Hey 👋 HP Seller, actuallyashleigh

Hi, I'm Ashleigh from actuallyashleigh, although pretty much everyone I know calls me Ash.  I'm a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband, and a mom (and stepmom) to 3 kids.  I'm also a mom to a Boston terrier, who is by far the neediest child of all!  I'm definitely a homebody and I'm so lucky to be able to work from home, it gives me time to draw, garden, cook, fetch kids from school, and do all the other endless things that moms have to fit in.  Despite not having a greenfinger, I love to draw plants, and I'm mad about birds.

I started actuallyashleigh (I love a good tonguetwister!) to make my drawings a bit more functional.  I also have an annoying habit of having to cover empty surfaces with some kind of pattern or decoration, so plain white ceramics were a good place to do that.  I began by getting some designs printed on transfer sheets, buying a few second hand ceramics, and then cutting and sticking to my heart's content.  I found a friendly potter who had a kiln, and soon I had a stash of bowls with my designs on them!  It was so exciting that I carried on, sourcing different ceramic ware and drawing new designs. 

For quite a while it was only friends and family that bought my pieces, and you can only give your stuff as birthday presents for so long.  Then I started doing markets and selling my things in shops.  And I suddenly had to start producing more to keep up!

My business is still small, as I'm a one-woman band, and I don't mass produce anything, but I'm getting there.  I have my stock in a few more outlets now, and a couple big upcoming shows this year.  There are new works in progress, and some exciting new ideas in the planning phase.
The challenges include being self-motivated, finding time to take proper stock photos and keeping up with social media posts.  As a behind-the-scenes type of person, I find 'selling myself' at markets somewhat nerve wracking, but you slowly get used to it; and there's actually nothing better than meeting your customers and seeing how happy they are when they buy something they love, that you've made!  The highlights of having your own business are obviously the flexible hours, being paid for doing something you enjoy, and for putting in the hours and hard work for no one but yourself.

Any tips I could give for someone starting out, is to work out your pricing properly in the beginning - work out a wholesale price, and then double that for your retail price.  Don't shortchange yourself, and don't underestimate how valueable your time is.  If you're doing something you love, you'll automatically be good at it.  Market yourself and get out there!

Thanks so much,
Ash

Hey 👋 HP Seller, GRYS

This blog post is one in Hello Pretty's guest blog series. Each post is written by a person who is running their online store though South Africa's favourite art, design & craft marketplace.

If you'd like to more view guest posts in this series, and other posts where we interview local businesses, click here.

Wanna write a guest post on Hello Pretty? Email us at info@hellopretty.co.za to find out more.
The story of Grys…

So let me start off by saying we are no writers, neither are we business tycoons that are trying to give business advice to anyone, these are just our thoughts that we want to put into words and maybe inspire one person out there reading this.

Grys.; for those of you who don’t know, is a home décor brand and interior design company that myself and Wayne Hayward started in August 2018. The idea came to us when we wanted to transform a normal wooden dining room table into one with a concrete top. After weeks of research and countless industry experts telling us it’s not advisable to pour cement onto wood and expect it to stick, we bought a bag of cement and off we went. Without any ‘real’ knowledge of cement or the cement: sand:water ratio, we poured a 50kg bag of cement and started mixing it with water (can I also just add that we had no form of mixer, except our hands and arms as it would turn out later). Long story short, after hours of mixing, we had a mixture of concrete and we poured it onto the tabletop. At this point, we also had no idea that we weren’t suppose to let the cement cure in direct sunlight or that we were suppose to keep the cement moist with water. Either way, a couple of hours later, the cement seemed hard and we carried the table inside the house. Very impressed with the outcome, we waiting another couple of days before we started to use our one of a kind table.

https://hellopretty.co.za/grys

At the time of this craft project, I was still employed. I was as happy as one could be in a job and industry that isn’t your real passion, yet my 7 years of studying had steered me into this position. Please don’t get me wrong, although I had days (most of them) where I just wanted to pack my back and never go back to the office, I was always grateful for a job, career and income which meant I could pay my bills at the end of the month. However, without going into too much detail as it’s not the point of the story, my security of paying bills came to an end in May 2018.

So back  to Grys...
One night, Wayne and I sat on the couch and we chatted about travelling abroad and how we could afford this, without going into debt. I suggested, why not start a business/hobby on the side and every cent we make from it, we save up for our next trip. So the thinking started and with our beautiful concrete dining room table staring at us, doing something with concrete, was the obvious choice. We started throwing ideas around and decided on making concrete serving platter/cheese boards. You might think to yourself how is this possible, how will this practically work and what will it look like. Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say. Again, after weeks of research, creating molds, testing different cement types, trying out different ratios, we got the winning formula. We actually had a product that looked beautiful, did not crack and did not break when slightly touched. So the sales and marketing began for our products and brand.

Throughout the process of manufacturing, selling and marketing our products, I decided that this is what I wanted to do full time. Believe me, this decision wasn’t a financial one. Yes, we sold the odd product here and there, but nothing close enough to sustain me financially every month. Luckily for me, Wayne was and still is employed full time as an Accountant.

So we started off by going to gift markets over weekends, thinking we would be rich by the end of it. How wrong we were. Our first market turned out ok, with friends and family members supporting us. The second market we sold one product and the third (which would also be our last) we sold zero. Very upset, we phoned our moms and asked them why everyone was lying to us, by telling us our products are beautiful, yet the sales leading up to that point proved the opposite. As mentioned, we stopped with the markets and decided to try different selling techniques

https://hellopretty.co.za/grys

Not to keep you reading for hours, we can now proudly say that we didn’t give up and with a lot of trial and error we are now selling our products on Hello Pretty, Takealot and our own online shop. With negotiations with a couple of other leading online shops and retailers.

The moral of the story is a cliché, if you have a passion for something, try and fail, try again and possibly fail again, however need stop trying. If one technique, regardless of manufacturing, marketing or sales doesn’t work, move on to the next one until you find THE ONE. And even then you will have days where you want to stay in bed (and that’s ok, I’ve done it once or twice), but tomorrow wake up, dress up and continue to work towards your end goal. We all have different end goals for starting a business, whichever it is just continue.

We started off with a crazy home DIY idea; today we have 15 products and working on expanding to different products and mediums.

Studio & neighbourhood tour with A Ring To It

Hello Pretty was lucky enough to be invited to a studio experience tour by Stacy Beukes, the insanely talented jewelry designer behind A Ring To It. 

A Ring to It jewelry design is renowned for interactive pieces that tell a story. This studio tour was no different and we began our morning with a chat by Stacy explaining the rich socio-cultural history that informs her studio space as well as each design and final product.

Much like Stacy's unique laugh, the studio experience tour proved to be inspiringly special. The talk provided a rich contextual background with stories from Stacy's childhood and her parents childhoods - these form the foundation upon which Stacy creates her pieces.

We got a lovely peek inside the studio where Stacy and her apprentice Cynthia demonstrated the process of making a hand crafted silver necklace. It was awe inspiring to see how much how much work is involved in each step of the process.

Stacy provided explanations for every aspect of the design and manufacture process. Each tool has a rich history behind it. Every decor item in her studio has a story.

Over bagels and bubbles we discussed the inspiration that informs Stacy's new range called 'Kinners'. We all nostalgically reminisced about 90's iconic symbols.

We each received a beautifully individualized name necklace which is Stacy's take on the cheap plastic white block name necklaces we all got as children.

​​It was such a great end to the studio experience. Sitting in the sun at a gorgeously decorated table layered with pinks and tropical leaves we got to bond over things that make us uniquely South African.
Stacy's jewelry pieces managed to spark those sweet memories we all have from childhood and I haven't been able to stop thinking about them since.

Hello Man Giveaway! King & Queen tshirt set by SimplyPrintedbyAneen [ CLOSED ]

It's giveaway number 6 of 8 in our celebration of Hello Man's launch. Dang

At the end of this giveaway, we'll be giving someone a King & Queen tshirt set by SimplyPrintedbyAneen. A tshirt for you, a tshirt for your queen.


Or keep them both for yourself - you're the boss of you and we don't judge.


To enter, we'll need you on our Facebook page:
1) Like the Facebook post below. For an extra entry, comment and tag the king / queen you'd share your prize with
2) Like Hello Man on Facebook.
3) Follow @hellomansa on Instagram
4) Have a look through SimplyPrintedbyAneen's Hello Pretty store too, so you can see her things for the ladies.

You can also find SimplyPrintedbyAneen on her Facebook page.

Some stuff to know:
1) This giveaway is open to South Africans.
2) Entries close at 11pm on Tuesday 22nd of May.
3) Standard competition Ts and Cs apply.
4) Winner will be notified by Facebook.

No more excuse for being late. Cottage & Cheese is sponsoring a clock giveaway

The end of the " I lost track of time" excuse for making an entrance like the one above to work. No more running in like a MANiac.

It's Wednesday, which means we have a new Hello Man launch giveaway starting - 5th in our series of 8. This week, our super duper sponsor is Cottage+Cheese.

This week's score is pretty MANtastic. One of you will get this here cuckoo clock:

You'll get to pick from a white oak option, a walnut option and a white perspex option.

Rad.


To enter, we'll need you on our Facebook page:
1) Like the Facebook post below. For an extra entry, comment and tag that guy who is always late.
2) Like Hello Man on Facebook.
3) Follow @hellomansa on Instagram
4) Give Cottage+Cheese's Facebook page a like.

If you want to check out a few more of their things, you can view them in their Hello Pretty store.

Some stuff to know:
1) This giveaway is open to South Africans.
2) Entries close at 11pm on Tuesday 15th of May.
3) Standard competition Ts and Cs apply.
4) Winner will be notified by Facebook.

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