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!