{Momentrepreneur} Meet Claudine “When I spend time with daughter, I try to be present.”

This week we meet a mom who makes dog treats – Claudine, who tells us how she makes the time with her daughter count.

 

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

I am a wife to Richard and mom to Mikaylin. We have a cat and a dog who live with us in Johannesburg. Richard and I used to live on game reserves before moving to the big city. We love nature and often travel to the beach and the bush.

2. What were you doing before you started this business?

Straight after school I entered the world of hotels, restaurants and game lodges. I’ve worked in London and Florida, Cape Town and various game lodges in the Eastern Cape. It’s here that I found my passion for people and food.

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

Currently, Max & Bella is a part-time business. It is not making enough money (yet) to justify resigning from my full time job.

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

It’s tough being in an 8-5 position but fortunately I have an employer who understands that you don’t employ people, you employ families. They’re understanding and offer me flexibility with my time. When I spend time with daughter, I try to be present. We go for walks and I read to her every day. We have baths together and we have dance parties. When I’m preparing food or baking biscuits, I try to involve her. Mikaylin remains my priority and I always ensure she has received attention from me before I focus on work.

 

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

We started out without a plan, but we have since understood the importance of having a plan. It keeps evolving. I know we should have something concrete in black and white but we haven’t had time to do that yet. Right now our plan is to grow awareness of our brand.

 

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

This is tough! The dog biscuit industry is competitive. There are a lot of people who bake for their own dogs and who sell their baked goods. We attend markets to build a customer base. We also utilise social media to grow awareness. We focused on our website and our online store to make it easy for people across South Africa to get our treats.

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Time and money. We’re working on an exciting new product but for it to be successful, we need to invest our own funds (not easy when our employment is uncertain) and focus a lot of our time and energy on development and strategy. We feel we have one chance to get this right which is a lot of pressure!

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

We did need some money, but luckily not too much. We calculated the risks and we decided to invest our own money into the business. We have made a profit but we have re-invested all the profit to allow us to build the business. According the books, we’re breaking even at the moment.

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

Our passion and our services. We love what we do! We’ve always dreamed of having our own little “dog deli”. I’d still love to open a shop where we bake treats for our “best friends”. We’ve focused on quality products, quality presentation and accessibility. Our customers can order from our website with ease.

 

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

Instagram: @MaxandBellaZA (https://www.instagram.com/maxandbellaza/)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxandBellaZA/

Website and Online Store: http://maxandbella.co.za

 

Would you like your business featured on momentrepreneur? Email heather@samomblogs.co.za. 

If you found this post interesting please share it with your friends and remember to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram and join our awesome group called Mommy’s Me Time.

 

 

{Momentrepreneur} Meet Helene: Brilliant Mommy Bag Boutique owner: “Be present in the moment and roll with the punches”

Today we meet a “Brilliant Mommy”, Helene, who uses this name for  the handbags she makes. She encourages us to keep going in all circumstances, to be flexible and adaptable about your business plan and to have some style!

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

I am 37 years old and married for 14 years with two kiddies aged 6 and 4.  While being born and raised in PE, we relocated to Pretoria right after we got married because my husband accepted a job offer here.  I am an entrepreneur at heart.  I am an avid handbag admirer. I was born that way.  I was also born with an exceptional talent for crafting – sewing and crochet.  Apart from the techniques my mom taught me, I’m self-taught in the rest.  However, if it wasn’t for the sewing environment that my mom created, or all the times she let me use her machine and took me to the fabric store patiently listening to all my ideas and buying the fabric, today would not have been one of the best days of my life.

 

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

I completed my three years Professional Accountant Articles after my studies and started ‘my first real job’ in 2005.  Eleven years later I resigned at that company, having started out as the Assistant Accountant and ended as the Chief Financial Officer, to start my own business.

 

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

It was a difficult decision my husband and I had to make, but in the end, it was better for me personally to have an end and a beginning between my corporate job and my own business.  There simply was not enough hours in the day to run both and give each the quality attention it deserved.  So, the 31st of December 2016 was my last day ‘at work’ and the 1st of January 2017 was my first day at Brilliantmommy Bag Boutique.  It started off as a Kiddies Bag Boutique but I have now added a range for unordinary moms as well.  A Crafting Bag Boutique is on the horizon.

 

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

Fortunately, when I started Brilliantmommy Bag Boutique, I was already in the habit of sticking to routine because of having a corporate job for so long.  Getting the kids to school at a specific time, setting up a meal plan over the weekend, doing the shopping and doing washing every other night.  I just kept to the same routine once I started Brilliantmommy.  Sure, running a business at home gives me time to do some things during the day, but I have found that I still prefer doing ‘home stuff’ in the evening and devoting my day time to the business when everybody is away.  I’m also blessed with a hands-on husband.  Even though I am home during the day he still respects my working hours and continues with his share of the responsibilities of raising kids.

 

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

I have a business plan.  It is etched in my brain.  I think about it daily.  Yes, I have a marketing strategy all written out and yes, I have a sales target all graphed out.  But I’m sure like all of you entrepreneurs out there know, if you don’t have flexibility in your arsenal and you don’t know how to compromise on your targets like a grown-up you will get discouraged very fast.  As a start-up, my strategy to make my business plan successful is to just keep it in mind for now – envisioning it as the where-you-want-to-be-in-five-year’s-time – but to be present in the moment and roll with the punches.  At this stage, if I’m just successful at keep on keeping on, I will consider it a win.

 

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

I already had a Facebook and Instagram following because I used my accounts to showcase my crochet creations.  I considered this a very valuable position to be in. But once it was converted to show content of Brilliantmommy’s Bag Boutique the interaction from the followers dwindled.  This became one of the biggest eye-openers for me and proof of the subject I read about most:  target market.  Yes, I have about 1000 followers over social media, but that 1000 was not even remotely interested in what I had to offer now.  This brought about my first flexibility test to change my marketing strategy to hit that perfect button with the existing followers.  I’m still at it, and unfortunately, I cannot say that I have succeeded yet.  In addition to my existing social media accounts, I have now signed up with a community online craft market in search of more exposure.  I have joined a collaboration for a pop-up shop.  And, of course, I’m writing this piece as well!

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Honestly, to encourage myself every day.  It gets lonely – especially if you post on social media and there is not even one comment.  You cannot gauge what people are thinking or feeling if they don’t respond.  That feeling that someone out there is appreciating your product is missing.  Secondly, to get just the right seating in the market – that perfect place or person that wants to hear what you are saying and putting out there.  Thirdly, to start making money.  Money does bring happiness – not the physical stuff happiness (not now anyway) but the feeling of success happiness (you have attempted something and it worked!).

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

No, you don’t need a lot of money to start off. You do need a lot of money to keep going in the months after you have cut off a big stream of income.  My biggest expense was the creation of my website.  Thereafter it was buying the fabric to start making bags. Things such as business cards and a deposit with the courier company sort of happened by its own and was in hindsight not a pre-requisite to start off.  Monthly expenses such as website hosting, ecommerce facility, accounting- and payroll software makes it difficult to generate a profit when sales are low.

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

Brilliantmommy’s bags are not mass produced.  They are mostly unique.  They are fashioned after the latest handbag- and colour trends.  It’s important that they are practical and will suit the lifestyle of a mom – especially a mom that is fed-up with being ordinary.  Fabric such as cotton canvas are used in the production that makes the bags machine washable – the kiddies bags especially.  Although the bags are structured, they are surprisingly lightweight. So, no more walking around with a bag that has spots on it or feeling the need to replace the bag because it has become grimy – just pop it in the machine.  Also, no more sore shoulders due to lugging about that insanely heavy bag!  The weight of your Brilliantmommy bag will mostly depend on what you carry around in it! 

 

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

You can find me here:

www.brilliantmommy.co.za

https://hdme.co/pages/seller-profile?brilliantmommy

You can follow me here:

https://www.facebook.com/Brilliantmommy-your-Bag-Boutique-1345502925528908/

https://www.facebook.com/brilliantmommysouthafrica/

https://www.instagram.com/brilliantmommy_southafrica/

 

Joburg Bloggers! Helene will be giving away a prize at our #JoziMeetup. Have you booked your spot yet? 

 

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{Momentrepreneur} Meet Cloth Nappy Cleaner Courtney: “Routine helps a Ton!”

Today meet Courtney, who has set up South Africa’s only cloth nappy cleaning service. She says having a routine of how she deals with her kids and work certainly assists her in putting everything together.

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

 

My name is Courtney Klinkert, I am 29 years old and have 2 precious little boys, aged 2.5 and 13 months. I have been married for 5.5 years and have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I turned a hobby into a small business in 2010 when I started making Christian Jewelry, I opened an online shop and shipped all over the world, this is still a side business I run. www.courtneyschristianjewellery.com . Then after my degree because we moved around a few times it was difficult to keep a steady job- my husband worked on the mines in Mpumalanga and then Limpopo, so I continued with my jewelry and started baking too for friends who became clients.

I absolutely love entertaining and spending time with friends and family at my home.

Then at the end of January I came up with the idea for Baby Bottoms. I’m a cloth mom who sometimes really doesn’t feel like cleaning, stuff and getting my nappies for ready for the next round of use. So I did some research and there is no company offering cloth nappy cleaning here in SA!  We also offer a rental service for moms who want to try before they buy.

 

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

Once we moved back to Benoni in 2014 I started working with my mom in an accounting and payroll business- Proficient Accounting and Payroll Services (Pty) Ltd- ProfAcc, which I’m still involved in.

 

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

This is currently a part time business as I still work for ProfAcc with my current bookkeeping and payroll clients. I’ll be doing it until Baby Bottoms needs my full attention. We currently only have a few clients as it’s just opened, so I’m able to do both.

 

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

Each day is different, but I think having a routine helps a ton! My oldest son is in a playgroup every morning until 12:30, which gives me the mornings with my other son (who luckily naps like clockwork!) So I have set times where I work and get things done. Sometimes I have days where no work gets done, but it’s just one of those things you deal with when it happens.

I’m also blessed with a wonderful husband and mom who both are willing to help out when needed, whether it’s watching the kids, folding nappies or even making jewelry! I think a strong support system is vital to any successful parent and business owner.

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

I have a vague outline of a business plan 😉 Yes I do have a plan, the first step is creating awareness about Baby Bottoms- what we do, where we’re based etc and I’m using a lot of social media such as Facebook and Instagram to help with that. I have also signed up to be at a few markets that are coming up. I think the first few months are going to be the hardest, but once we’re more known and have more people using our service I’m hoping that things will settle a bit.

 

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

Right now I’m using Facebook as a marketing tool and I have a website that has a lot more information about Baby Bottoms on it. Currently clients are coming in the form of friends and through them word of mouth.

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Right now I’m faced with still growing my client base in order to make this a full time business.

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

The start up was a reasonable investment, I purchased a few hundred nappies for potential rental clients but from here, once I have the clients the money I’ll need will just be to grow my stock levels.

 

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

Baby Bottoms is the only cloth nappy cleaning service in South Africa. This is what makes us so unique.

 

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

I have a Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/babybottomsza/

Website- www.babybottoms.co.za

Instagram account- @babybottomsza

 

Stay tuned, readers, because we are running a giveaway with this company on Wednesday!

 

Meet blogger, insurer and momentrepreneur Cindy: “We never close: People have accidents at all hours.”

Today meet South African mom blogger Cindy, who also co-owns and insurance brokerage. She shares how this job becomes full time because of the nature of the work and how she keeps her head above water both at home and at work. 

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

Hellooooo.  I’m Cindy.  I know there’s a lot of ways to introduce yourself but for me the most important thing is that I am a wife and mom of three.  Other than that I co-own an insurance brokerage in Cape Town and I also blog on the side on my parenting meets lifestyle blog – 3 Kids, 2 Dogs and 1 Old House.

 

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

Believe it or not I started this job basically straight out of school.  I finished matric and then did a short one year course in Office Management.  After that I joined Incompass in 2006 and I’ve been there ever since.

 

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

Cindy’s children

The business is completely full time – we never close.  We employ about 15 people now around South Africa.  We are an Insurance Brokerage so it’s impossible to close during usual working hours because people have accidents all the time.  However because I am more in the management side of things now, I leave around 2pm and then work from home if I need to.

 

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

It’s possibly one of the hardest things to do.  When I am killing it at work then I am missing in action at home, if I am at home then I am missing something at work.  It’s a bit of a vicious circle actually.  But I try and make sure that I keep a balance of both.  It doesn’t always work, but it does keep everything above water most times. 

 

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

Incompass has been going for about 13 years now.  We literally started with my partner on his own then I joined and since then we have grown it to employing 15 people.  Our business model is great because it is recurring business, unless someone cancels you are guaranteed that premium every month.  The only thing is then to keep growing the amount of clients we have and not loose any.

 

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

Surprisingly we do a lot of our marketing by word of mouth actually.  However we are currently redoing our website later this year and trying to bring it into the now.  It’s embarrassing actually, considering how involved I am on social media for my blog my own website should be incredible but it’s not.

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Cindy and her husband Seth

Getting the work/ life balance right.  I think that might be my challenge forever though.

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

It was a lot of slog work those first 3 years before I joined and even the couple after that, but then things got so much better.  And it was all worth it.

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

We specialise in guest house insurance – in fact we’re one of the biggest insurance brokerages focusing on this niche in South Africa.  We know everything about the products suitable to this niche, as well as being able to manage our own portfolios with the biggest guest house insurance company and so it makes us a market leader in this field.

 

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

 

www.incompass-insurance.co.za

 

{Momentrepreneur} Meet Remedial Therapist and Learning Specialist Marina: “I have generated incredible leads by giving some things away for free.”

This week we meet a remedial therapist, Marina, who quit her remedial school job to start her own business assisting learners learn in a way that suits them holistically.  She works with a child’s learning routine and strategies.

Marina works a lot online to market herself, also through blogging and Facebook. She has also found that giving away certain things has brought her more business. 

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

I studied teaching and special educational needs at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University all the back in the 80’s. My first post was working with profoundly mentally challenged children. All of my pupils were non-verbal and low functioning. It was the most incredibly humbling experience and it taught me a type of patience I never knew I had. Teaching these amazing children changed the way I taught for the rest of my life. Making me understand that each child develops in their own time and each child has the ability to succeed when given the right amount of care and attention. I’ve been in education for 25 years and have taught gifted children, mainstream children and academically challenged children.

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

I was a remedial therapist at a very elite private school and hating it. I was forced to work in a way, which I knew was counterproductive to learning. The school refused to change its stance on remedial intervention, so I bravely (or stupidly – lol) handed in my resignation and walked away with not one client or knowing how I was going to pay my bond, car, school fees etc.

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

I work full time in my business. I have tried to build a practice before while still teaching at a school and I found that I never managed to give my business the attention it needed. I always placed my employers needs ahead of my own and landed up having minimal time and energy to grow my own business. While starting it up solo was scary, I mean there were months when I really did not know where the money was going to come from. The one month I actually couldn’t even pay my bond. But I persevered and it has paid off. I still have some scary months, especially when it is school holidays and most my clients are away but this drove me to think how I could make up the deficit and this lead me to writing my books. I have found that you will only really push yourself to grow your business when you are under pressure to make it a success.

 

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

 

Marina and her daughter at at the Eagle Sanctuary at Spier Wine Farm.

I am lucky in that when I started my business, my daughter was already in Matric, so she didn’t need too much attention from me. There were still things I needed to juggle like lifting her to and from school/college, taking her to photo shoots (she enrolled in college and studied photography about 6 months after I started my business) and so on. I made sure to plan each day, down to the last minute. I did all my planning the night before. I would first fill in the times when all my ‘mommy’ duties would need to take place and then I’d fill in my work obligations around that.  I made sure to commit

Kristin and Marina using a Snapchat filter

to a minimum of 8hrs per day. So if I knew there was going to be a hectic afternoon of lifting and carrying, I would schedule to work in the morning, while she was at college, and then in the evening. This did mean that I worked some very late nights, but it was well worth it. There were days I would tell her to grab a bowl of cereal for supper, as I didn’t want to break with my writing or marketing…and she survived!! If I was busy with doing diagnostic testing or working with one of my children, she would have to wait for me at college until I was ready. Also, if I knew it was going to be a long photoshoot that I had to take her to, I would take my laptop with and do work in my car. However, I was always very clear with what work I would finish while waiting in my car, to avoid any time wasting.

 

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

I do have a business plan. My strategy centres around social media marketing, blogging, Google Adword campaigns and branding myself as a leading expert in education.  Branding has been done through, doing talks at schools, and accepting speaking engagements through the WCED. I have done a lot of these talks for free, because it is about looking at the bigger picture and making valuable contacts. I also offer free education advice through email and via my website. I have generated some incredible business leads by giving some things away for free. I have to admit that I am behind on my blogging strategy mainly because things got really hectic due to moving cities, but doing giveaways through my blog has also driven a lot of traffic to my site. I am also prominent on social media – I find that I get a lot of leads through FB, as my target market is South African moms and that is where they are most active. I also belong to a lot of mommy groups on FB and offer consistent advice, which also leads to some valuable contacts.  

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

I get new clients by doing my own marketing. My FB page, email campaigns. blog and Google Adwords drive a steady stream to my site. I have also had people contact me through word of mouth, as I mentioned above a lot of this has come through me giving free advice to people who then refer me to friends and colleagues. I do FB advertising every so often. I haven’t had huge success from FB advertising – I just haven’t managed to grasp how to make it successful. I do however pay a monthly fee to advertise on a very large Mom’s Group on FB and that tends to yield better results. I also advertise through school newsletters. I have found that if you look carefully, and think out of the box you can market your business on a limited budget.

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

My biggest challenge right now is building up my clientele once again. I moved from Cape Town to Johannesburg, so I am right back where I started. It is a bit easier, as I do have contacts at schools here in JHB, which I didn’t in Cape Town.

I also have found that I am at the stage in my online business where it is too big for one person but I am not earning enough to bring in a second person. This means long hours and there is always something that falls behind – and lately that has been my blog.

Also because of the move, I had a backlog of things which have piled up and I am trying to sort through getting that done, as well as trying to keep up with my present business demands. So my workload right now is a bit hectic.

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

 

I was lucky in that I was in education for 20 years before I stepped out of a salaried job. This meant that I had already gathered all the resources and tools I needed. I also was able to work from home, which eliminated the need for office rent. The only thing I had to was ensure I had enough money to keep the bills paid – as mentioned above, there were some very scary months but I really do believe that when you struggle, it makes you stronger and more determined to succeed.

 

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

 

I believe in holistic education. So all my programmes take a child’s emotional, physical and cognitive needs into account. This is not a very common approach in South Africa. Holistic education means that if I am asked to diagnose a child’s academic issues, I will investigate their diet, emotional well-being and their cognitive ability to determine where they need help. The books I authored, on learning, also take a holistic approach. I never underestimate how much a child’s emotional well-being affects their learning. I am also a learning specialist and there are very few in South Africa. I analyse and determine how effective a child’s learning routine is and then show them where they need to work on improving their learning strategies. Being able to give parents a more rounded and holistic overview of their child, is what makes me different from other remedial therapists.

 

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

http://hookedonlearning.co.za

https://www.facebook.com/hookedonlearning

https://za.pinterest.com/hooked_learning/

https://twitter.com/TheParentBlog

Meet blogger and momentrepreneur Belinda: “Success for me is doing what I love, making a decent living and working around my family”.

Today we find out more about South African mom blogger Belinda’s day job of digital copywriting. She shares how building a lifestyle business of working around her family brings her joy.

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

Hi! I’m Belinda Mountain, an Eastern Cape farmer’s daughter who now lives in Cape Town. I am married to Gareth and we have two kids, Rachel (6) and Ben (3) as well as two dogs, Juno and Buckley. We live in a house with a red roof at the foot of a mountain (haha).

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

I was working in book publishing, which I did in both England and back home in SA. I worked mostly in the marketing and digital side of things, but also did some book cover design, publicity and various other publishing odd-jobs. It was after having my first child that I quickly realised that working for somebody else wasn’t for me and I needed to find an alternative. My future business partner Catherine was freelancing at the time and came and did some social media work for the publishing company I was working for. We hit it off immediately – sharing a love of good words and all things digital. We had the idea to start a small agency specialising in producing high quality digital content – and so the idea for Black Mountain was born.

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

I would call it full time, although I probably work a 6-hour day, as opposed to the standard 8 hours (but I get a lot accomplished in those 6 hours!). The difference is that lunchtime onwards is quite difficult in terms of working, as there is the school run to do and extra murals to arrange. So often I will work 4 hours in the morning (in the office) and then the other two hours at home in the afternoon or in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

I don’t! It’s a constant challenge but I feel privileged to have the flexibility that I do. I pay rent for an office because I find that if I try and work exclusively from home, then my kids expect me to be accessible. My 3-year-old doesn’t understand why he can’t have my attention as I’m typing up an email – all he sees is his mom at home and he needs me NOW.

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

We’ve been in operation for four years now and have got some incredible clients along the way. In terms of my strategy to make it successful, I think it depends on how you measure success. My business partner and I have already decided that we don’t want to build an empire. We still want to do the actual writing and we don’t want to end up managing a team of 20 writers instead (although we do sometimes use trusted freelancers if certain projects require it). We call this a “lifestyle business”, where we can do what we love, make a decent living, but still fit our family lives around our work. I believe that in this regard, we have been successful.

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

Word of mouth has been our biggest marketing tool. We also invested quite a bit in our website recently (www.black-mountain.co.za) and this has paid huge dividends –many clients find us this way and are impressed by our previous work.

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Our biggest challenge is consistent cash flow. Because of the nature of what we do, much of our work is project based, which means that after a few months, that project will end. But we still have to pay our salaries and other expenses! So finding retainer clients who pay a set amount each month is what are always aiming for, but this is easier said than done.

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

We started with no cash injection, just one client we had secured beforehand – who would pay us a very small amount each month. We had minimal expenses and so started making a profit immediately (although not paying ourselves very large salaries those first few months!).

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

We’re a niche content agency who specialises in digital copywriting. A lot of larger agencies offer the full remit of digital services, but not many people focus specifically on content like we do, ensuring the high quality of our work. Because we’re small, we’re also agile and have fast turnaround times. Our SEO expertise (my business partner is very experienced in this field) is also a unique trait of ours, as not many writers can offer this skill too.

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

 

You can follow us on Twitter at @blackmtn and find us at

www.black-mountain.co.za

Belinda also blogs at Making Mountains

 

{Momentrepreneur} Meet Speech Therapist Laura: Don’t try and work and parent at the same time!

This week meet a Laura, a speech therapist mom who decided to take on rooms for her practice to better separate work and home, and believes that you can’t do both parenting and work at the same time.

 

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

I am a qualified speech-language therapist, wife, and mother to two little girls aged 4 and 7 years.

 

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

I worked as a PA for many years before finally taking the plunge and going back to university to study as a speech therapist. After qualifying, I worked as a full-time at a hospital, and then when I had my first daughter I went part-time at the University of Cape Town as a lecturer and clinical educator. When my second child was born I decided to go out on my own and open my own practice.

 

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

It depends! There aren’t really any such thing as fixed hours when you are self-employed. When there is work, I work and when there isn’t, I don’t. Sometimes I work 7 days a week and sometimes I only work a few hours. I never know what is going to come in and I can’t afford to turn work away, so I take it when it comes! There is also no such thing as 9-5. I try to get lots done in the mornings while my kids are at school so I can fetch them and be around in the afternoon, then once they are in bed I carry on working (but it does mean husband gets neglected, which is not great either!).

 

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

It’s a challenge. You have your business, your husband and your kids, and every time to choose to focus on one you are aware you are neglecting the other two (and never even mind spending any time on yourself!). There is no downtime and if you have been up all night with sick kids, you still have to get out there and put your business face on in the morning. You have to super-flexible and be able to switch between invoicing, building tents, making supper, wiping a snotty nose and emailing a client all in an instant! On that note, I have found that having an office at home really didn’t work for me- the children bother me constantly, and I am easy to distract as I enjoy being with them! My husband also works from home and they don’t bother him at all…I moved into offices this year and although the extra expense is a burden, I find I am much more productive. It also helps me to separate work from home-life- I found before I was constantly trying to do both, like checking emails on my phone while helping my daughter do her homework. When I try to work and parent simultaneously, I find I do neither thing well! Now, for the most part, work and home are separate. It is also getting easier to do some work at home now that they are older, although it is still inevitable that the minute I get on a business call, one of them will start shouting that they need a poo!

 

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

I didn’t initially, which was a mistake. I just kind of bumbled along and dealt with things as they came. It’s good to be flexible because you can never predict what is going to happen and how plans might change, but having a longterm vision is very important. I eventually got some help from a wonderful PR person (Claire Winson – “Entrepreneur Mom”) who helped me to figure out a business plan and how to market myself.

 

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

Most clients find me through my website. Getting a website set up with proper search engine optimisation is definitely money well-spent. It also really useful getting professional advice on how to market myself as I was making stupid mistakes (like marketing in health magazines, when my target audience was corporates).  I only recently put up a proper LinkedIn profile and I have made so many useful connections, I wish I had done it sooner.

 

I also contacted all the organisations and people in my area that I knew could make use of me (schools, doctors, hospitals, other therapists etc). I’ve found that getting in touch with my competitors and offering to collaborate and cross-refer has also been hugely helpful- we work together instead of against each other, and we all benefit.

 

Word of mouth is invaluable and I always make sure I deliver excellent service so that people will recommend me to others.

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

My biggest challenge is that my practice is growing to the point where I’d like to take someone else on, but I don’t yet have enough money to pay them a full salary (but can’t grow a caseload WITHOUT taking someone on). It’s a tricky transitional period. Also managing my admin and finances is very time-consuming and tedious as I didn’t get a good system in place to begin with. Finally, the feeling of wanting to invest time in my business to make it grow, but not wanting to miss out on spending time with my children. It’s a constant tension. Basically, my biggest challenge is how to clone myself!

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

 

Luckily I hardly needed any money to start off with as I just did home-visits and made my own therapy materials. I took on rooms this year and the extra expense has been a challenge but it is nice to have my own space. It probably took 6 months for me to break even but it still varies so much month from month. December is bad because everyone is on holiday (and out of medical aid funds!) while January is hectic because everyone has medical savings again! So some months I do well and other months I barely scrape through. I’m much less financially secure than I was when I was employed, but life is certainly more interesting, and I’m happy to do without material things for the opportunity to be around for my kids more than I was previously.

 

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

I work mostly with adults who have voice disorders, which is fairly unique in South Africa as the majority of speech therapists work with children (or with adults who have had a neurological injury). My background in corporates means I understand how business works so am not just limited to the clinical setting- my clients are call centres, CEOs, sports presenters, radio commentators…it’s really varied. While many people who work with voice come from a speech & drama background, I have the added clinical expertise. I also LOVE what I do!

  1. Share with us your social media links and website.

www.voicetherapy.co.za

Linked In

{Momentrepreneur} Meet Kristen: Seller of Second Hand Clothes: “Don’t be afraid to experiment!”

healthy-living-11This week we meet a mom who decided to make use of second hand clothes plus link up with a charity. She shares with us how she has tried different approaches to build her business.

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

I was born in Texas, but met my husband while in Cape Town on holiday, and moved to South Africa over 10 years ago. Now, I’m Mommy to two beautiful girls, Maddie and Chloe, who certainly keep me on my toes! I’ve been running this business with the support of my husband for about five months now.

 

kirsten-babeThe idea of our business came when I was clearing out my girls’ cupboards and realised, like many other parents, we had (too many!) clothes our young children had barely worn and had now grown out of. These were just sitting in the back of the cupboard collecting dust! We began our business to enable parents to clear space and make money by selling their no longer used kids clothing.

 

Parents with young kids have no spare time, unless you count the minimal hours we spend sleeping! Knowing that sorting through and selling clothes through the likes of Gumtree and Facebook is time consuming, we tried to make it as simple as possible to sell through with us. Pack the clothes into a box, drop it off at a convenient location (nationwide), and we do the rest. We photograph and list the saleable items on our e-commerce store, www.oncemore.co.za, sell,  deliver to the buyer, and pay the sale proceeds to the consignors. In addition, we sell lower priced items through our entrepreneurial network and also donate to our partnered charity, Mhani Gingi.

 

once-more-recycleWhat I’m proud about is that we’re creating is a growing network of mothers selling and buying each other’s quality kids clothing. When you’re buying something from Once More, you’re buying from another mother, very similar to you. These days clothing is so expensive, so we are trying to change the way consumers view second hand clothing. Quality clothing withstands more than you would think, and the nearly new items you get from us are a true testament to that!

 

  1. What were you doing before you started this business?

I worked in corporate administration when my husband Stuart and I had a stint in London. Since being back in Cape Town from 2013 and having our girls, I started working again with a half day job for a family business. My kids are now getting to the age where I am able to apply some of my time elsewhere, which allowed me to begin this business. But I’ve always enjoyed being a busy person, and I’m excited to see where this road takes us!

 

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

Well, I still have a half day job, but our business is full time in itself. My evenings and weekends are extremely full and busy, but my husband has been a great supporter and contributor to the business, and I couldn’t do it without him.

 

  1. kirsten-familyHow do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

It’s really hard! I’m very fortunate that both my husband and I are able to be flexible with our time, so we share the parental workload as much as possible. This and supportive family means we’re able to juggles all our responsibilities. Only just!

 

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

kirsten-sunglassesYes, I believe a plan and vision is crucial for every business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% correct, but if you’re on the right track and you’re able to execute well, you can course correct and find your way to the right strategy. I’ve found that it needs to be flexible and change as needed. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try things. If something doesn’t work out quite the way you hoped, then stop it, learn from it, and try something else. If you’re determined enough, you’ll get it right! I’ve been pleasantly surprised that my critical thinking hubby, paired with my softer, customer service oriented and creative side has made for a really good balance.

 

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

Right now, Facebook is our largest driver of new customers. We are very active on it, and have joined many groups, do loads of posts and advertise to enable us to reach and engage many potential new customers. Word of mouth is probably our next best acquirer of customers. We also use the Google Ad network, and have recently printed flyers to distribute. My recommendation to all businesses is try lots of different channels to advertise, but always assess to see how effective each is and do the ones that work best.

 

  1. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

There aren’t enough hours in the day! Our business is really ramping up, and it’s quickly turning from a start up into a fully fledged “grown up” business which requires more of our time and effort. We’ve noticed a network effect with our consignors wanting to sell their items with us (awesome!), which is keeping us ever busy. Another challenge is deciding when is the best time to scale our business into other items such as baby equipment, toys and books.

 

  1. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

We haven’t invested a significant amount of money in this business to get it going. Our approach from the get go has been to start small and iterate. We’ve experimented and tried lots of different things, and have chosen the ones which work best. We’re a consignment business so we’ve not needed to buy stock which would have been expensive. This, with very lean spending, means we are a profitable business just a few months in. But what we have invested a huge amount of, is time. We work to all hours of the morning, and over weekends to make sure we end up with a successful business.

 

  1. What makes your business unique from other brands?

At its core, we’re an online kids clothing consignment store, but what sets us aside is that we’re building a network of both buying and selling mothers. The more sellers we have, the more buyers we get, and the more buyers we have, the more sellers we get. And by building a brand and reputation that gives our customers the confidence to purchase second hand clothes online, we believe we have a business that can really succeed.

once-more-coupon

What is also unique is that not everything we sell goes through our website. We have built an entrepreneurial network where women in townships sell lower value consigned items in markets and to their own contacts. This has been a very empowering part of our business.

 

We also donate on behalf of our consignors. We have a partner charity, Mhani Gingi, where all items donated go to principals of early learning centres in townships. They then sell the clothes to parents of their pupils which builds parental responsibility and avoids handouts. All proceed from the sale of these clothes are invested into the schools.

10. Share with us your social media links and website.

once-more

 

www.oncemore.co.za

www.facebook.com/OnceMoreSouthAfrica

contact@oncemore.co.za

 

{Momentrepreneur}: JenniDezigns is a mom and daughter operation across the oceans!

healthy-living-3The stunning clothes that are JenniDezigns are actually the work of a mother daughter team, who live in Knysna and London respectively.  This team are working hard to make their brand global and clothe kids in many colours.

 

1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

Established in 2015, JenniDezigns is a mother-daughter duo; Jenny the dezigner & Sam (me, her daughter) making sure the world gets to see Jenny’s amazing craft.

From Sam:

jennipinkMom & I have had many adventures together, and now that all her kids are out the house, and I have my own children – who have just started school – we both have more time to invest in this new venture. Jenny lives in Knysna with her husband, and I live in London with my husband and two children, so we often laugh at a joke that we are a ‘global’ brand – hopefully something of the future in that!

From Jenny;

I have always loved to dress little girls in beautiful clothing which makes them feel like a princess. Over the years it became more and more difficult to find this clothing and I decided it was time to do something about it. Samantha mentioned that she thought it was time to play and show these dezigns to the rest of the world. JenniDezigns was born. The best thing is I get to play. Play with colour, fabric, textures and styles. There is nothing quite as satisfying and thrilling as having your dezign come together perfectly and then having customers who enjoy wearing it. So exciting. It keeps me awake at night.

2. What were you doing before you started this business?

Sam:

jenniquirkyI was taking time out to have my children (Ethan now 5, and Kayley 4). In London that’s pretty much a full time job as help is very expensive, and we do not have any family here to help.

Jenny: Supporting her husband in his consulting business, and raising their adopted laat lammetjie.

3. Is your business full time or part time and why?

The business is full time for Jenny, given her role as designer, lead on production – and she has the time… For me (Sam) its almost full time – I use the time the children are at school, and early mornings when the house is quiet.

4. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

Working from home adds another dimension to this question. I find it challenging to stick to the time when the kids are out to do my work – and not let it take over time with them – as its always just in the next room.

Jenny is very good at challenging me on this – when she sees it taking over. Its hard when you are passionate about what you are doing.

I have recently agreed with mom that Tuesdays are my day off – I use this to do my things, and get the house admin sorted, so the rest of the week is clear for the business. And then we both try to keep weekends free of work chat – otherwise it takes over every conversation.

5. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

jennidezignskidsWe are coming up for our 18 month anniversary – and it has been a steep learning curve about the ins and outs of the fashion industry. But this has helped shape our future plans. We started with a rough idea, and wanted to put our designs out there and see what people thought. With such an positive response, we have jumped into a bigger plan than we initially imagined.

As a small team, we have to constantly check in with each other on what we are going to focus our energy on – otherwise it would be overwhelming (which it has been at times). Setting out upfront what we believe in, and who we are as a brand has been key to making the right decisions about production partners to work with, what we focus on as a design label.

Being passionate and believing in what you do gives you the edge to boldly go out and show your work to everyone (even if its a bit scary) – because you never know who will pick it up – and when it will be what they have been looking for!

6. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

jennicuriousWe have set up a very good relationship with Out of Africa who sell our clothes at OR Tambo, CT International, V & A Waterfront, and a growing number of their outlets. We have been working on getting that relationship into a good place, and smoothing the production process that sites behind that. We are now starting to look into stocking our clothes in select boutiques in South Africa, and actively promoting sales through our website. Once this is working well, we will work on replicating this in other markets. We have already had approaches from the USA, Stockholm and the UK.

I have set up all our online profiles and do all the marketing/ new business strategy and approaches – with Jenny’s stamp of approval of course. But as we have grown, I am starting to call on the experts in specific areas. E.g. PR & E-Commerce.

To enable the scaling of production – as Jenny cant sit and sew all our orders – we have set up partnerships with supplier across the country, and continue to work on these to support the 3 primary sales channels – as each works a little differently. Investment in the local economy is a key part of our business ethos and a key element of our partner choice.

7. What’s your biggest challenge right now?/ Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

jennimom-and-daughterManaging the ambition to grow quickly, with the time and effort it takes to set up the back end production to support this. Even from our short time in business we have seen the value in making sure this is working well, before promising buyers something you can deliver on. But this takes away time from the fun creative work that we both also enjoy!

Add in the mix the usual start up challenge of funding growth. Initially we considered seeking funding from 3rd parties – but all the forms and turnaround times were a real challenge. Thankfully my husband has been a very supportive ‘Angel Investor’.

I would say that we are near to breaking even. And the plan is to be self-funding by the end of our second year of operation. In these early days profit is mostly redirected at growing the business.

8. What makes your business unique from other brands?

jennilogoClassic, Quirky, African Print Children’s Clothing for Every Occasion!

Our brand is passionate about allowing children to be children & with this the freedom to dress like children. We are excited about the vibrant, rich heritage of Africa Print and its increased profile in International fashion, and believe our brand can contribute to this by showcasing a local South African print – ShweShwe – and what it has to bring to children’s fashion.

Our passion intertwined with the ShweShwe African Print & classic, vintage girls clothing styles is what makes a JenniDezigns Original. To tell this unique story, each dezign is given its very own African name.

Our current range is aimed at girls (boys are coming soon) aged 2-7 years, where every day is an occasion to get dressed for. The range includes practical every day and party wear. All made to the highest quality to ensure comfort and durability for active children.

Our target customer includes mom’s, grannies (and other close family) who like to treat the young princesses in their lives – making sure they are dressed in bespoke, beautiful clothing.

Quality is important, and a non-negotiable for our brand. This label is Jenny’s dream. To be able to do this with her is a privilege and great fun!

9. Share with us your social media links and website.

www.jennidezigns.clothinghttps://www.facebook.com/jennidezignsclothing  twitter.com/jennidezigns1  instagram.com/jennidezigns  jennidezigns@gmail.com

{Momentrepreneur}: Meet Sanet: Who started with gift packs and expanded into a Ladygroup

momentrepreneur sanetThis week meet Sanet, a lady who decided to do something positive for South African while still in London. Creating gift packs expanded into a larger company called Ladygroup, which includes a number of different divisions.

  1. Tell us about yourself, a bit of background.

I’m a 45-year-old mom of three who was born and raised in Port Elizabeth (PE). After matriculating in 1988 I studied towards a BComm degree at Stellenbosch University before returning to back to PE where I worked in IT for 5 years before leaving for London in 1999. I ended up staying in London for 11 years before returning to home soil.

 2. What were you doing before you started this business?

 I had a job in IT at an investment bank’s trade floor in London.

  1. What prompted you to start your business?

 My dad passed away in 2002 and as I sat in my workplace I remember thinking to myself, “Is this it?” I resigned later that year. After hearing a lot of negativity about South Africa I wanted to somehow do something positive for South Africa whilst living in London. This prompted me to start a gifting company aimed at South Africans living in London who’d like to order gifts and flowers for their loved ones back home. Using South African companies and products, the flowers and gift hampers were packed and delivered in South Africa while I handled the orders in London. This, to me, was a great opportunity to create work in South Africa and support local companies and service providers.

  1. Is your business full time or part time and why?

 It used to be full-time and in the evenings, but now that I have an amazing team I am able to work mornings only on most days – even though my mind continues to work through the afternoon and evenings…

  1. How do you juggle the responsibilities of being a mom with your work?

 I’m very lucky to have a flexible lifestyle which allows me to pick the kids up from school and be with them most afternoons. I often think it would be easier to be at work full-time, but it’s still so worth it.

  1. Do you have a business plan? If so, can you share a bit about your strategy to make it successful?

 No business plan – maybe in my head… I’ve always just trusted my intuition.

  1. How do you get clients/ market yourself?

 Mostly through online marketing – social media sites, google ads, newsletters and so forth. I used to advertise in print, but I’ve realized that the returns from online marketing are much better.

 8. What’s your biggest challenge right now?

 Ladygroup’s newest division, Beauty Bar. Since adding this beauty salon to Ladygroup’s portfolio, I’ve realized that you need to know an industry before buying into it. What I know about beauty salons is quite dangerous and it has been an expensive lesson, but we will get there.

9. Did you need a lot of money to start off? And how long was it before you made a profit?

I started off with R30 000 in 2003 and only showed a profit after 5 years.

  1. sanet-ladygroupWhat makes the Ladygroup unique from other brands?

 An uncompromising commitment to customer service and great quality products.

 11. Share with us your social media links and website.

 Website: www.ladygroup.co.za

Social Media: www.facebook.com/ladygroupsa – each of Ladygroup’s divisions can also be found across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Instagram.