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.