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Brand Crush Collab: Uzuri

I’m always on the lookout for beautiful local brands that inspire me. Magdel and her partner are the creatives behind Uzuri, a small Stellenbosch based design studio set on making beautiful, conscious products that are rooted in simplicity and quality. I’ve recently had the pleasure of exhibiting at a market with them, and asked them if they would be willing to answer a few questions for a Brand Crush Collab feature. Lucky me, I also got to wear some of their lovely pieces (thanks Emmajanenation for the lovely pics)! Here’s what they had to say:

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Please tell me a bit more about the inspiration behind your brand and products. 

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Our story started in 1999 – we were both grade 8 at the same small town high-school. Ever since then, we had a collective dream to create beautiful things, but in our own way + on our own terms: products which were mindfully selected by the consumer, which could stand the test of time and thwart the culture of continuous consumerism. Our shoes are crafted by a small team and therefore quantities remain limited and exclusive.aWe design shoes we would love to have as staples in our own closets 😊 All shoes are sampled before production & durability must rival beauty, always. The men and women who craft our shoes are the crowning glory of Uzuri – the wisdom, the joy, the resilience, the craftsmanship + the beauty they bring to this process is the heartbeat behind all we do.

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What about your brand makes you unique?

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I believe that everyone has something unique to offer. My sister left this quote (by dr Seuss) stuck to my door when I was going through a challenging time a couple of years ago: Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. We simply do what we have set out to do, to the best of our ability, with all our hearts + unwavering faith, but on our own terms. We are not competing with a world that promotes bigger, better, faster. We are simply living our dream + it has proved to be exquisite thus far.

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Who is your Uzuri girl? Who loves your products?

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A lady who carries within her a continent of dreams and hopes and ideals. Dreamers + do-ers, mothers + daughters + sisters and lovers and everyone who believes in this country, in its people and its diversity. Conscious buyers who care about the hands who cradled the products they choose to wear. Women of substance, women with vision + who’s hearts are filled with bravery + boldness. We were raised by strong mothers, we are surrounded by legendary sisters & friends – we want to clothe all of them.

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Uzuri is your sideline business. How do you manage to run a business while having a full-time job, and maintain a work-life balance?

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Sometimes there is no work-life balance. Sometimes our husbands pack orders + tag products + do the washing. Uzuri would not have been possible without them. They are legendary men with two kickass jobs of their own, but they have not once come home too tired to do what needs to be done in order for us to pursue this dream.

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From the onset, there has been one non-negotiable rules: Uzuri is never to be prioritised over our husbands/families or our friendship. This means (sometimes) pulling in the reins when the world screams bigger and better and faster, but Uzuri is ours + we are proud of the holistic way in which it has bloomed.

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What are the 3 greatest attributes that you need to be a happy and successful creative entrepreneur?1. There should be a purpose behind your brand. For Uzuri, it is the jobs we create, the incredible people we get to share this journey with.2. Do not compare yourself. You are not in a race. You are writing your own life story.3. As clichéd as it might sound: surround yourself with good people. Brave + sincere visionaries who are true to themselves.

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What has been your greatest struggle in your business so far?

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The precarious act of balancing our lives + our dreams. Something always has to give – and slowing down, only pursuing the dreams that stir our hearts, and learning when to say no, has proved to be the steepest learning curve.

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Do you have any advice for people out there that would like to launch their own creative business?

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Life is short & your story is your own to write. Do what makes your soul sing. We are not pro’s + we do not have all the answers. We are simply following our hearts one step at a time and thus far it has proved to be an incredible adventure.

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TFF: How to stay on schedule + free 2018 planner

January is that time of the year when everyone is filled with optimism and new energy, and it’s also the perfect opportunity to get organised! In 2017 I spent a lot of time refining my processes and studio workflow, and there’s a few things that really helped me to pace my clients and myself along the journey. If staying on schedule is your kryptonite (like the rest of us), then these are my top tips for getting stuff done in 2018, on time.

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1. Contracts and boundaries

If you still don’t have a proper contract, then don’t delay any further! Dedicate a full day to thinking and researching every single thing that you would like to communicate to your clients before a project starts. Also think about how you would like to handle communication with your clients, to make sure that you keep your work and personal time separate. Set the rules that you need in order to run an organised business.

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2. Set realistic deadlines and block out a certain amount of time per project

Pre-booking and scheduling projects ahead of time really changed my business. Many designers, especially those that are just starting out, feel like they need to work on 10 projects at the same time to keep everyone happy and pay the bills. This is simply NOT sustainable, and you WILL burn out and drop the ball at some point. Set your prices according to how much time you intend to spend on something, and stick to it. Work and charge like a professional, so people won’t take advantage of your time. Make it clear to yourself and your clients that a project has a specific end date, and that certain phases has to be completed by specific dates. This makes you look and feel like you’re in control, and will also motivate and excite your clients to play their part.

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3. Routine and Rest

I found that introducing a new routine into my week really helped me to find structure and I could get a lot more done on a weekly basis. To rest is just as important as work, and I learned that the hard way. I find that my creativity fades and my mood darkens when I don’t take the time for self-nurture and rest. So, make rest a resolution in 2018, and prioritise the time you take to recharge and get inspired.

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I’ve designed this nifty 2018 weekly planner to help you out!

This is exactly the tool that I use myself to get organised. I always start by blocking out time for myself first, like yoga and a proper lunch break. I then move on to slotting my daily admin or marketing responsibilities in, followed by client time.

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Hope this helps! Let me know how you go 🙂

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WEEKLY PLANNER

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2018: A year for rest + free any-year calendar

Happy 2018 friends, and welcome back to the hustle! I took the longest break of my career last year during a 3 month travelling adventure. Closing my business for that long seemed impossible at first, but somehow it actually worked out. It was an incredibly transformative time for me where I came to a very important realisation.

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To be productive, is not the only objective in life!

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Before and even during my big break, I felt super guilty about not working. I felt bad about not creating, almost like I was falling behind somehow. It was only after I came back, that I understood the true value of breaking away like that, and I realised that I’ve actually been taking big steps forward while I thought I was standing still.

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To rest is not the destination. To rest is part of the journey.

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We live in a world where everything is about MORE. More work, more money, more stuff, and we obviously want all of that to make us more happy. We’re taught that “hard work” is the path to more, and that nothing else will get us there. But that’s not true.

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Balance.

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The biggest truth that I found during my travels is that rest, self-nurture and disconnection from the digital world is the cure to so many ailments in our society. Rest for your mind, body and soul will fill you with energy and positivity, and essentially make your MORE productive when you need it.

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Let’s make 2018 a year for rest.

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I’ve designed this freebie any-year calendar just for you, as a way to set monthly goals for rest. Don’t make it too big (and possibly unattainable), but actually pay attention to setting intention for small things that will help you to rest.

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Make rest your #1 goal for 2018 and see what happens. I have a feeling that you’ll be just a surprised as I was. Pulling back, will push you forward.

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Simply download and print this A3 calendar on any thick paper stock that you like. Most good printers will also give your the option for ring-binding on the top. Enjoy, but remember, only for personal use guys! 🙂

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I’ve been keeping a secret…

At the beginning of the year I wrote a blog post about change. I knew that 2017 was going to be a year of uncertainty, transition and letting go, and even though it scared me I also knew that it was necessary. My roots got unsettled and it’s been a year filled with confusion, but today I can finally say that the direction is set and the journey forward is clear.

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So, let me start at the beginning. All through our 20’s Johan and I have dreamed of living and working abroad, and so, at the start of 2017 we decided that we were going to make that dream happen. This decision propelled a series of changes that sent us into limbo.

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Change # 1: I left the wedding industry

What started out as a casual wedding stationery studio 4 years ago, has evolved into a respected name for branding and teaching creative entrepreneurs. Wedding stationery didn’t fit into the mix anymore, and felt completely out of place in a studio that was all about building successful small businesses. On the other hand, wedding stationery was tying me to producers, printers and clients in a specific location. I could no longer accept wedding work if I didn’t know if I would be available to see it through. So out the window wedding stationery went, and in came a fresh new strategy for making White Kite a booming branding hub!

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Change # 2: I started a side-career

Moving a business to a new location meant that I was going to take a financial knock at some stage, and I realised that I needed to diversify my skills. Also, I’m a firm believer in “do more of makes you happy”, and yoga makes me REALLY happy. It gave me balance and joy, and I wanted to share that and make it a bigger part of my life. So, in April I did my first teachers training course, and I’ve been a side-hustling yoga teacher ever-since. This decision has given me the opportunity to explore a new talent, but also to experiment with a new sort of mobile business.

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Change # 3: I took 3 months off

It was about more than just going on an epic 3 month adventure (you can read all about that here). Finding work and moving overseas was proving to be harder than we thought. Initially we believed that it would be quick to find a great job for Johan in the right location, but that didn’t happen. After about 6 months of relentless looking and hoping, we kind of hit a wall. We were so tired of keeping secrets and I was stressed out because I’d already cut out 50% of my business and income, without any indication of when the big move would happen… Change and uncertainty was starting to take it’s toll on us, so we left on a 3 month sabbatical to figure out what we wanted from life, but also to go and search for an opportunity in person…

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Change # 4: I became a vegan

A rather unexpected thing to come from our travels was that I could no longer bring myself to buy, consume or support animal products. I won’t dwell on this for too long, but during our 3 months away my heart and eyes opened wide, and I realised that each one of us need to take responsibility for the kind of world that we want to live in. A big lifestyle change like this obviously comes with challenges, but it’s actually been one of the things that’s brought me the most peace and contentment.

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Change # 5: I’m moving to Sydney

And there you have it. After a full year, we really did make it happen. I can officially announce that WKS will be based in Sydney from February 2018! I actually had my eyes set on Sydney right from the start… I love the weather, it’s beautiful and the creative industry in Australia will most certainly keep me on my toes! South Africa will forever be where I’m from, but to be honest, I never felt like SA’s the only place on earth where we could be at home or happy.  For now, I’m just going with the flow, happy for a dream that came true, and excited for the new challenges and adventures that lie ahead. I trust the timing of our lives, and I know that we will be taken care of in this new chapter.

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So what now?

The great thing about 12 months is that it really gave me the opportunity to prepare and work through all the emotions. WKS is now a full service branding studio that offers everything from strategy, design, content creation, copy writing and websites. I’ve also devised 8 new online courses for 2018 and I’ll be producing an exciting new stationery range for the online store. Our online store goodies will still be available in South Africa, since I’ll be setting up a little team to run things for me over here. I also still have the opportunity to work with my South African clients in exactly the same way as before,  no matter where I find myself in the world (thanks Internet). The only thing that changes is that I now have a more holistic service to offer and better systems to make the process even smoother.

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And that’s it my friends. C-H-A-N-G-E. The growth we get from it, makes all the pain worth it. I look forward to sharing my new life and adventure with all of you over on Instagram and Facebook, and all of the wonderful new clients and projects that await. Please reach out to me if you have any questions, or if you’d like to take advantage of my new services. I’m now booking projects from March 2018. 🙂

C+E: How to write a killer about section for your website

Here at White Kite I work with a few talented freelance copywriters, and together we strive to create brand voices that are just as beautiful as the visual branding! Copywriting is often a very neglected part of the branding process for small businesses, but I never skip on introducing my clients to the power of a well-written, brand-conscious piece of text. One of the most important ‘pieces of text’ is probably the one where you introduce your brand to the world, aka the about section on your website! I’ve asked one of my talented writing colleagues, Roeleen from Simply Written, to give us some of her best advice on writing a killer about section for your website!

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Why is a well-written ‘about’ section important for your website and business?

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One of my favourite things to do, whenever I come across a new brand on social media, is to hop on over to their website and hit the “ABOUT ” page. There’s days where I get lost in the story, almost feeling as if I knew this person forever and it makes me love their brand all the more. But, sadly, there are also days that leaves me grimacing at my screen, shaking my head and finally, closing the tab.

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Your about page, as small and insignificant as it may seem, is just as crucial as those beautiful reviews you have sliding on your website or the shiny portfolio that you’ve put together. It reflects the mastermind behind the brand, draws your reader in, builds trust and invites them to browse through the rest of your website. Your about section will contribute greatly to the opinion that your ideal client will form about your business.

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So, do you have a recipe to writing a beautiful, personality-filled about section?

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Yes! Putting pen to paper and talking about yourself is never easy, but I’ve formulated a simple A, B, C, D list that can be used to guide you throught he process of writing a killer about section for your own website.

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1. A is for ‘Attention’

This one is easy, and I’m sure you saw it coming: attract attention! There are so many ways in which it can be executed: humour, a quote, an image, an interesting opening line. Make sure you grab your reader’s attention with one element that will encourage them to read on. Ultimately, you want your about section to be the hook that will urge your reader to browse the rest of the website!

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2. B is for ‘Be you’

This is the foundation on which you should start your writing! Start by writing down a few important points of interest that you would like to include in your about section, and then elaborate on each as you would in person. Imagine having your best friend over for coffee. How would you address her, which words would you use? Once you’ve elaborated on each point, move on to constructing sentences that flow and ultimately put a beautiful, eloquent story together.

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3. C is for ‘Concise’

Keep it short, sweet and simple. It shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes (or less!) to read through your about page. After that, it’s likely that you will repeat yourself, list unnecessary details or worse: lose your reader’s interest! Knowing your audiences will play a key role in this step of the process. Know the things they’d be interested in and include some of it in your piece.

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Here’s a small checklist of things you could include:

– Something about yourself
– Something that inspires you
– Some experience in your profession

– Something humorous (if it fits with your brand personality)
– Something that makes you vulnerable (be careful not to put yourself on a pedestal)

– Some info about the service or product you offer
– Something that your ideal client would value

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4. D is for ‘Dive a little deeper’

This might come as a surprise, but your about page is actually about your client! And before you get confused, let me explain. Sure, on the surface your about page tells your story, but dive a little deeper, and you’ll come to understand that your about page (should) provide the answer to a question that your client has. It should reveal a confidence that you can solve their problem and offer them the product or service they need. Once you’ve taken that into account, you’ll address their need directly, hold their attention and conclusively win them over!

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Brand Crush Collab: Lulu & Marula

My journey with Lulu and Marula started back in 2013, when Jesse and I were working together in the Advertising Industry. Jess brought her beautiful hand-made beauty products into the office for everyone to try, and the overwhelming response was that she absolutely needed to start selling them! Lulu and Marula became WKS’s very first client, and we’ve been refining and adding to the brand over the last 4 years. I’m extremely proud to be associated with this brand, and it’s not just because I think we did a pretty good job with the branding 😉 I’ve been using only the L&M face range since 2014, and there really isn’t anything else like it. It’s vegetarian, cruelty free, chemical free, smells HEAVENLY, and feels gentle and balanced on the skin. What more could a girl want?! I can’t go a day without the Balancing Cleansing Balm, and the Soothing Hand and Foot Cream is a treat ritual every night before bed.

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To celebrate the recently reformulated products, and shiny new foiled packaging to boot, I’ve done a little interview with Jesse to to introduce all of you to my original brand crush! Also, thanks so much to our friend Migneon from Pritti for the pretty snaps!

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What is the inspiration behind your brand and products? 

I’m inspired by nature and the place that I live, being surrounded by mountains and sea is great for the soul! Our customers are a huge motivator, their feedback is everything to us and we take it very seriously. We want to make our products the best they can be, and provide the ultimate skin care experience for our customers. We try not to be influenced by what is trendy at the moment or what everyone else is doing. We do our best to stay authentic to the brand experience we’ve created, which is a fun brand that is serious about your skin. 

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L&M has recently reformulated their products, tell us a bit about that. 

We’re always trying to do better. There are a whole host of amazing, natural ingredients out there that can do so much for your skin, and natural ingredient alternatives are always improving. We decided to collect all the feedback we’ve gotten from our customers over the years, look at the incredible ingredients that are now available for natural skin care, and tweak our formulations to create an even better collection of products, without losing who we are as a brand. We also hired a young, passionate cosmetic chemist at the start of the year, so it’s been a 12 month journey of creation and perfection.

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What makes your brand special/unique?

Every single ingredient used in our products has a specific benefit for your skin. With many traditional skin care products, you find that the majority of ingredients in them have the sole purpose of stabilising, preserving, or giving the product a certain texture or smell, without adding any benefit to your skin. We also own the majority of our manufacturing chain, which means we have total control of the quality and output of our product. We formulate, produce and package everything ourselves. 

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Who is your Lulu and Marula client? Who loves your products?

We love that we have a diverse customer group. We connect with the young, modern woman who is switching to a proper skin care routine for the first time, as well as the mature woman who wants to eliminate toxic ingredients from their regime. The Lulu & Marula woman leads a conscious lifestyle, she is selective about the goods she purchases, preferring to support local, cruelty-free brands that have an ethical story behind them. 

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What aspect of your branding do you love the most?

I love that it connects with so many different types of people. It doesn’t look down on people or confuse people like a lot of skin care brands sometimes do. It’s approachable.

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Why do you feel branding is an investment into the future of your business?

People see your brand first and try your product second. It’s what attracts people, and it gives your brand the value that sets it apart from everyone else. A brand creates a shift from a commodity to an experience, and that’s what people want. 

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Since you are your own boss, do you have any advice for maintaining a work-life balance?

It can be very difficult, and 4 years later I’m only just starting to carve out proper time for myself. From the beginning you need to learn that it’s OK to say no. Not every opportunity is worthwhile, and you will have many opportunities that come your way. Burn out is a real thing, and you don’t want to do that to yourself. Value your time. 

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What are the 3 greatest attributes that you need to be a happy and successful creative entrepreneur?

Support is essential. Whether that comes in the form of friends, a life partner or a business partner. It always helps to have someone to motivate and push you when you’re feeling like what you’re doing isn’t worthwhile. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, so tap into any network you can to share some of that burden. You need drive to get through the hard times, because there will be hard times. And let some control go where you can. You don’t need to do everything yourself.

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What has been your greatest struggle in your business so far?

Finding suppliers and distributors has been a struggle. The South African cosmetics packaging industry is so limited that you’re often stuck with such little choice, and everyone ends up using the same packaging because there aren’t many alternatives. Minimum order quantities can also be a struggle when it comes to ingredients and packaging when we are still a small business.

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Do you have any advice for people out there that would like to launch their own creative business.

Just get started. If you overthink, you get caught up in the details and it’s easy to give up. You need to start somewhere and give yourself a benchmark that you can work to improve on later. 

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TFF: Prepping your client for a successful working relationship

I get a lot of questions from my design community on how to crisis manage a client relationship that has gone sour, and to that I can only say that prevention is better than cure. I’ve been at the freelance game for some time now, and I’ve surely had my share of “difficult clients”, but I’ve also realised that most of those cases resulted from miscommunication and could have been avoided if I had proper systems in place. So, these are my top 5 tips on planting the seeds for successful client relationships, no matter which creative service industry you’re in.

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1. Communication

AKA a clear and friendly contract. I remember my “T&Cs” as a short little paragraph at the bottom of my quote back in 2014, and it’s probably the reason why I ran into trouble a few times. It’s all about setting firm boundaries, and laying out solutions and responsibility for every possible point of conflict. How would you like your clients to communicate with you (I would recommend always sticking to written communication, so you can refer back to it later)? Where are potential hidden costs? How will you handle delayed feedback? Don’t let there be any surprises, and communicate every important thing to your client before your do anything else. Nobody likes to read lengthy and boring contracts, so make it beautiful through clever design and easy to understand through simple language.

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2. Timelines

Always give your client a detailed project timeline, outlining your process and the different steps that you follow. I worked without set timelines for the first two years, and that was a massive mistake. It’s literally like leaving the backdoor open, and projects can go on forever! It’s essential for your studio’s success to have a consistent flow of projects, and old projects need to be wrapped up in time for new ones to come in. Without this crucial step your clients will take advantage of your availability, and feedback and reverts will get delayed by weeks and months, leaving both parties unhappy. You’ll also end up running 20 projects at the same time, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, distracted and unable to give each client your best. So, figure out beforehand how many projects you can handle in a set amount of time, and set your prices accordingly. For instance, I pre-book 3-4 projects for every 3 months, and run those projects on the same timeline. It helps me to plan financially and give each of my clients enough of my time to do my best work. If your client doesn’t adhere to your timeline, then you’ll always have a contract to fall back on.

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3. Add value

Everybody wants to feel welcome and appreciated, so treat you clients to something special before your kick off your project! It’s basically about leaving a positive impression on your client’s memory, before you start working together. Send them a friendly welcome gift in the post or a simple PDF with nuggets of info and tips about your process. You always want to let your clients feel like they are getting a little more than they paid for, and this will certainly set you off on the right foot. This is also a great opportunity to educate your client on certain things, so don’t see it as an emotional bribe.

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4. Speak face-to-face

I work with clients from all over the world, and I hardly every get to meet any of them in person. That said, I believe it’s super important to at least speak to them once on Skype or FaceTime. Setting up a little digital meet-up will give you a better idea of the type of personality that you’re working with, and it will also give your client the opportunity to see a more human side of you. If you feel like things are going south, set up another Skype call to chat through the problem. It’s a lot harder to misunderstand someone when you’re talking face-to-face, and there’s no chance that an email could be read in the wrong tone of voice. If you make any choices based off a Skype call, always put that information in writing so you can refer back to it.

5. Pre-project homework

This is the last step I follow with my clients before we begin on a project. I let each of my clients write their own comprehensive brief (based off a template I give them), plus, I give them a Pinterest mood board assignment. Very often clients are not sure of what they want, until they need to do some research or write things down themselves. This will make it easier for you to figure out what they are looking for, and you’ll have less of a chance to miss the mark in a concept presentation. Another bonus is that you can always refer back to the brief that your client wrote, incase they feel like you’re not hitting the mark.

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And there you have it, 5 pointers to help you prep your clients for a successful working relationship. Please let me know if you found this helpful, or if there is anything that you can add from your own experience. It’s really just about removing the obstacles so your projects can run smoothly and without any misunderstandings.

 

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Brand Crush Collab: Katy Vallentine Collection

I did this shoot with collaborators Emmajanenation, Katy Valentine and Rosa Karoo about a year ago, but never got the chance to properly hero some of these pretty shots. Today I’d like to introduce you to jewellery brand Katy Valentine Collection. I loved wearing her pieces, especially the round necklace, and that’s why we’re doing a little giveaway on Friday! Keep an eye on my Instagram account for more details. Below is an interview I did with Katy, to find out more about her brand, design and business journey.

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Tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind your brand and jewellery.

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I grew up in a home surrounded by organic design, with both parents being artefact traders, collectors and avid adventures. This is where my passion for creative design stemmed from.

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What made your decide to start this business?

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During an adventurous trip though India,  I found myself drawn to the incredible craftsmanship of the local jewellers. The combination of my African heritage and my love for travel has merged to create “Katy Valentine Collection”. I started my business two and a half years ago, when I realised there was a gap in the market for reasonably priced, simplistic, modern and easy to wear African / Oriental inspired jewellery. I first began by creating a few unique pieces for myself, and after arriving back in South Africa from India, I sort of just kept going. The business evolved very organically from that trip.

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Who is your Katy Valentine girl? Who loves your pieces?

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The ultimate Katy Valentine girl is exited by rare finds, she’s free spirited a bit boho and isn’t afraid to express herself.

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What is your favourite thing about your job?

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I do what I love, which includes design, travel, exploring and having the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.

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What are the 3 greatest attributes that you need to be a happy and successful freelance designer?

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Creativity, patience and honesty.

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What has been your greatest struggle as a freelancer so far?

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Working alone comes with real challenges. It can get lonely if there isn’t someone to share and bounce ideas with. Sometimes it takes a lot of discipline and self-motivation to get the boring day-to-day things done. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of family and friends, but ultimately, getting things done and making my business a success is up to me.

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It can also be difficult coming up with new ideas for my brand. It’s important to stay fresh and exciting as a brand, so I’m constantly on the lookout for new designs in everything around me.

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Do you have any advice for people out there that would like to launch their own creative business.

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The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s so important to run your business properly from the start. I have not been so good at running the accounts side of things and now that I have everything in order it relieves a lot pressure. So find a good accountant and be on top of the processes and details of your business right from the start.

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C+E: Ditching the trend – An opinion about minimalism

So after last week’s big bombshell confession, I guess that this is another one, and things are about to get controversial! Before leaving on our sabbatical, I found myself in a bit of a schizophrenic frenzy. I recently left the wedding stationery part of my business behind, and after 3 years of the same look a rebrand was obvious. However, I was stuck and running around in circles while trying to settle on something that FELT right.

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Any designer that’s ever tried to rebrand his or her own business will know that it’s super difficult, but this time it felt impossible! I set out a time to work on my new design, and got as far as new colours, new fonts and a basic style sheet, but for some reason I was just not bringing it home. I thought it was beautiful, but I really struggled to connect with it. I blamed it on being tired and needing a break, but boy was I wrong…

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Now while I was travelling the world I obviously kept thinking about it, and after much introspection the answer just kind of hit me in the face one day. I suddenly realised why my ‘new look’ felt so shallow. I was over-influenced! I was trying to follow a trend and fit in. I was trying to be something that just didn’t come naturally to me, and in the long run it would have been soul-destroying to try and fake it.

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Now, before I go too far, please forgive me in advance if someone is about to be really offended…

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I was trying to be a minimalist. Or rather, I was trying to be another minimalist. Or even more, I was trying to be another minimalist that looked and sounded exactly like the next one. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, I buy it, and I really truly try to live it, but I still had to realise that minimalism as a philosophy didn’t always translate into neutrals, artistic shadows and using the word ‘authentic’ more than is necessary!

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Now in order to bring that statement down to earth after I so boldly put it out there, let’s talk about minimalism. It’s intensely trendy, and people are throwing it around like sweet beige coloured confetti. But what does it really mean?! I read this, and it made sense:

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Minimalism:

Don’t do anything;

Don’t own anything;

Don’t be anywhere or around anyone;

That you do not love.

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And that’s it! If it’s not necessary or if it doesn’t make you feel good, then get rid of it. It’s a lifestyle and an attitude, rather than just a specific aesthetic style or tone of voice. Right? So, am I a minimalist? Yes, I guess I am. I recently gave away literally 50% of everything that I own. I became a vegan, because I didn’t feel like animal products made me feel good or was necessary for optimal well-being. I prefer to buy simple, classic and good quality clothing that will last me a few years. BUT. I also like colour. I like busy patterns from time to time. And I don’t believe that beauty, interest and value can only exist in perfectly sterile places.

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Life needs more than what people perceive as minimalism. Because that’s the thing about perceived minimalism, there really isn’t much to it.

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Without more visual interpretations of this philosophy, we all run the risk of becoming indistinguishable. It’s the same fonts, it’s the same colours, it’s the same art direction in every image, and it’s impossible to tell one business’s character apart from the other. Everything starts to feel repeated and like a big old snooze-fest!

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I loved looking at these profiles on Instagram, thinking about how beautiful and perfect it all looked. I wanted to create something just like it, so people would look at my business and say the same things. But, after my trip I realised that it’s more important to stay true to yourself and the things that come naturally. Trends will come and go, and people will run after it like sheep, but sometimes you need to be the sneaky breakaway that the dogs come after. Be a rebel, because that’s when you get noticed!

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So, I know that some people will have big opinions about this, and I would truly love to hear about it and engage. I obviously also know that there’s more than one trend out there, and with my new branding launching at the end of November I can’t say that I wasn’t subjected to ‘inspiration’ (just like everybody else). So let’s chat about this, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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TFF: When you’ve fallen out of love with your business

So it finally happened to me, even when I never thought it could. 4 Years ago I set myself out on a journey of big dreams and expectation. Needless to say, I operated on a completely different level! I was hungry for success and the idea of ‘being famous’ (eye-roll). It was a one-woman show until year 3 when I hired Fiona, and we hustled our way into 2017 with all engines going at 150%. I had clients waiting out the door, a booming online shop, a new e-course on the cards after 3 fully booked workshops and things were up-up-up! I couldn’t possibly be happier with the marvellous machine that was WKS, but then…. (enter screeching brakes). I totally and completely lost my grip.

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Burnout is a b*tch. She confused the hell out of me and made me question the entire vessel that is my livelihood. One of the things that was most precious to me, my business, became almost worthless in a matter of months. I just felt completely disconnected with what I had build, and the reasons why I was still going.

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So let me just be honest with you. At that point I was only in it for the money. I’d lost touch with the people that were my loyal and enthusiastic fans. I stopped giving, and truly believed that I didn’t have anything worthy of giving. I stopped innovating. I couldn’t understand my place anymore in the big bad freelance designer world, and I simply didn’t want to deal with people anymore. I didn’t want to deal with the Internet anymore. I didn’t want to put myself out there and create anymore. I fell out of love with my business, and I had no idea how to reignite the spark. It was a restless, apathetic and dry feeling, and all I wanted was to run away from it all and give up.

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So guess what happened next? I did.

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I packed my bags, took all the money I’d saved and left for 3 months. It all happened rather quickly and spontaneously, and before I knew it I was floating on the Mediterranean sea, looking up at the sky and slowly-slowly I started to sink back into the world and what really mattered.

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Now if you’re wondering how I ended up back here without giving myself up to becoming a hippie selling matcha ice-creams on a beach of Vietnam, then read on…

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It all started with a change of scenery

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We can get really stuck in one place if we always stay in one place, and changing the scenery was really the first cleansing thing to happen. I got out of the mental confinements of South Africa and the many negative things that surround us every day. I had some time again to immerse myself in the things that make our world interesting and beautiful, instead of just heart breaking. The best thing about our travels is that it forced me to open up my mind and heart again. I realised that our problems are so trivial, and that our level of happiness could expand far wider and deeper than anything that we are used to. I was shaken, and I started to wake up.

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I stopped looking at what everybody else was doing

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Seriously, the internet can be such a downer. While we were travelling through Italy, I was still pretty much glued to my phone, posting Insta stories of our trip, and scrolling my feed regularly. But with all other distractions gone, I quickly realized that the moment I dove into my phone, was also the moment when my mood changed. I could go from full and happy, to empty and irritated in seconds. Firstly, it made me feel bad to see how I’ve neglected my business image over the last months, and secondly I was constantly feeling shitty about how not-neglected everyone else’s business image was.

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I first went on a random unfollow spree, and then I banned myself from all social media for the whole month that we were in Vietnam. It worked wonders! Being unconnected was quite possibly the most connected that I’ve felt in a long time!

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The moment I stopped leaking my energy into the wormhole that is social media, was also the moment I started to feel good about things again. I started to fill up with motivation and inspiration, and I realised once and for all that I didn’t need to be like everybody else in order to be liked or respected (check out next week’s blog post for more on this…).

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Do one thing at a time, and finish it

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And this is the number one realisation I’ve had in 3 months. By July I was trying to juggle 3 different businesses at once, and one person alone simply couldn’t handle it all. I fell out of love by trying to divide my affections and attention between three things, and everything was left feeling lukewarm. I can still have it all, but not right now, and I need to give myself a little more time to figure it all out.

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And there you have it. My rise from the slump! I can honestly admit that I’m in love again, and I’m deeply sorry to those of you that I’ve left disappointed or neglected along the way. My trusted industry friends, my loyal followers and fans, my precious clients, I have missed you. I’m so happy to be back in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel, and eternally grateful for an incredibly privileged experience. And if you’re feeling like you’ve fallen out of love with your business too, then perhaps it’s time to take a massive step back. Leave, ignore it, ignore everybody else and take the time to investigate your true feelings. In my case, absence really did make the heart grow fonder.