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Guest Post

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.

 

Totally addicted to glass. Meet Sue, maker of Living Glass.

I am Sue Webber, owner of Living Glass. I am passionate about anything glass, it is such a beautiful and versatile medium. I have had a go at most crafts, but when I discovered glass work I was hooked.

I started working with glass about 25 years ago and for many years my studio was the place I went to for stress relief. I would putter about and all my problems seemed far away. My family and friends came to expect a piece of my work for birthdays and other celebrations.

There is a limit to how much one can give away, however, and I got to a stage where I had to either sell some pieces to pay for more glass or stop.

Well, stopping really wasn't an option so I started selling and Living Glass was born. 
 

I began selling at markets and apart from getting up early to set up I enjoy the markets, it's wonderful to meet new people and make new friendships. The people I meet also give me ideas for my work.

I retired two and a half years ago and while this gave me more time in the studio, I craved company so I started giving workshops in stained glass work. I LOVE the workshops, I get an afternoon's company and the chance to show off what I can do. Many of the people  have become good friends. Some wanted to continue at home but didn't want to spend a fortune on equipment so I started making pre-cut kits which only require a soldering iron.

My biggest challenge has been trying to use the computer to show off my products, I am much more comfortable with a glass cutter than a mouse and even something as simple as uploading photos is tricky so opening my Hello Pretty shop was a major achievement.

I am lucky enough to have a lovely studio and a very supportive husband who keeps me supplied with tea., I also have Kermit The Dog who keeps me company in the studio although he often gets in the way too.

What comes next? Who knows, but whatever it is will be smashing.

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.

 

The Girl who Smiled Beads, Beaded Fantasy from Zululand

Leeann Naidoo, of Beaded Fantasty shares her story with us...

Living in the heart of Zululand comes with many perks and a lot of inspiration. In Zululand the African culture is embraced wholeheartedly by a community of mixed genders, races and age groups. From this inspiration Beaded Fantasy was born.

Beaded Fantasy started in the corner of a mechanical workshop where a little girl sought to release the creativity inside of her. Of course, at 12 years old, no one would take her seriously unless she showed initiative. With that in mind she purchased her first pack of beads, strung them onto a cotton thread and admired her first bracelet which she wore with pride and joy.
Her joy was short-lived when the bracelet snapped the very next day. Disappointed but determined, she decided that the best thing to do would be to educate herself. The library became her best friend and books her obsession. She learnt as much as she could and decided to try again.

The second bracelet was stronger and did not snap but there was another problem, how would a person put the bracelet on and then take it off? After more research the little girl discovered clasps. Another problem solved.

As time went on, the little girl never stopped trying, never stopped researching and never gave up. She learnt every style of beading, weaving and braiding she could. People saw her determination and, one of the good things about Zululand, they encouraged and supported her. She eventually started making beaded jewellery to sell and as that began to succeed, she decided that she wanted to reach a broader market, outside of Zululand. She wanted her art to travel.

At 18 years old she decided to place her products on the internet and opened her first online store on Hello Pretty. Now 22 years old, Leeann Naidoo is in the process of opening her first shop in Eshowe to bring beaded art to the public.

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.

How a "plattelandse meisie" made it in Cape Town. Meet Sonjé of Sonny Mo Arts.

Hi, I’m Sonjé, the creative brain behind Sonny Mo Arts. Being from the Northern Cape originally, I’m something of a “plattelandse meisie”. I came to Cape Town to study and naturally fell in love with the Cape and now live here with my husband and our 3 doggos. I’m a homebody and enjoy spending time in my own environment (which is good since I work from home a lot!), love listening to music especially when I work, would never say no to chocolate and a good cup of coffee! I’m also not the best cook but have come a long way! ;-)

From a young age I was encourage to explore my creativity by my mother (who is an artist herself), and although I like to dabble in different mediums, photography drew me in the most.

 

After my studies I started my wedding photography business, and although very rewarding, I always felt I wanted to do something else too. I submerged myself so deep in my wedding photography, building a brand, attracting the right clients, refining my style, etc. that I never seemed to get the time to experiment with something else. I was also very set in my ways with regards to how I shoot and edit weddings that I struggled to break the mould I have put myself in.

My husband then bought me a photography diary that encourages you to take a photo a day, and that is the main thing that pushed me to think differently. I started taking more “just because” photos, playing around and experimenting. I absolutely loved it, and from there, Sonny Mo Arts was born.

I draw most of my inspiration from nature and natural elements. My current work I would best describe as having a more traditional film look to it, raw and organic.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had and continue to have is building a new social media audience from scratch and attracting the right clients who would be interested in my work. A more personal challenge is doubting myself and my creativity, and to always keep pushing forward even on days when you feel like giving up.

One of the biggest highlights must have been when I received my first order. It was so humbling to know someone loves my work as much as I do. My other biggest highlight was when I received my first international order all the way from Australia.

My biggest tip to anyone starting their own online shop would be not to give up and whenever that little negative voice comes in your head to make you question yourself, just shove it aside, do not listen to it and rather use it to drive yourself to work harder.


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.

 

 

How to exhibit your work if you’re not famous

Photo by Brigitta Schneiter

This blog post is one in Hello Pretty's guest blog series. Wanna write on Hello Pretty? Email us at info@hellopretty.co.za to find out more.

This awesome advice and insight was written by Wouda Mc Micken of Outdoorphoto. Find her on on her blog, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

You don’t have to be famous to exhibit your work. Being famous certainly makes it easier, but there are steps you can follow to get your art seen. I've prepared a view pointers to help you get started.

Know your purpose

Think about what you want to gain by exhibiting your work. Is the purpose to gain exposure or to sell your work? If it is to promote your art, you might consider selling your art outside of galleries such as quaint café’s, local boutique stores or restaurants. You can also turn to social media or start an online shop. Tap into your creativity and think about the places that may be interested in showcasing your work.

If it is to sell, your artwork must be valuable. Does it have a rare story or involve an experimental technique? Let these questions guide you in telling your art’s story with confidence. If you’re able to explain why it moves you, you may be able to move others with your artwork too. Next, you need to find a target market that will appreciate your work. Who are the types of people who will pay money to have own such pieces of art? And what are they willing to pay?

Photo by iSAW Company

Approach the right galleries

There a right and a wrong way to approach a gallery. The right way is to research the gallery before approaching them. Different galleries specialise in different styles of art, therefore, you should what they specialise in and whether your work will suit their style. Eliminate the ones that don’t match your style as chances are, they won’t attract the right clientele for your work.

Location is also important. Depending on your target market, they might prefer a niche pop-up gallery in an obscure part of town, or an accessible gallery with reasonable hours and safe parking. Now you can start thinking about the gallery’s space - literally. Do they have enough room to showcase your work? Depending on their space, are you prepared to exhibit in a group or solo?

Present a consistent body of work

It’s very important that your work communicates a similar story. Each piece of art may be different, but for it to be consistent it must feel like a series. Perhaps consider arranging your portfolio in a specific order to help viewers journey with you. Before presenting your work, you must sympathise with your viewer's feelings when walking through the exhibit. Large pieces induce a sense of awe while smaller pieces provoke deeper thoughts, curiosity and, even possibly, a sense of intimacy. Present your work in a way that leaves the viewer captivated!

Photo by Leonardo Yip

Identify the right price point

If you wish to sell your work, you’ve likely already started thinking about how much your target market is willing to pay. With an estimation of how much your work is worth, you now need to determine your budget as it will influence everything from the size of your print to the type of paper to use and your work’s framing and mounting possibilities. Even on a lower budget, it’s always best to ask for professional advice on printing, framing and mounting. And while you should be careful not to overprice, be reasonable. A lot of time and effort went into its creation! Make it worth your while by finding common ground between what you want versus what people are willing to pay.

Develop an exceptional marketing plan

Once you’ve secured a gallery, you might be tempted to leave all of the marketing up to them, but your work is not done yet. Good marketing is vital to the success of your exhibition as it will determine the number of visitors it will generate. Discuss your ideas with the gallery and create a plan that will make the exhibition worthwhile for both parties.

5 tips to start an online business, by Natalie of Sugar & Vice

Natalie van Dijk (nee Vice) of Sugar and Vice, always knew two things: that she wanted to run her own business and that she wanted to incorporate her creative talents into this business. The impetus to make this happen eventually came in the form of her retrenchment from a comfortable marketing job in 2014. Rather than acknowledge defeat, Natalie saw this as an opportunity to reinvent herself and make that business idea happen!

Sugar & Vice was started without any funding, handouts or loans. Instead Natalie relied on tenacity, hard work and an uncompromising commitment to her vision to build the brand. All Sugar & Vice products are handmade in Cape Town. The growth and development of the local creative industry is of key importance to the brand.

Starting and managing a business has been a steep learning curve for me and I am always happy to share my experience and learnings with friends, family and acquaintances. The thing is though that it is a very complex question to which the only short answer is, it is complicated and a lot of hard work. But I’ve given this question a lot of thought and condensed it into five points, which I am happy to share here.

Note that this is by no means the comprehensive guide to starting or running a business. This is merely my experience on my particular kind of business (an online shop in the creative industries with a wholesale element).

Over the years I have invested in my own professional learning, growth and development by, among others, doing a mini MBA course in business management, various kinds of training with the Craft and Design Institute (CDI), and courses in graphic design and interior decorating. I’ve worked in marketing, sales and admin roles and all of these have added to my experience in various ways.

1.    Do (A LOT OF) research
This is so important, because you need to know where in the market to position your product or service. Make sure you have a unique selling point – so that you know exactly what sets you apart from similar brands. See what similar products are priced at. Get quotes from all suppliers. Don’t forget about packaging. Find out how much the initial out lay will be and think about how you are going to finance this.

2.    Draw up a business plan
No, you won’t stick to it exactly because theory is one thing and practice is something completely different, but this is an important exercise to get you thinking about your business and how you are going to make it work. Write down your vision and mission statement. Note down what you want to achieve with your business. Include how you will finance things and what your marketing plan is.

3.    Start small
At the beginning I went a bit bananas with the variety of colourways I made my products available in. I should’ve chosen just two colourways to simplify things and to establish my brand. Also, don’t go overboard with spending too much money on stationery and equipment, only get what you absolutely need. You don’t want your cash to be stuck in objects, instead of being available for spending on suppliers/couriers. Don’t make your range too big. I’d advise starting with between five and ten to test the market, and gradually adding on from there.

4.    Do market research
Delve deep here. You need to make sure you know who your customer is, what they like, when they buy, how they like to be communicated with etc. If you do this properly then you will be able to market your products more effectively.

5.    Professional photos
The need for professional photographs cannot be stressed enough. This makes the world of difference. I have uploaded photos of my product to social media that I’ve taken myself and no sales, but as soon as I uploaded a professional photo of the same product, I made a few sales of that item the same day. Photography is definitely worth the financial investment.

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.
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