles: Facebook, Instagram and Website.

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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.

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Fresh Timber Heart Trinket Bowl

Fresh Timber Dinosaur Wooden Doorstop Compressed

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.

Fresh Timber Golden Snitch Engagement Ring box

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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.

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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 info@freshtimber.co.za 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 😉

Fresh Timber Chopping board multi colour strips

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Fresh Timber Round Butchers Blocks

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.”

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Fresh Timber outdoor wooden herb planter box with compost Com (1)

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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.


 

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Sunkissedstudio Design

Some time ago I wrote a blog about Samantha’s business, Sunkissed Handmade. I am a huge fan of her beautiful headgear, flower crowns, mermaid crowns and every single design she presents.  This past week I saw another post on her page where she showed the fact that she can now turn you/a loved one into a MERMAID, as well as creating digital art of your pets.  Now I don’t know about you, but I have always dreamt about being a magical being and this honestly excites me so much.  Plus I know that my animals are royalty at heart so her creations are right at the top of my birthday wishlist!

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Your name: Samantha Hanlon

Business name: Sunkissedstudio Design

Social media handles: Design – Facebook; Handmade – Facebook and Instagram; Photography – Facebook and Instagram

Tell me a bit more about how this business came about:  I have been running my own business as a freelance photographer and designer for almost 12 years now. Before I decided to work for myself, I worked as a fashion designer for suppliers to top retail stores and international brands.
I have been focusing on my photography and crown-making mostly, but when this lockdown started, I realised that it would need to change my focus.
My clients have come to expect a certain level of pretty, light and happy imagery from my photography and a delight for princesses, young and old, in my crowns. I wanted to offer the same feeling but in something digital.
I decided to promote my design page and particularly the fantasy portraits, as a whimsical escape from the harsh reality of life. They make the perfect gift in a time when we can’t leave our homes to actually give loved ones presents, and there are no courier costs involved. The A4 digital image can be sent to anyone with an email address anywhere in the world!

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Have you always been so creative:  Yes, absolutely.
I studied Textile design and then fashion design and worked in the fashion industry for many years as a graphic artist and designer, which is where I honed my photoshop skills, which came in handy when I started doing photography. I always have a creative project on the go.

Please can you tell me a bit more about the specials you are running at the moment:
I am currently offering A4 digital portraits for just R250 each during lockdown.
I have a variety of themes to choose from but an happy to make custom orders too.

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Where did these ideas come from:
I have always photoshopped fantasy images for fun, usually for birthday cards or making memes.  It always makes people so happy to get something personalised and meaningful as a gift.

Which have been your favourite mermaid & pet portraits:
I have to say, one of my favourites is the mermaid – purrmaid portrait I did of my cat Lilly.
I enjoy doing each artwork and love hearing how much my clients love them.

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Can people still order from you during lockdown & how will they receive their images:  Yes! I email your digital file to you, so it’s easy.

Who do you think your ideal clients would be:  My ideal clients are the same amazing people who love my photography and crowns.

“They are day dreamers and night thinkers, they love music, books, movies , art, sunsets, forests and oceans and all things that make this world a more beautiful place. They are people with imagination.”

What do you need from people to create these images:
I need 3-5 photographs emailed to me. I do offer some guidelines as to which sort of images work best.  You can email these through to me.

How has lockdown affected your business:
I have been unable to run my small business, I am a single mother and also support my parents and handicapped brother. So quitting is not an option.
Thankfully creativity is my super-power and I can draw on my experience and talent to keep providing for my family.

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Quote you live by:
“A person who is a master in the art of living makes little distinction between their work and their play, their labour and their leisure, their mind and their body, their education and their recreation, their love and their religion.
They hardly know which is which and simply pursue their vision of excellence and grace, whatever they do.
Leaving others to decide whether they are working or playing. To them they are always doing both”
― James A. Michener

Anything else you want to add:
Please support small businesses at this time. There is no such thing as an “essential” or” non-essential” business.
Every business is essential to the person who earns a living from it.

“Have courage and be kind….and keep day dreaming”

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Please follow all of Sam’s beautiful pages and support her artistic talent.  These would make great birthday gifts, lockdown happiness, anniversary gifts, or even simply just-because.  If you have always dreamed of magic, or if your daughter/niece/friend has a vivid imagination; why not make it a reality.  Or if your pets personality makes you picture them as a dame from the 1920s, or a court jester, or even a student at Hogwarts – make this happen by contacting Sam.  Her talent truly knows no bounds and she is one of the kindest people I have ever dealt with.

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VA-Tungsten

I scour the internet daily for competitions that I can enter – and hopefully win something. I have been quite lucky, but husband is forever saying to me, “Can’t you enter a competition that I benefit from as well?” So around Valentine’s Day I entered a few competitions with goodies for HIM, & I won the best prize of all – a ring from VA-Tungsten.

Warren used to work in finance. So yes, he was that man that was smartly dressed in a suit, with his hair combed and perfectly polished shoes. Unfortunately he was retrenched, and searched for over a year for a job. He knew he didn’t want to go back into this industry, and I have to say that I was grateful for this too. I feel like he lost a bit of his soul whilst working as a financial advisor, and he often came home more stressed than is healthy. So when he told me he wanted to work with cars, I was super excited – not only for him, but also for us as a family as I could see his happiness returning in leaps and bounds.

So he joined with 2 mates and began their business of car restoration. He works hard every single day and comes home filthy dirty, and stinking like oil and grease. But boy oh boy is he happy! And that makes me happy.

Back to why I was so excited to win this ring for him though… His original wedding band has my dad’s wedding ring melted down into Warren’s ring he had – so it holds a lot of sentimental value. And working with his hands, as well as getting down and dirty in the engines and running of cars meant this was getting scratched and damaged during his daily activities. He started to remove his ring when he left in the mornings, and this is just made juju in my opinion! So having a hardy tungsten ring was the best option.

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Plus did I mention how flipping gorgeous his ring is? We were given the choice of any ring on their website, and we spent ages scouring through what they have available before settling on TUR750 as what he wanted, and then popped into our local jeweller to get the correct sizing before placing our order. Within 2 days the ring was delivered to my office and it was even better than I hoped.  It is heavy, bold & absolutely gorgeous.

Keep reading to learn a little more about them…


Your name: Jason Steyn

Business name: VA-Tungsten

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Social media handles: Facebook, Instagram and Website

Tell me a bit more about what you do: We supply men’s Tungsten, Damascus and Silicone wedding bands.

What makes your jewellery different to others: Our service. (this I can definitely vouch for!)

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Do you do custom pieces: We used to, and maybe if we have the time.

Who are your target audience: Ladies and Men who are getting married mostly, and also ladies buying gifts for their partner or spouse. Also guys who have lost their rings.

Where can people buy your products from: We supply retailers throughout the country, and from us through our website, Facebook or phoning us on 031 205 0319.

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How did your business start: 15 Years ago from a “Tikkie Box” telephone on the road.

Is there anything else you want to add: We try and make our part in the wedding process as stress free, and joyful as possible for the bride and the groom.

Quote you live by: In the Bible it says “By the measure you measure, it will be measured unto you, pressed down, shaken and overflowing.”

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Tungsten Wedding Rings
The Ancient Egyptians believed that the vein that runs through the third finger on the left hand flowed directly to the heart. The Romans called it the Vena Amoris, meaning ‘Vein of Love’. As a ring has no beginning or end, it symbolizes love and unity…

Tungsten carbide is the new, most popular metal today for men’s wedding ring. The heavy weight and luxurious finish of a tungsten carbide ring speak of commitment, strength and an everlasting bond. The metal will always maintain its beautiful, scratch-resistant finish, making them the perfect choice for your loved ones wedding ring.

At VA Tungsten, we identified the need within men’s jewellery for a hard wearing, affordable ring that offers durability and sophistication. Men’s wedding rings up to now have been limited to very simple designs, and with much of a selection. Most of the men’s rings available today that are made from expensive, precious metals are all prone to scratches and abrasion, and some of these metals are almost impossible to remove in an emergency.

Tungsten is one of the safest metals on the market and with its unique comfort-fit design, they are not only comfortable to wear, the comfort fit acts as a cushion which helps the ring grip onto your finger. Our hand-picked selection of rings includes black-plating, ceramic and carbon fiber inlays that are fused into the metal, giving you a unique variety of tungsten rings to choose from. Our exclusive range of tungsten rings are a fraction of the price when compared to other precious metal wedding rings, but offers the same feeling of elegance and class. They are modern, bold and above all, strong!

For information, please contact us on 031-205 0319 or email sales@va-tungsten.com.

Tungsten Carbide – ‘A tough metal for a tough guy’

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Warren now wears his wedding band daily, and with pride. And we have got so many comments about how much other people like it too! I was also so impressed by the level of care I received during the whole decision of which one to choose, and the speed at which this was delivered to us.

If you are looking for a new wedding band, or even just a ring for a special occasion, I would really recommend you visit their website or pop Jason a message to find out more.

Enjoy!


 

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Von Fluff

Do you remember going to a market as a young child & being completely captivated by the young man spinning the candy floss in a great big red metal drum, & handing you this piece of magic wrapped around a stick?  I was always enthralled by the sugar spinning & how this just melted in my mouth as soon as I popped it in.  It still blows my mind that sugar makes that soft, gentle magic!  And can I just add, the Afrikaans word for candyfloss has to be one of the most descriptive ones ever – SPOOKASEM (a direct translation is ghost breath).

I attended an event here in JHB & Von Fluff was part of creating the signature welcome drink.  They had topped a gin cocktail with one of their unique flavoured candy flosses, & from that very first morsel, it was love…

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Your names: Lanah-Lee & Nicolene

Business name: VON FLUFF

Social media handles:  Facebook & Instagram

Why candy floss:  Nostalgic, Fun, whimsical and fluffy!! Need we say more!!

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What are some of your different flavors:  Our fan favourites include Salted Caramel, Piña Colada and Fireball.
We are always working on new flavours and toppings. Currently we have a Cucumber, Green Tea & Mandarine, Chai tea and Jasmine & Nectarine as firm favourites. We draw inspiration from childhood flavours, seasons and trends.

What are your day jobs:  Lanah – Social Media & Marketing for a SA Pharmaceutical company & a small wedding venue in Blairgowrie.
Nicolene: Administration manager for a company called Timeless Tents, supplier of luxury canvas marquees and tents.

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Tell me more about your cocktails with Tonic:  About a year ago Tonic asked us if we would supply them with candyfloss for their Mother Fluffer Cocktail on a weekly basis. Since then we have changed the flavours of the topper a few times and done special orders for events and parties at Tonic. They now have a signature Von Fluff range that is only available at Tonic. We love the collaboration!

Do you supply corporates/events:  Yes we do! Our petit black cart with matching bespoke umbrella loves to travel and will make a happy edition to any event. Fun, enticing and nostalgic. Guests (of all ages) will love it! We also do pre-packed bags that make great gifts or treats.

How can people get hold of you to place their order:  Pop us an email at info@vonfluff.co.za or head to our website for more info.

What markets do you sell at:  At the moment we are just at THE LINDEN MARKET but hoping in 2019 we can start looking at other markets in Jozi. There are so many cool markets in JHB lately.
You’ve recently rebranded, tell me more about this & how you chose your logo:  To celebrate our 1st birthday we wanted to update our look a bit. So Nicolene designed our new logo and we just LOVE it!!

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Quote you live by:  Our favourite life quote is: “Be groovy or leave, man.” Bob Dylan
Our candyfloss is rather huge, so when we spin at a market or event, we always tell the kids (and some grown-ups) “It needs to be at least twice the size of your head!” That is our candyfloss moto!

Anything else you want to add:  If you are looking for that special something to brighten up your next event, party, wedding or launch then give us a shout! We can customize a package for any event.

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Von Fluff as a whole have been so supportive & kind to me since I first messaged them, & I will always recommend them wherever possible.  I feel so honoured to have got to know these ladies a little more, as well as getting chosen to sample some of their new flavours.  The Spiced Chai is definitely up there in my favourite taste of all time!

Thank you ladies for your time, your passion for what you do, & for bringing candyfloss back at a whole new level.

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Please contact Von Fluff to help you take your event to the next level, & make sure you pop past their store at the next market & make sure you buy at LEAST one bag.  It may be difficult to choose your fave though!


 

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