THE MAKERS FACE2FACE EPISODE 8 – BACH AND BELL MORGAN

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

Being one of the most positive and out-of-the-box thinking people that we know, we had a chat with Babette from Bach and Bell Morgan. We chatted about everything, from being pregnant during these uncertain times, to using this time of Lockdown to figure out what it REALLY is that you want to be doing and dreaming big…

TLM: Tell us more about who you are and about your brand.

Babette: I am a shoemaker. I’ve been making shoes for 11 years now. We are based in Pretoria. We currently have 2 brands. Our ladies Bach brand and the Bell Morgan brand which is our men’s brand, both of which we sell at The Linden Market. We typically use leather on both brands, but we do make shoes out of other materials as well. We have a small factory just outside of Pretoria that employs 6 people, mostly single parents.

TLM: Except for not being able to sell at markets, how has the Lockdown impacted your business?

Babette: We’ve obviously had to stop production for the last…. I’ve actually stopped counting. So the factory has been closed. April would have been our most successful month in terms of the markets that we do and the shows that we do. So all of those have been cancelled, which has put quite a lot of stress on us. Luckily we did manage to get through April without losing any of our staff which is the biggest blessing for me. And under the new Phase 4 we are allowed to return to work at 25% as an essential service making footwear. We haven’t been back at the factory yet, but from next week we will have one member of staff in per day and they will alternate between the staff that are local. We do have staff that went home to other provinces that won’t be able to come back, but we are hoping just with that bare minimum production, that we will be able to ride this tide for at least a couple of months.

Luckily we also have a lot of stock for the shows that we were planning for April. So we’ve got loads of stock! We can sell and deliver! Our first package went out today. So grateful for that. It’s such a blessing that we know that we can deliver safely, hygienically, without our staff having to come in and then potentially carry our business through this really tough time, without compromising anyone’s health or safety.

TLM: Was there any changes that you made to your business during this time?

Babette: We obviously saw the writing on the wall quite early and we put in a few health measures in terms of the factory, the way we pack stuff and the way we were distributing stuff, even before Lockdown. So I’m quite assured that our factory is hygienic enough to return under the Lockdown rules.

In terms of what we we’ve been looking at during Lockdown… I mean our whole business has changed. We are going to have to think differently about how we do business in the future. But we see it as an exciting challenge and we are prepared for it.

TLM: Have you had any epiphanies yet about the way forward or don’t you want to share your secrets? 😊

Babette: Definitely epiphanies have happened which I’m so grateful for. I sat back during this Lockdown, thinking what is it actually that I am doing… am I following my childhood dream? Which I realized I might not quite be doing. Although I’m making shoes, I’m not making the type of shoes that I want. So it’s to dig deeper into my creative self and to produce something that is more authentically me, because everything has gone up in smoke so we might as well start over.

TLM: Just out of interest… you started making boots, then flipflops and now you’re into leather shoes. What is it that you dream of making?

Babette: It’s always been high fashion, beautiful couture type of shoes. I think there was always this thing in me, somehow it’s not African enough, or it wasn’t for this continent. And realizing that as the world gets smaller, we’ve had so many factories and designers from Italy and Spain reach out to us in their desperation, expanding their businesses in any way that they can. And going wow, if that’s what they’re doing, we should be digging deeper as well.

TLM: What is the one thing that you miss form before Lockdown?

Babette: Hugs!!!I really miss giving people hugs. Phil my husband is often at the markets with me, Bell Morgan is his brand, he’s also a pilot and he’s been based in West Africa throughout the Lockdown and he will be there for a couple more months. So I haven’t actually had physical human contact which has been quite crazy – my poor dog is getting way too many hugs…

So I miss hugs, I miss my clients, I miss just chatting to people. But at the same time I’m being positive… I’m not good with technology (you saw how long it took to get this call going 😊) and it will probably cut out before we finish, but realizing everyday we do use technology, we can connect with people, whether it’s my mom who’s out in the bush, whether it’s Phil who’s in West Africa. My approach to deal with that part that I’m missing and my clients that I’m missing, is to connect with them the same way I connect with my family. So I’ve made my Whatsapp call and my Whatsapp Video call way more open to my clients to say there’s actually a person here… If you want to see the shoe I’ll show you, I’ll turn it over, this is what it looks like… I mean I’m doing nothing else and that’s been really fun. I’ve enjoyed just having chats with clients. It’s not really about the sales, but also just about sharing my products with anyone who is interested in our brands.

TLM: So you’re pregnant and due sometime soon. Knowing so many pregnant women and women who just had babies are going through quite a tough time being in Lockdown. You’re view about this is so inspiring – will you share your thoughts on being pregnant during this time.

Babette: Phil and I are both people who face challenges head on and find solutions. And I actually asked him – had we known that there would be a pandemic, would we still have gone through this journey of pregnancy or would we have delayed it. He looked at me and said, of course we would have done this, this was our plan. You can do it safely. It’s going to be fine.

Everything has changed. The world is not going to be the same place – tough times lie ahead, but hopefully it’s for the better. To realize that bringing this little person into the world, there is positivity and there is something to look forward to and something to work for. We wouldn’t have changed our plans and are super excited to meet her.

I think it is terrifying for anyone who’s pregnant right now, but it’s to be practical and logical, not to unnecessarily put yourself in danger and then to realize that you will be fine and life can go on. Human beings are resilient and we are capable of absolute survival. It could always be much worse. But life is beautiful, life is always worth celebrating. We are lucky to live in the times that we are. Even 10 years ago we didn’t have the technology that we have now, that is making this (staying in touch) so much easier.

TLM: I feel like I’m jumping around… but what is the one thing that you do NOT miss from life before Lockdown?

Babette: Tarffic. I think the few times that I’ve been out to the doctor and to the shops for essentials, the quietness of the roads is so amazing and so peaceful. It’s actually something that I might miss after Lockdown.

I have a standing appointment with a client that I see every couple of weeks in Johannesburg. And we’ve obviously taken the meeting online now. And I‘ve decided after this I’m not driving to Joburg anymore. Why spend R300 on petrol and two and a half hours in traffic? It doesn’t make sense. So that’s been quite cool. I’ve enjoyed realizing the unlimited boundaries of social connection through the internet and social media.

TLM: As an entrepreneur and a small business owner, you have your own factory and you employ six people. How would you like the South African public to better support small local businesses?

Babette: I think it’s one thing to say buy local… I think it’s also another thing as the public, to let your local suppliers know what you want… A really big push that we are looking it, is trying to get our shoes into more of our big retailers – instead of them having to buy from overseas. If the public can recommend local brands that they support to retailers like Woolworths or Spar or one of those, because it’s quite hard for small businesses to find ways into those shops. I think that’s a different way for people to support local.

I know often it’s just easier to go grab a pair of shoes from Woollies, for instance if you need a black pair of pumps, than going online, finding a pair or waiting for a market. So I think if big retailers have this push from consumers to stock more local products that would be amazing.

Obviously to support local is always the better option, but it’s not always easy, for instance having to go search for it online… During Lockdown I had to go search for stuff online for the baby and I’ve been quite frustrated with online stores and how they work. So I can’t even imagine how other people are going about it, constantly having to buy local products online. It is a frustration, it is something that as entrepreneurs we need to address and make it easier for our consumers.

But that’s something that consumers can let us know – how it would be easier for them to get our products. And if it is easier to buy those products in stores, to tell those stores that this is what they want to see in those stores… That’s a slightly different angle on “buying local”.

TLM: Talking about buying local – where can we get your shoes?

Babette: You can always check us out online. We are on Facebook and on Instagram – both of these have links to online stores that are now delivering. Otherwise you can give us a call, or Whatsapp us if you want to chat about the products. Just reach out. It sounds difficult, but at the end of the day we are small businesses that are sitting at home, just waiting to chat about our products.

TLM: Please share a piece of hope or advice to other small business owners.

Babette: Now is not a time to be afraid – if you can weather the storm, if you can dig deep… don’t just try to survive, try to thrive. Come up with a plan that fills you as a human being, not just fills a need. That might sound a little bit of a cliché in a time of essentials, but that’s been my deep, deep thinking of this… it’s going to end and then I want to be in a position where my soul is ready to move and rock and get going again. Think about the future and start planning for the kind of future that you want for your business, and for yourself and your family. To really know what that is and to put that into practice now, during this most difficult time. If you believe it, it will happen. I truly believe it. It takes a lot of faith, but nothing is impossible.

THE MAKERS FACE2FACE EPISODE 7 – Hobby Animals

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

Antoinette is so creative… first working as a magazine stylist, then she became a wedding gown designer and boutique owner. She left it all to follow her absolute passion and makes the cutest kids toys and now, also masks. Here is what she had to say during our chat…

TLM: Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your business/brand?

Antoinette: I studied food and clothing technology, I completed my diploma and started working for Finesse magazine as a stylist. I loved my designing… so I decided to have a go on my own and I started my own boutique. I designed my own wedding and evening wear. And in 2008 I decided I’m not a surgical doctor anymore, I can’t make everybody beautiful 😉 and I began Hobby Animals. I design and make soft toys and décor for kids and sell them at craft markets. For me it’s not just a business. It’s my passion. I really love what you do.

TLM: How has the Lockdown impacted your business, but also you as a person?

Antoinette: By the time they announced the Lockdown all my markets was already cancelled. So there was no income – it was a bit difficult. For me… because I work by myself everyday it wasn’t that bad until I start feeling frustrated (like I sometimes do) and now I couldn’t just get into my car and go to a factory store or a haberdashery. That was the most difficult for me. Not to be able to go out and do the things I love to do to relax.

TLM: How have you adapted your approach to your business?

Antoinette: As I mentioned all markets was cancelled so in order for me and my business to survive I ha dto look at all my options, which was not a lot. I couldn’t do deliveries as I’m not an essential service. So I started designing and manufacturing facemasks for kids and then for adults. I concentrate more on the masks for kids as I though kids won’t like to wear masks – so I created these cute animal masks that they will like to wear.

TLM: Where can we get these masks?

Antoinette: I currently only advertise on FB and from the 4th we can start couriering.

TLM: What is the one thing that you wanted to do wanted to achieve by the end of Lockdown?

Antoinette: I wanted to design a full new range of toys, and I’ve done it. So I’m just waiting for the fabric store s to open to start my production again. Hopefully they will open soon because currently the only material you can buy at the fabric stores are essential fabrics for masks and that won’t do for my toys.

TLM: You’ve been designing and making masks, what else have you bene doing during Lockdown?

Antoinette: I spent a lot of time with my family and it brought us a lot closer to each other. Everything is usually such a mad rush and now we’re all in this space where nothing has to be a mad rush.

TLM: What is your favourite part of the day?

Antoinette: My passion and the love for my work. The coffee that Allan (my husband) always bring for me. His cooking is to die for. Everyday it was just nice to have somebody there, with me, everyday as I’m so used to being alone during the day.

TLM: What is the one thing you do not miss of life before Lockdown?

Antoinette: The dirty streets, the traffic and the rush.

TLM: What have you learnt during this time of isolation?

Antoinette: That we have become spoilt over the years and that we need to stop and smell the roses every now and again. We have to look after each other in South Africa.

TLM: How would you like South Africans to better support small businesses like yours?

Antoinette: I think we all need to stop running to the China Mall for a cheaper option. We really have amazing creators and we should rather support them. Rather spend your money on a good quality product.

TLM: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs and makers and creators?

Antoinette: Don’t give up. There’s lots of options – just have a look around, talk to your friends, your family. Sometimes a new eye or a fresh perspective can open up something new for you, open up new doors for you. We are so focussed on ourselves and our own little thing. So don’t give up!

THE MAKERS FACE2FACE EPISODE 6 – SIM CERAMICS

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

Chatting to Simone from Sim Ceramics you can just hear the passion in her voice when she starts speaking about working with porcelain. She makes the most intricate, beautiful handcrafted jewellery pieces from porcelain and sterling silver. She also makes use of etching and the Japanese art of Nerikomi to enhance each piece, creating unpredictable and imperfect patterns. Have a look at her website to explore these unique jewellery pieces… We wanted to hear how she is doing during Lockdown and what she has been up to…

TLM: Tell us a little more about who you are, about your brand Sim Ceramics and how you got into doing what you’re doing?

Simone: I’m actually a brand designer and 2 years ago I fell ill. Friends of mine then bought me a ticket to London to go visit them for a month and I wanted to make them a gift. Up until then I was making sculptures, and bigger pieces, but I couldn’t do long sittings anymore and so I started making smaller things. So as my gift of appreciation, I made 2 little broaches. When she saw them she loved it and told me to take it further. She said I can’t stop now… So Sim Ceramics essentially started through the giving and making of a gift.

TLM: So do you now make jewellery fulltime?

Simone: Nope. I’m a brand designer by day and a jeweller by night. So it’s a little bit of a juggle.

TLM: Do you like the juggle between 2 jobs? Or would you rather be making jewellery full time?

Simone: I’m striving to make jewellery full time. There’s a sense of grounding – it’s just amazing to be working with porcelain. It just brings everything back to now – it’s an amazing process to be part of and that’s what I would like to do in the future more of… So, I’m hoping it will grow.

TLM: How has the Lockdown impacted you and your business(es)

Simone: From my jewellery side, it brought everything to a stop. The Linden Market is one of my biggest incomes. And with no market – there’s no income. The online side is still very quiet. I used to meet people at The Linden Market and they would become online clients – so I’m used to it being quiet in-between.

BUT I booked a ceramic residency for the last 2 weeks in April, in Cape Town, with Wendy Gers who is a phenomenal ceramicist. So, she changed the 2 week residency into a 25 week online residency. So now instead of only having 2 weeks, we get to spend the rest of the year with her. On a once a week basis. So in a way I think that was exactly, beautifully planned. How precious is that?

On the freelance designing side, things are starting to quieten down now. But we’re keeping our hopes and spirits up.

TLM: What do you do to make your days full?

Simone: Except for my online classes, we’re working on our long term ideas of where we currently are and where we would like to be. So it’s quite an inspiring time.

TLM: How has the Lockdown changed your approach to business?

Simone: I actually think the Lockdown has changed ME…. I think we tend to hustle a hell of a lot. And we tend to forget about ourselves. During the Lockdown I introduced a “Holy Hour” every day, where I do a lot of reflection, a lot of writing/journaling, sketching, reading some inspiring stories. We don’t often get time to sit down and recollect our thoughts and ourselves in the process and I actually realized how tired I am. So for me it’s a good, a nurturing phase. It’s surrendering. As you can’t plan for tomorrow, this is practising to stay in the now – and we all have issues with that…

TLM: What is the one thing that you would have liked to achieve by the time that Lockdown is over?

Simone: I haven’t really thought about it in that way… the plans that I do have is a little bit more long term, rather than just looking at after the Lockdown. I actually think just creating good habits that I can keep going when Lockdown is done. So I’m trying to create a new healthier lifestyle in a way.

TLM: What is the one thing that you miss most about life before Lockdown?

Simone: Swimming… I really want to go swim. I used to go swimming (for exercise) about 3/4 times a week. It’s a process that I just love because everything in my head clears. I’m missing my long walks too. Those are the things I miss most – and obviously my family.

TLM: What is your one piece of advice or hope for other entrepreneurs, makers, creators out there to get them through Lockdown and also through the rest of the year?

Simone: To reconnect with where your passion came from in the beginning. And reconnect with yourself. So basically inward motion… We cannot go outwards now anyway – we can only go inward, so we should make the most of that. And that will then spill over into everything – because the richer you are on your inside, the richer you are on the outside.

 

THE MAKERS FACE2FACE EPISODE 5 – loveTEAtime

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

Busi is an incredibly passionate young woman and we had the best time with her during our couch session. We spoke about everything from post-Lockdown food cravings, to the importance of having an e-commerce strategy and small acts of kindness that we, as South Africans, can do to help SME’s and local entrepreneurs…

TLM: Tell us more about who you are – and also more about your brand…

Busi: I’m a young millennial, who is really passionate about entrepreneurship, as well as driving financial, digital inclusion in the country. So that’s kinda me. And then I have a business where I import different teas from Kenya. The brand is called Kericho Gold. I sell the tea at different pop-up markets as well as e-commerce platforms. I started the business in 2017.I was just travelling to Kenya and I bought my husband a gift – a luxury tea box. That’s how the business started after having a great cup of apple and cinnamon tea…

TLM: Do you travel to Kenya a lot?

Busi: I used to travel a lot – but now I have made a connection with the company who actually manufactures the tea, so now everything is just via phone and emails in order for us to order or touch base.

TLM: How has Lockdown impacted your business?

Busi: I’ve got a very interesting balance in terms of my business, I’ve alluded to earlier. So with now pop-up markets at all I have had no sales whatsoever from a brick-and-mortar type setup. I’m very dependent on pop-up markets because people get to taste the tea, they get to enjoy the tea and communicate- you get to explore. So for example not being able to trade at The Linden Market which is one of my best and top market performers is a very different experience because I don’t have my regular customers who come and buy tea. That’s the one view of it.

If I look at my graphs, yesterday I was actually doing an analysis – so there’s 0% revenue from pop-up markets because there is no trade. Then there’s the other side of the business when luckily in 2018 I made the decision to go onto e-commerce. I trade on Take-a-Lot.com where now I’ve got an upward trajectory in terms of sales on the e-commerce side because I invested in an e-commerce strategy in the earlier phases of the business. There I’m seeing a huge growth week-on-week. I have been tracking every week of Lockdown if tea is improving, so that’s been the benefit. At least I can still trade, I’m an essential good…

TLM: Except for focusing on the e-commerce side of your business, how else have you adapted your business during Lockdown?

Busi: Even if you are online, you still have to create brand presence, brand awareness and be present because you technically have a captive audience everyone is on their phone and what I have tried doing is running a digital competition on Instagram to try and engage with the followers and any tea lover or the tea community. I’m getting people to be creative, to send poems but using the word “tea”. They have to change the word like quali-tea, agili-tea, simplici-tea, I want tranquili-tea. Then I giveaway prizes. I got some really cool insights and quirky quotes from tea-lovers – it’s been a very lovely experience.

The other one was like a mugshot where you are feeling guil-tea… so you send a photo of yourself with a cup of tea and then I would add a link that redirects you to see the tea, or buy the tea etc. So that’s my play and how I have positioned seeing that I don’t have the physical interaction.

TLM: When I phoned you to ask if we could have a couch session, you were actually on the road delivering tea. Do you do all the deliveries yourself?

Busi: I only do the Takealot delivery part. I think it’s that onbe trip that I get to do where I get some me-time and I’m not with everybody else. I go to the Takealot DC, I drop it off and go back home. I’ve also got a courier company which helps me fulfil Gauteng deliveries. But it’s also very difficult getting hold of other courier companies because some aren’t fully trading, others are only delivering masks, hand sanitizers etc and not really food stuff. The winners of the online competition in Cape Town will only get their tea after Lockdown.

TLM: When you are not driving around, couriering, what else are you keeping yourself busi with during this time?

Busi: A balance – I love my TV. I’ve been watching a lot of Showmax, DSTV, Netflix. A LOT of TV time which has been really cool. Catching up on all the content and series that I have been missing. Here and there I will pick up a book, like an entrepreneurial one to give me some inspiration, which will probably then spark another creative moment. And then the domestic part, the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry… now more than ever I’m missing the ladies who help in our house. I’m suffering!!!!

Then there’s been times where we’re tired of TV so we played some games like 30 Seconds, or bake or do something.

TLM: What do you think is the one thing that you are going to miss about this time of Lockdown?

Busi: Not driving. And that’s the weirdest part – Even though I do the occasional drop-off here and there I think the whole long distance commuting, if I for instance have to go see a client – it’ll be like “but I can just phone you??” “We can just dial in to get the work done”. The fact that there is no long distance commute is one of the things I am treasuring during the Lockdown. I’m also treasuring your me-time. Like in terms of just sitting and not having to be in a crowded space. Connecting with yourself. Having time to intro-spect. To reflect on yourself as well as your business and asking yourself the difficult questions that I think we don’t have time to address when we are on the go Time to slow down…

TLM: What are you most looking forward toafter Lockdown?

Busi: The funniest thing! I had a call with my family on Sunday and we all said we want Chicken Licken.

TLM: When you went into Lockdown, what was the one thing that you wanted to achieve by the end of it?

Busi: Admin! I think that’s one of the things that as an entrepreneur you usually leave on the backburner. I was like “ja I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it…”. I still haven’t gotten to it, but I still have week. Doing the recons, data-capturing, the analysis, be able to start the next half of the year on a clean slate, knowing everything has been administered.

TLM: You said you are passionate about entrepreneurship. How would you like the South African Public to better support small business in our country?

Busi: I think buying from small businesses. I think it all starts with a purchase. It doesn’t matter how big it is, or how small it is, I think it is just about starting with a purchase. Supporting small businesses really has a ripple effect – it goes to the family. Your expense lines are not as big as big corporates so at least you know the bottom line goes to where it’s supposed to go and serve that purpose.

The second thing is also about us as entrepreneurs to collaborate now more than ever the Lockdown has sparked thoughts of creativity as well as how can I collaborate, who can I collaborate with and take my business to the next level. Because the game has changed and collaboration is the new competition… so I think that is also very important. And I think looking for tools that are out there. If I look for example at YOCO just launched a digital payment voucher system to help small businesses now during Lockdown get some cash flow. So I can buy a voucher for loveTEAtime that I can then redeem sometime in future and then it would have helped with the cash flow. So I think it is about finding those things during Lockdown that will help us post-Lockdown.

I also think beyond sales sharing brand awareness. A picture, a tweet, share – it will go far and it will end up in the home of a tea-lover without you even knowing. Just those small random acts of kindness that I think will really help small businesses and get the South African public to build this nation.

TLM: What is the one piece of hope of advice that you can give to other small businesses and entrepreneurs?

Busi: Get onto E-commerce!!!!! It’s very, very important. You need to have a balance in the strategy. If you have a physical store, get online, get a website, get an e-commerce plugpoint. It doesn’t matter if you run your own shop on your website or if you go sell on a Takealot or a Superbalist. I read an article on Linkedin, there’s a retail store in the UK, called Primark. They were making £650 000 000 a month selling clothes in their shops. Their income has gone over night to £0. Why? They had no e-commerce strategy, no e-commerce plan. That’s like being a millionaire to completely broke overnight. So get an e-commerce strategy.

The second thing – Digitise your business in other ways as well. If you were trading at pop-up markets like The Linden Market and you didn’t have a card-machine or you didn’t take QR-codes payments. There’s so many players in the market – get a YOCO, Zapper, Snapscan get something! Get digital because after this there is going to be less cash trading hands, because people are going to be freaked out – have I sanitized that R100 bill? And if you don’t have digital payment systems people will move on to the next stall. Digitize, digitize, digitize!

And the last thing is talk. If you need help, talk. If I can’t help you, I will find someone who can. Don’t struggle in silence. That’s the direction we as a society should go in. If we truly believe in Ubuntu as one of the values, then now more than ever it’s the time to live it.

THE MAKERS FACE TO FACE EPISODE 4 – 4AM

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

The 4AM band played at The Linden Market Autumn Edition and the crowd absolutely loved them. We recently posted their Lyric video on our Social Media pages of their new single African skies (you can check it out again). We spoke to their lead singer Marc Wainstein to hear what he and the band, has been up to since Lockdown…

TLM: Tell us a little bit more 4am…

Marc: We’re a fun, party acoustic vibes band from Edenvale Johannesburg. We love playing fun, uplifting music. We write our own stuff, we do some covers, we love being interactive with the crowed and get everybody dancing.

TLM: Tell us how you got together, where the name 4am comes from.

Marc: 5am was taken… Just joking… we’re actually high school mates. Through the years the music evolved. We used to be a full-on electric rock band. I actually put the guitar down for a while. I was just over it. The I started playing the good old acoustic guitar again, started learning some covers, and I thought it sounded fun… then  I had to change my writing style and the old 4am songs, to being acoustic, from the normal rock and roll sound we had.

It was very challenging in the initial stages, but the positive feedback that we get is amazing and it certainly has opened up a lot of opportunities to play at beautiful markets like The Linden Market, interact with a lot more people. I think it’s a more diverse style of music, our acoustic-folk-party vibe. We’ve had some nice success on radio and TV and we are very grateful for all of that.

TLM: How has the Lockdown impacted you and the band personally?

Marc: It’s impacted in a massive way in terms of us not being able to play live and generate that sort of income. However on a positive note, we have been extremely busy online, and getting a lot of exposure and traction from that, doing interviews like this and I’ve done a few live sessions for other Facebook pages and it really has helped tremendously.

We also released the lyric video for our new single African Skies. It’s a song to really uplift everybody during these times, and bring everybody together. We’ve got more of a surprise coming with that – we’ve asked fans and friends and family to send us short little clips of them in isolation dancing to African Skies. People have dressed up, people have done choreographed stuff, which we will also be releasing soon, you can just keep an eye on our Facebook Page. I’ve also done some ridiculous isolation videos of 4am on Youtube as well. It’s just there to uplift everybody during this time.

Certainly it has impacted the market tremendously, but we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and the music will continue.

TLM: What is the one thing that you would like to have achieved or get done by the end of Lockdown?

Marc: I think writing more material… I wrote a song the other day and it was really fulfilling, so writing one or two more as we are going into studio as soon as Lockdown is over. We also have the new EP coming. We have a nice bunch of songs already. So I guess that’s my goal – to write as much material as possible. And to still be in the public eye via social media and lift people’s spirits.

TLM: Except for writing, what else are you doing to keep yourself busy?

Marc: I actually run a telecommunications company and I am really busy with that. With Lockdown it’s not easy to see people face to face, but I try to get in contact with dealers and new customers, and keep the train rolling. It’s imperative for the entire economy. You’ve got to take a situation like this and literally make the most of this. You’ve got to make contact with people sitting in “category 13 gathering dust”, just really try your utmost to keep as active as you can.

I also do exercise in the garden, the kids join me, try to keep fit during this time as well. It has been challenging but I think it is such a blessing to spend the time with family and really appreciate the outdoors, really appreciate life as a whole. I think that’s what this time has given us.

TLM: In your ideal world, how would you like the public to better support local music?

Marc: Obviously it’s about supporting live events like The Linden Market and coming out and having a good time. Just supporting live events in general. That is where promoters continue to generate income from, so they need the support; that’s how musicians get paid by promoters.

The other thing is downloading our music. 4am has two albums on all the platforms Itunes, Spotify, Deezer, so even while you are in isolation, you can continue to support us, as well as like and share on social media.

TLM: Being a positive person yourself, what piece of hope or advice can you give other musicians and entrepreneurs during this time of Lockdown?

Marc: It’s such a compliment that you think I am positive as I literally work on it every single day. I listen to positive audio, I write down positive affirmations and stand in my garden and declare these affirmations out loud every single day. I meditate and I focus on all the wonderful things every single day, to bring that type of energy back to you.

I think that’s what the whole country need to do. Entrepreneurs should be looking from a positive perspective, at what they CAN do during this time. The wheels haven’t stopped turning for me, even with work, I stay as busy as I can. I encourage the country to do the same, whether it’s making your ten calls a day, or sending your 10 emails a day, or posting your uplifting message on Facebook, or Instagram or whatever that makes someone feel good, go out and do it, because it will make someone else feel uplifted and go out there and do it as well.

To see the African Skies Unity Lockdown Video Click here, it’s really cool and will make you smile for sure!

21 DAYS = 21 OPPORTUNITIES

21 Ideas to incorporate in your business during Lock Down

21 Days - 21 Opportunities guide

It has been the belief for many years that it takes 21 days to break a habit and 21 days to create a new (better) habit. These days it seems that the consensus is that it varies from the individual to individual and can take anything from 18-254 days. Without boring you here is the point we are trying to get across – we have 21 days of lock-down. 21 days you can see as wasted, or 21 days you can see as an opportunity to become better, to make your business better, to become closer to your family and to make a difference by staying inside. 

Even though there isn’t a general consensus about how long it takes to make or break a bad or good habit… It takes time and time is something we don’t usually have enough of… in our personal capacity, as well as in our businesses. However with lock down now being locked down we will have ample time to either grow, to just stay the same, or to become worse i.e. worry, be paralyzed by fear, become lazy or just give up. 

We, as the TLM team, choose the first option. Download our guide to see our 21 ideas to implement in your business during the Lock down. We believe this will help you use the time efficiently, help you and your business  become stronger, more organized and ready for the times that lie ahead.  

TLM GUIDE BLOG BANNER

THE MAKERS FACE TO FACE EPISODE 3 – STEVE UMCULO

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

Having played a couple of gigs at The Linden Market, we just love the vibrancy that Steve brings to the stage. We had a chat to hear what the man behind the colorful shirt and tekkies are doing to stay busy and positive during Lockdown. (PS. stay tuned to hear the awesome song he composed just for us: Lose the Lockdown Blues…)

TLM: Tell us a little bit more about who you are, where you come from and how you got into the music industry…

Steve: I’m a Jozi-born singer song-writer, lived here my entire life. I do a bit of folk, and afro-centric grooves. That’s my style, it’s a blend of the two.

How I got into the music industry… since I was a laaitie, I always had a fascination with music. I then went off to Grahamstown, now Makhanda, to study music. I played drums for a while and then decided that I wanted to take to the front of the stage. I started writing music from a groove perspective – using my drum knowledge to incorporate into a bit of song writing. I then tried to develop my singing skills and guitar playing to the point where we are today. Where I sing and write songs for a living.

TLM: So where does the Umculo come from?

Steve: My actual name is Steve Haiden and my stage name is Steve Umculo which means ‘music’ in Zulu and Xhosa. I was living in Spain for a year (where the entire project was born). Ironially when I lived there I was listening to a lot more Afro-centric music, because I was missing home. That’s when I started writing these types of Grooves. I started writing songs based on Kwaito music etc, and I just found that I resonated with the style a lot better, than the folk stuff that I was concentrating on before that. Steve Umculo is my attempt at a cultural blend, between Western and African cultures.

TLM: The lockdown has impacted industries across the board, and the world. How has it impacted the music industry and your career, personally?

Steve: It’s been very interesting to watch, from a sort of insider and outsider perspective, because you are feeling everything at the same time while watching all of this unfold on social media. So for me personally, as much as all musicians and all small businesses have found income streams just cut… It was a case of once the national disaster was announced, I’m assuming all musicians just got calls from booking agents saying all gigs have been cancelled. That’s our primary source of income – playing live shows.

There’s an entire movement now, trying to get royalties from streaming, there’s a YouTube movement to try and monetise that. But to be honest Live Music will continue to be the main stream of income – royalties, unless you are Ed Sheeran, is very difficult to make a sustainable living from. The biggest impact has been the main income stream cut off.

Me personally, I’m just playing a zero sum game – It’s a case of I’m trying not to spend while I’m not earning. But I know there are musicians out there who have massive overheads, massive debt, and now they can literally not earn a wage which is devastating – it will crumble a lot of artists unfortunately.

TLM: The actors union SAGA went to government and freelance actors can now apply for a grant for any income that they can prove they have lost since the lockdown. Is there something like that out there for musicians?

Steve: There is funding from the department of arts and culture where artists can apply and prove that you have lost income from April to June, they will reimburse you for whatever losses you have taken on. There are initiatives out there, very cool initiatives, both governmental and private, that are attempting to sustain artists who are losing income during this period.

It’s a pretty interesting movement to see now, particularly because it’s never been dealt with until there’s been a massive problem like this. People have always just been hustling, hustling, trying to figure out exactly what they are worth, what their time is worth in the arts field. But now that we can literally not make any money, they are trying to help us out.

I don’t know if you saw the page by Kerry Ann Allerston from Mix FM, Artist Support SA https://www.facebook.com/Artist-Support-SA-104225507880082/ where people can go and just donate money to artists. There’s a bunch more initiatives like that in the music industry now. It’s so fascinating to see because that would never have happened, had we not had this pandemic. It’s good to see this humanitarian movement – we need to help our fellow humans, so how do we do that?

TLM: You can’t do live gigs right now… so what are you doing with your time at home?

Steve: I’ve been working on an album for about a year. And going into 2020 I said to myself in order to get the most exposure for this album, I’m going to play 150 gigs. I was actually doing pretty well. And then this little thing called Corona Virus happened… lol – so that goal has now gone out of the window, there is no was I’m going to do 150 gigs before the ned of the year.

Now I’m using these 3 weeks, to sit down and really, really focus on my album. I’ve also just signed with a record label in France, so I’m communicating with them a lot about how we’re going to release this thing, when is the right time, what the strategy after the Lockdown is. There’s this ongoing communication about how best to strategize the release of the album.

Then there’s also things like social media pages, content that I’ve been working on, I’ve just released a song called Lemonade Stand that I’m working on a music video for. So there’s stuff to do, but unfortunately none of that is going to generate income right now. As an artist you kind of have to view this as a time of investment – that’s the best we can do right now.

TLM: What is the one thing that you would like to have achieved by the end of Lockdown.

Steve: The one thing is to have the album demos ready. To have a very good blueprint of my album. Taking the album out of Lockdown into a studio and then releasing it. Have the sound mapped and then have a very good strategy of how to release it afterwards. And then once this Lockdown is over, gigging as much as possible. But I think there’s going to be a big scramble from artists and booking agents, festivals to get as many dates as possible. So basically, just to keep communication up, work on the album, and once Lockdown is over hit the ground running again.

TLM: During Lockdown and especially after Lockdown, the world won’t be the same again. So in Steve Umculo’s world… how would you like the public to better support local musicians?

Steve: This is actually a conversation I’ve had with my booking agent, what the strategy is going forward. At the end of this we’re going to hit a pretty hardcore global recession. Probably the biggest one we’ve seen since 2008. And the harsh reality is that while artists and musicians, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and all the rest won’t have money, it’s also going to hit the corporate sector pretty big. So in a perfect world would love for people to come out and support live music. That’s always been my prerogative, because it’s A, our bread and butter, and B also the thing that brings me the most joy. To see live artists. But you can’t have this expectation of people all of a sudden spending money on live performances, because not many people are going to have disposable income coming out of this.

So I suppose to get the ball rolling again, it’s a case of support where you can. Even if it’s like a share on social media, even if it’s going to a free show, whatever the case is. We can still use our time to better help our fellow human beings. While we won’t necessarily have money coming out of this we can still use what we do have at our disposal. Whether time or our social media capabilities, we can generate some form of income coming out of this and this is going to come from the general public supporting art. That’s my romantic notion but hopefully something people can engage with.

TLM: What piece of advice, hope or encouragement can you give to your fellow artists and entrepreneurs.

Steve: With the disclaimer that I too am going through an existential crisis right now, the one thing that I think is just so important, for artists everywhere and for entrepreneurs, freelancers, is just to keep working. Don’t feel lethargic, don’t feel apathetic, don’t feel like this is the end of the world. Because once this is all over, and the clogs start ticking again (the entertainment industry and small business is probably the last clogs that will start ticking again), but they will eventually carry on moving. We can’t just drop what we’re doing and pursue another route – that’s not how economy works. Everybody keeps doing what they are good at, what they love, what they are passionate about, and eventually we will recover. So please please, please, to everybody who is listening out there, even if it’s just one guy, JUST CARRY ON WORKING.

To listen to Steve’s happy pandemic song 😉, Lose the Lockdown Blues, click on the video above.

 

 

 

THE MAKERS FACE TO FACE EPISODE 2 – HelenBean.Com

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

One of our most regular makers and a beautiful soul… Helen from HelenBean.Com (she makes the most exquisite ceramic pieces), gave us some of her precious time and agreed to chat to us. One of the most profound things she said – and this is the reason why we are doing this series, to give people hope, to inspire and be there for each other – she said, “I’m quite ok with where we are now, but I know it’s going to change, I know it’s just temporary. Being an entrepreneur in this environment, we know what hard times are. So it’s just hard times, for now…”

TLM: Tell us a little bit more about who you are, where you’re from, as well as a bit more about your brand…

Helen: I was born and bred in Pretoria. I was in the Restaurant industry for such a long time and then we left that. I didn’t know what I was going to do. My daughter and my husband spurred me on to do something creative. I always knew that I was creative, but I‘ve never actually done it. So when I finished my first project it was so rewarding, and in 2016 my husband bought me a pottery course for a month and that’s where it started. I never knew that it was going to grow into something that I enjoy and know that people love to have something of me and my piece in their homes. It fills me with a lot of joy. My brand’s name HelenBean.Com.

TLM: On which platform do you sell your ceramics?

Helen: Instagram, Facebook, but markets predominantly. I love the interaction with people. Because I work from home, to have those 6 hours to connect with somebody is wonderful. I am however working on online things, so slowly, slowly we’ll get there.

TLM: As one of our most regular vendors, how long have you been a maker at The Linden Market?

Helen: It was actually one of the first market that I joined in 2017 – a year after I started the business. I love The Linden Market. I love the environment, what it stands for, the people, how we get together, and how we support each other, it’s absolutely phenomenal. And it’s growing every year. It’s beautiful.

TLM: How has the Lockdown impacted your business?

Helen: Sjo, quite phenomenally. It’s non-existent in a sense. In these times, if you think about this pandemic, I know that I’m not going to sell. I wouldn’t want to, actually. I feel guilty selling my products, because people need to pay their rent, their mortgages, their home loans, they have to put food on the table. So, I’m quite ok with where we are now, but I know it’s going to change, I know it’s just temporary. Being an entrepreneur in this environment, we know what hard times are. So it’s just hard times, for now…

TLM: How have you adapted your approach to your business or are you just having some downtime?

Helen: No, I’m still doing what I’ve been doing all along. I have started meditating and all the rest of it. And being online, I have actually started posting on a daily basis, because I need that connection. I think it’s a way to connect and the internet is wonderful for that. So that’s one way of adapting, but I don’t think there’s a blueprint for it right now. I think we have to get through this first.

TLM: What is the one thing that you would like to achieve of get done, by the time that Lockdown is over.

Helen: Yes! The website. I have to get the website up. But it’s so difficult, because there’s so many beautiful products, and you can’t put too much information out there. But I’m sure I’m going to do it, one step at a time. It’s achievable.

I also want to get back to the fundamentals of my craft. The beginning. I think you have to revisit that. Because that’s when new ideas will come through. But I think most good things happen in isolation. I mean look at artists all over the world, they created beauty, through being alone. So keep going. Keep making.

TLM: You’re meditating, and busy with the website… what else are you doing to keep busy during this time?

Helen: Also cleaning. I’ve been de-cluttering. But I’ve been doing it gradually, because I know if I do too much, then I’m just going to leave it because I get bored. That’s just how I am. I’ll start with something and then I’ll leave. So I’ll  do a drawer a day or a shelf a day.

I’m doing an online drawing thing as well because my drawing is really bad. It’s really interesting. I mean the first lesson we had to do just circles. We had to do a hundred circles in different shapes, different ovals. It was intense. And it wasn’t easy at all.

TLM: OK, wait. So if you say that you don’t draw… where do the patterns on your ceramics come for?

Helen: Well a lot of them are imprints from plants, because I love nature. The protea is one of my daughter’s drawings. She’s the artist. That’s why we also implemented the intimate range, where Zoey does her one-line drawings. It’s a collaboration between mother and daughter. And also the connection… It’s actually stronger with the two of us. We play around with ideas. She is also of the younger generation. I realized that there was a niche that I needed to connect with – that was the 18-28 year olds. I think it’s working quite beautifully.

TLM: What is the one thing that you look forward to everyday during the Lockdown?

Helen: There are actually 2. Breakfast with my family. And then the downtime. Right at the end of the day, because we are all doing our separate things. I’ve always loved to sit outside, even just to go walk on the grass. Just breathe and see the beauty around us. And be grateful for what I have.

TLM: What is the one piece of advice or hope that you can give entrepreneurs?

Helen: Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re going to create continuously. You have to get up in the morning, you’ve got to make your bed, you’ve got to just keep going. Don’t give up.

And support each other. There’s no blueprint of how to get through this time, but just keep doing what you love, that’s the most important thing.

THE MAKERS FACE TO FACE EPISODE 1 – THE GREEN CABIN

Staying in touch from our couch to yours #thepowerofsmall

It’s been almost a month since the last Linden Market Autumn Edition and we are desperately missing all our Makers during this time of Lockdown. So we decided to have couch parties and catch-up sessions, just to hear what they have been up to and how they are staying positive during this time. We must say that we have been inspired beyond words and we are truly blessed to work with these incredible people.

In our first episode we chatted to Andi Shaugnessy from The Green Cabin…The Green Cabin provides Luxury, nontoxic and biodegradable detergents sold only in refillable packaging. You can buy online and your order will be delivered to your door, reducing chemical exposure in your home and reducing the use of single use plastic (During this time of Lockdown they have a special licence to deliver).

In our chat with Andi, you will hear more on how the brand came about and how you can actually support this local business during Lockdown.

TLM: Tell us a little bit more about yourself and your brand.

Andi: It’s been an interesting journey. I have actually been in the live entertainment industry for years. As much as I loved it I just couldn’t handle the hours and I decided to choose a little more of life and love and relationships and going to parties and all that 😉

We then moved into an estate and a lot of communication came back telling us that our grey-water is so toxic with chemicals from our homes, our washing machines and all the detergents we are using – we were fighting a big pathogen and algae issue in our rivers. So a plea came from our Estate Managers, asking if we could all switch to bio-degradable detergents, and as a team we started clearing up our grey-water and our water systems. Then I realized that these products were quite hard to find, and they were quite expensive. So I thought let me fill that gap and supply the estate with what they need. After a lot of hunting, I found the most amazing suppliers. I buy directly from the manufacturer which helps with the cost, because it is all about affordability.

I secured my supplier and then I thought to myself there is no way that I am selling bio-degradable detergent in plastic packaging. It adds 25% to the cost and it also goes against the whole mantra of our landfills and the issues we are having with that and so the refilling concept started. I got a little trailer – which is what the company is named after The Green Cabin, sort of like a little cabin on wheels.

So I drive into all the estates, people bring their own bottles (you can buy bottles from us as well). You buy your “starter” bottle and then you keep refilling, so you are literally just paying for product. So I was doing this quite successfully – I have about 50 homes in my immediate area that are now using us, but that’s because I can contact them, and deliver to them quite easily and affordably.

There was however a bit of a plea to extend the service to outside the estate, so then I went online. So now we have our little what we call Decanto, (our Picanto car) that drives to you, refills, or delivers the products that you ordered online. The whole point is getting the people into the refilling revolution way of life. We make it so easy for you. It has to be convenient and it has to be affordable.

TLM: How has the Lockdown impacted your business?

Andi: Its been such a roller-coaster because only 2 weeks before Lockdown, my website went live for online purchases. In that time we managed to do 7 or 8 deliveries, funnily enough even to the Western Cape areas, East London and some in Joburg as well. And this manic buying that we were seeing in the shops, was happening to us – hand-sanitizer for example is one of the products in our range… I didn’t want people to think we were cashing in on the pandemic, so I started holding open tables at my estate, selling the sanitizer at 50% discount. I wanted to do the reverse of cashing in. There was this mad rush for people to stock up. And then fear set in and even though we have a permit to drop and go, I think people are fearful and will rather stick with the main centers. People are also scared to do anything wrong, they are scared of ordering things, so now it has gone very quiet.

So I am just concentrating on servicing the people in my estate, keeping them stocked up and staying present…

TLM: What is the one thing that you would have liked to achieve by the time that Lockdown is over?

Andi: It’s been a very sad thing, but actually a time that you can use so effectively. For me personally in my business, I am more on the creative, operational side of life, so the details of my accounts, and the invoicing system, and all of that has been left behind. This is a time now where I’m getting myself on an accounting system, I’ve got some amazing students who are out of work , who have fabulous brains to put to the operation – helping, getting involved. So I’m getting my ducks in a row, my financial ducks in a row, I’m putting my stock onto an accounting system, doing stock take, so that I know exactly what I have (which is a laborious job). I’m creating content, thinking of interesting silly fun videos to share… just no pressure – nothing to heavy.

Also just taking it easy. I think when you work for yourself, you become a bit stressed out, thinking everyday you have to be driving business. It’s not going to happen right now. But I think there is so much that we can do, so that when we come out on the other side, we are going to be such a more slick operation – understand our operation so much more.

I’m not wasting the time… we made ourselves lists and we stick with the lists.

TLM: What gets you through everyday?

Andi: The time flies and stops, flies and stops. It depends. I love doing fun things of creating new stuff. Actually there’s a bit of everything in my day. A little bit of gardening. A little bit of painting. A little bit of creating videos. There’s also getting to the real stuff and sometimes I just decide to watch a documentary or a movie. But I must say The Green Cabin is on the forefront of my mind the whole time. I don’t ever want to look back on this time and regret the time that we’ve had to get all of this in order. So I do put a little bit of pressure on myself but it’s probably good thing.

Also spending time with family. My daughter and I are having a lot of fun. We are very similar, she’s very involved in the business.

Some days are amazing and some days it just bogs you down a bit. But we are fortunate. Very fortunate.

TLM: As we are all going through this at the same time – what piece of advice or piece of hope would you give to entrepreneurs?

Andi: I think it’s important not to stress. I think it’s important to stay calm and rational. And try and imagine what the world is going to be like on the other side of this. It’s not going to be the same. I think we almost have to take out chrystal balls and imagine how life has changed – in some ways for the better. In some ways we may become so much less wasteful in terms of driving up and down… and try and imagine how your business is going to fit in on the outside of this.

For example for me it’s about the massive amounts of plastic. The world has a bottle shortage… so in terms of packaging, and trigger sprays and all that kinds of stuff, you can’t access it. We are going to have the worst pandemic in our landfills after this that ever before. From a green peace frame of mind I am imagining a world with way too much plastic and people aren’t thinking about that now. It’s going to become the next pandemic that we are all going to have to deal with. So I’m imagining a world of dealing with all of that. Once again it’s making use of the bottles we have and educating people.

I think it’s a time for entrepreneurs to get extremely creative. Get yourself tech-savvy, get online. Don’t waste this time – think out of the box. You’re not going to sell aggressively to anyone right now. So keep your current customers happy by having conversations with them. You’re not going to gain a bunch of new customers now and you shouldn’t be concentrating on that.

TLM: You mentioned that you have licence for the online shop and for delivering products. Where can people get hold of you?

Andi: Yes! So the online shop is running. People can go to www.thegreencabin.co.za or email me directly at andi@thegreencabin.co.za

Lockdown: 21 Days. 21 Opportunities.

Although it may be hard – let’s use this time for something good!

The Linden Market 21 Days, 21 Opportunities

Tonight at 23:59 most of South Africa will go under lockdown.  Times are uncertain, and our economy and businesses will all need to brace the impact of this unprecedented time in our Human history.

We take on this burden, because it is simply the right thing to do. To protect South Africa’s vulnerable communities and give our country a fighting chance against an invisible force.

Whether at home or still active with operations, we are all together in this and united in connecting with and protecting our families, and at the end of this period, to get our businesses and country up, running, healthy and growing again.

From our Linden Market family to yours, please stay safe and although it will be extremely hard, try to use this time given for something good. These 21 days, present 21 opportunities.

As entrepreneurs we always feel like we never have enough time.

Depending on what your priorities or focus is right now, it will be a good time to put a Lockdown-plan together by answering these questions;

What is a problem I would like to solve that I have not had time to think about?

  • Haven’t quite gotten down to getting your product library or copy up to date for eCommerce? Now is a great time.
  • There are amazing online courses & resources on Facebook, eCommerce, SEO or any other discipline imaginable.
  • Plan your growth strategy and brand strategy. This needs think-time!

What is something I can control right now that needs my attention?

  • How about that heap of admin you have been nurturing for some time now?
  • Apply to the SMME support fund.
  • You will be in lockdown, but you can look after your fitness and health! Why not just start slowly and kick it up a gear when everything is over?
  • Decluttering is a big one to tackle. Clean space, clean mind.
  • Get creative! When was the last time you were creative just for yourself? Recharge your inspiration.
  • On a lighter note, maybe you still need to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones?

Who can I connect with in this time I have been meaning to contact?

  • As entrepreneurs our businesses are like our babies, but also use a big chunk of this time given to spend time with our families and speak to our friends. Use the technology to your disposal, and make the best of it. We really love the idea of Zoomtini time! (Martini’s over Zoom)

Set your goals, put a plan in action to make them happen, and at the end of the 21 days you would have been productive and more ready to take on the world.

Although we are apart, we are all together in Lockdown.

Stay safe everyone,

The Linden Market Team