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Toys with Roots

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

Shoprite Jan Smuts – Toys with Roots: Thabo & Mpumi Motsabi

Social media handles: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Website.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Sending love and happiness always x


 

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Increda-peg

At a Christmas market I attended last year I noticed this incredible business that was selling a product called an Increda-peg.  I was so interested in what they were offering, & the whole idea behind this business model.  And then I saw them popping up in more places, & I saw the need for such a design.  So I knew that it was time to reach out, learn more & let you in on their little secret…


Your name: Margie Potgieter

Business name: Increda-Peg

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Social media handles: Facebook, Instagram & Website

Tell me a bit more about what you do: We make Increda-peg, which is not just a peg.  These multifunctional pegs will change your life!

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What makes Increda-pegs so special: It’s a product of South Africa made from 100% recycled plastic creating jobs and preventing pollution locally. It is also springless, no rust and does not break. Also has a hook function making it multi-functional.

What are some of the uses of these pegs:

  • Washing peg creating more space on your line.
  • Camping, it pinches itself on the guy ropes allowing you to hang many things.
  • Agriculture, pinches on the dripper lines guiding the plants.
  • Can be used in a wardrobe creating space for scarves, ties, caps costumes etc.
  • Cable management, running cables, x-mas lights, like a reusable cable tie.

Why do you think more people should be using them: It is a product of South Africa, well priced at R1.00 per peg and are multi-functional. Increda-Peg creates local jobs and prevents pollution. It is a multi-functional peg.

Where can people buy theirs from: It is sold on weekend market country wide, markets are advertised on our social media pages. We also have an online store.

Who would benefit from using these pegs: Everyone will find a use one way or another for the peg.

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Why do you encourage people to support local: It creates jobs that are in desperate need and prevents pollution.

Quote you live by: Nelson Mandela, “a winner is a dreamer who never gives up.”


Aren’t these a great idea?  We should be thinking of the long-term effects on our beautiful (one-of-a-kind) universe that we live in, & do all we can to save it.

By making small changes in our lives, we can work together to make a big difference.  Come on guys, lets all win.


 

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With Love Baby

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.

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I received such great service, fast delivery & knew that I had to share this gem with all of you!


Your name: Cherralle

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Business name: With Love Baby SA

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Social media handles: Instagram and Facebook

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


 

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Rare Disease Day 2019

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Being a #RareWarrior means that today is one of the most important days of the year.  As you can tell by the title, it is International Rare Disease Awareness Day.  Being part of Rare Diseases SA means that I get to see behind-the-scenes & I am constantly in awe of just how much this organisation does.  When you mention that you have a particular rare disease, or are trying to raise awareness for one, people often look at you with total confusion & have no idea what you are talking about.  We need to work together to raise awareness & show that we are #AwareAboutRare & #Care4Rare.

According to the Rare Disease Day website, Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February each year. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.  The campaign targets primarily the general public and also seeks to raise awareness amongst policy makers, public authorities, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases.

Building awareness of rare diseases is so important because 1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some poinRare Disease Dayt in their life. Despite this, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed. Rare Disease Day improves knowledge amongst the general public of rare diseases while encouraging researchers and decision makers to address the needs of those living with rare diseases.

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I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis when I was 15.  Before this I was a perfectly healthy child, & never even had flu, chicken pox or any of the other ‘normal’ childhood ailments.  I had never been in hospital besides the day I was born & didn’t truly understand what it was like to be sick or to have to fight every day.  I didn’t know anyone with a rare disease & I was stuck inside my happy little bubble.  I will be the first to admit that I was self-absorbed & didn’t understand people who were ‘sick’.

Why should I try create awareness for something that doesn’t affect me directly?  Because if we don’t all work together to create awareness, then we will forever be stuck in a rut & people with a rare condition will be continue to feel alone & unsupported.  It is so difficult trying to explain to people that you have a Rare Disease & they either just don’t care, or don’t seem to want to know more or show their support.

So please, rock your #Jeans4Genes, buy a sticker, & talk to others about what Rare Diseases are.  Like the RDSA Facebook page & share their posts.   When you read an article or post about a rare condition; read up more & share this on your page so you are teaching more people.  I can’t tell you how much we appreciate this.  It makes us feel like we aren’t alone, & like we are loved.

Thank you everyone for being there for me through this journey & for loving all the Rare Warriors around the world.  You are fabulous!

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Today is the day! Let’s seize this opportunity to create as much awareness for #rarediseases as possible.

There are many ways you can make it count:
1. Wear your jeans and RDD2019 ribbon
2. Attend an event in your area
3. Post your face paint selfie on social media and hashtag #RDD2019 #ShowYourRare
4. Share your story with others
5. Know the facts…and share them! http://bit.ly/WatchTheRealityOfRareDiseases

#BePartOfTheMovement #bethechange #Jeans4Genes

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