Entrepreneur

Ethical accessories and a story: We All Share Roots

Hello everyone! I’m Elise, the founder of WeAllShareRoots (ethical handbags). I’m French but based in Cape Town since 2014 and locked down at home, in Tamboerskloof, with my husband and two girls, a 3-year old and a 5-month old, due to Covid-19.

I grew up in Paris but, by moving to Cape Town, I discovered that I am much more a nature-lover than a city-girl… or I’m probably a mix of both! I’m totally in love with South Africa, and this is actually why I decided to create my ethical brand: working with the townships, bringing income and skills where they are highly needed, and promoting Cape Town vibe and fashion, is somehow my way to give back to this amazing country.

And I think we can also say that I’m a colour and accessory lover. Have a look to our bags and you’ll get a sense of it! There is nothing I like more than a smart casual outfit enhanced by a unique, colourful, unexpected accessory. Bags are ideal for that, you can be so creative and show a glimpse of your unique personality with it!

WeAllshareRoots offers a variety of handcrafted bags, all of them created in limited editions. From the beach bag to the clutch, all our items are locally designed and handmade. We try our best to be as ethical as possible.

For example, for the sewing and the assembly of the bags, we work with a small CMT, based in SeaWinds / Lavender Hill. These underprivileged communities suffer from unemployment and gangsterism. By bringing them work and enabling our seamstresses to work from their home, we help them to take care of their families and put bread on the table. We also help them to grow, get new machines, prospect new clients, etc. Our success has to be theirs.

Also in 2018, we decided to launch a 100% vegan range, made out of Piñatex (a natural leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibres). This new and innovative material is intended to be a sustainable alternative to the mass production of leather and pollutants, thus enabling a responsible choice for a better future. Made from natural wastes, with a low water use and reduced waste production, this material does not contain any harmful or animal chemicals. We are very proud of the result and are in love with our colourful and mindful range of vegan clutches!

In the current context, we are more convinced than ever that the future belongs to ethical, small, human-oriented brands. And we count on everybody’s support to make it true.

The venture started in 2016… I cannot believe that it will be soon our 4th anniversary! Creating a brand from scratch, with no similar experience before, is such a challenge. I have done most of the work by myself and I am now lucky to have the help of a tiny team (we’re two, plus an intern!). It is difficult to be on everything, but you have to. Producing means purchasing materials, looking for the best suppliers and options, spending time designing, explaining processes to the production team, overseeing quality etc. And once you have your product, the work is not over, you need to sell it! For this part, Hello Pretty is such a huge help, offering an online and user-friendly platform!

Also, in the four years of WeAllShareRoots, I had two pregnancies and two babies… I guess that I am a good example of a "mumtrepreneur"! It is hard to find the good balance but having two little girls gives me more motivation even to do good, to help other working mothers in the townships, to teach my kids to be mindful human beings and to show them that women can do anything as good as men! 😉

There are a lot of highs and lows in a professional life and probably even more when you’re driving your own business. Thankfully, I almost never have complaints about my products (top quality is one of our core objectives) but I can be very sensitive with anything going wrong with my business. Actually, I have learnt to not over-react, to put my emotions aside and to "digest" before taking any action. On the other hand, there is nothing I appreciate more than a positive comment, a like on a post or sweet feedback from a customer. We handle every single order, we handwrite the names of our customer, we always wonder if they ordered for a special occasion or how they found us… We are just so happy when we receive a message after our shipment was received!

I saw once a quote saying “when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance”, this is SO true!

I would recommend to anyone willing to sell on Hello Pretty to curate pictures and descriptions. It is important to think about your customer experience. Buying online is not always easy, you need to get a sense of the size, the materials etc. It is crucial to try to bring the maximum of information to those you are on your eshop, it will help them to make up their minds and better understand your offer.

And because we know that this Coronavirus crisis is hitting hard on everyone’s finances and mood, we decided to offer 10% discount on certain items during the lockdown and for some time after. We will also be helping our dear seamstresses giving them back 5% of all online sales from Hello Pretty. They also need all our support and help in these difficult times.

Stay home, stay safe and take care of yourselves, beautiful people.

Meet Olivia, the designer behind handmade boho- & travel-inspired home brand, Wild Minds

Hi everyone! My name is Olivia and I am the mind behind Wild Minds :)

I design wooden (and hopefully soon, metal!) wall hangings, dreamcatchers and other bits and pieces for the home. I am hugely inspired by festival culture and style, and absolutely everything bohemian. I also love to travel, and that has introduced me to many different cultures and their spiritual symbols, which I have incorporated into several of my artworks.

Wild Minds began from my home in Cape Town around 3 years ago. I had designed place names for wedding tables which I had then had laser cut from wood. I realised how many possibilities there were with laser cutting and started designing decorative wall hangings (initially for myself) as I could never find exactly what I wanted elsewhere. When I got my first samples back, it hit me that I should make this into a business, and Wild Minds was born!

It has been a massive learning curve as I do everything myself - from the initial designs and hand-painting, to website management, sales, packaging & shipping and accounting to name a few. I would say that has been the biggest challenge, although it has definitely taught me a lot along the way!

Having your own business can sometimes be a real test - there are often days where I stop and wonder if my work is good enough, if I'm wasting my time on a pipe dream, and if I am ever going to be able to make a real success of it. Your confidence can take a real knock when sales aren't pouring in. However, when I send a piece off to the other side of the world or I get to collaborate on a custom design with a customer or another maker, it's really exciting and I love every second of it.

Receiving a lovely piece of feedback after a lot of hard work also makes everything feel worthwhile - I don't know if my customers ever realise just how much it means to me to hear how happy they are with something I have made just for them. When I think about all the people across the globe that now have a little piece of my artwork displayed in their home, I feel really proud of myself that I have managed to get to this point and I hope it continues!

The best part is that I get to be creative and do something I love every day. Even the more mundane tasks are just a reminder of the fact that I have built a little business by myself, and that's a great feeling.
 

My advice to other sellers out there would be to just keep pushing forward, keep creating and being inspired, and stay positive! Set backs happen, but when you put yourself out there to showcase your work, you are doing it because you are passionate about it, and thats the most important reason of all.

A platform like Hello Pretty is so valuable for us small business owners as it gives us the means to get online, get selling and extend our reach to people who may not necessarily have ever discovered our work. So make the most of it and enjoy!

You can find me on Hello Pretty under Wild Minds, on Instagram at @x.wild.minds.x and on Facebook at facebook.com/wildminds.sa.

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 through 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.

 

Subscribe to RSS - Entrepreneur