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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. Not because I’m nay-saying our beautiful country (eye-roll, yes we chose Australia) or want to talk about all the rubbish that we have to deal with (let’s just be real folks), but simply because I consider myself a citizen of the world. Heck, we might move again in 3 years from now, I don’t know what the future holds. 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. 🙂

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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.

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2017 – A year of lightness

So it’s the end of January already and I won’t lie to you, 2017 started off a little heavy. I came back from a blissful 3 week holiday and digital detox, but fell straight into a whirlpool of anxiety the moment I got back. 2017 is scaring the hell out of me right now, and here’s the reason why … change.

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This year is going to be a year full of big changes for both my business and myself. I can’t tell you too much about it just yet, but I can tell you that it’s making me feel pretty emotional. It’s like a ball of uncertainty, dipped in excitement then deep-fried in a boiling hot caldron of fear (and no, I’m not pregnant)!

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I always love to write a new year’s resolutions post to keep myself accountable, so this is me trying to figure out how to get back to my happy new year place and ditch this feeling of heaviness for something a little more comfortable. A strategy for lightness, 1,2,3.

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Strategy for lightness 1: Free my mind of worry, live in the moment

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Our minds are like monkeys. Our bodies can be present, but our minds are always jumping between the past and the future. Negative feelings from the past or our worries about the future can truly ruin the present moment, and what else do we really have than right now? The current breathe in our lungs?

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To keep my mind light, I’ve decided to live a more present life. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or freaked out at what the future might bring, I can ground myself back to the gifts of the present moment. Essentially it’s about being more grateful for the small things, and consciously acknowledging what it’s like to be human and alive.

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Strategy for lightness 2: Free my heart of all that is not love, live with gentleness

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This is actually something that I’ve been practicing for a year now, and it’s golden! However, I feel like I need a little reminder at the moment so here it goes. (I’m a yogi, so if you’re wondering where all the squishy stuff is coming from, it’s off my mat).

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Anzel (you can enter your own name here), speak to yourself like somebody that you love. Give yourself a break. Accept that all can not be perfect all the time. Know that you can’t have it all and have in now. Have compassion and forgive yourself for your shortcomings. It’s amazing what happens once you let go.

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There, I’m done. 🙂

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Strategy for lightness 3: Free my life of clutter, live with simplicity

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I’ve decided that 2017 will be the year to have less and do more. I’m trimming down the business, cleaning out the house, travelling a LOT, and basically getting rid of everything that complicates live.

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Change is uncomfortable, and scary, but at the same time it’s the thing that moves us forward, out of our comfort zones and into the new. I’ve decided to give this ‘new’ a good chance, and indulge in every experience without expecting too much in return. Lightness. To move like a feather in the wind.

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And on that note, feel free to leave your words of wisdom below. I actually sort of need all the advice and encouragement that I can get… I wish you a wonderful new year, and I hope that you can join me on a journey of lightness and hop on outta here with a spring in your step and massive smile on your face!

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tjing tjing!

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The 6th Pink Party felt like coming home!

One year, six workshops, and I couldn’t have asked for a better showstopper than this. The last 13 months has been an incredible adventure, with 108 (yes) women joining me for this special experience. I’m finished, empty and I’ve given it my all, but my heart is full in knowing that all of these women left with something valuable. I made new friends, connected creatives, and truly feel like this has become a community of professional women that are going places!

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Three of these six workshops were held over the last two months, and to be honest, it was exhausting. I traveled to Durban, then Gauteng, and ended it off here in the Western Cape last week. For this last workshop I was very honoured to have been invited by a brand spanking new workshops venue in Stellenbosch to host their maiden event. The Styling Shed is PERFECT, and a super stylish space for creative workshops or small events. The physical space is beautifully decorated, spacious and clean, and there’s also only positive things to say about their service. Please do check them out if you have ideas for a workshop of your own, or if you’re just interested in creative workshops in general.

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Women traveled from far and wide (Namibia and Kathu included) to attend this last workshop, and of all the groups I’ve ever had these girls just immediately fell in love with each other. The tight and positive group energy was something that everybody commented about afterwards. I was also spoiled with beautiful gifts from Carien, Anica and Suzanne and just wanted to say thank you again 😉 I feel so humbled to know that you felt touched by the experience. We also celebrated two birthdays on the same day during the workshop, and were treated to some surprise cupcakes by our LOVELY caterer and friend The Food Fox.

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Taking about the catering, I really just need to make a special mention here, because Ilse is seriously just one of the most incredible women. THANK YOU Ilse for consistently giving this workshop your best. People were ecstatic about the food once again, and I could not have asked for better. Also, thanks so much to Leipzig Floral Design for their beautiful creations, and to Jesse from Lulu and Marula for being our guest speaker on copywriting. Also, thanks so much to the goodie bag sponsors (Zana, Maria Magdalena Atelier and Prestwich Collection) for all the treats, I loved collaborating with you and my guests felt so spoilt! Then lastly, to my trusted assistant and design partner Fiona, you are a talented young lady and I’m so incredibly grateful for all the support you’ve given me over the last months. She’s also the one responsible for these lovely pictures, so give her a shout if you ever need a photographer or assistant.

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Then, for all of you that wanted to attend but could not make it for these last three, I have some pretty special news. The Pink Party course will be going digital in 2017!!! Keep you eyes peeled for news on this development in January, however (do not fear) I will still be hosting another Pink Party next year in May. If you’d like to read more about this event, make sure to check out some of my older posts for more photos and videos. Alternatively, sign up to the newsletter in the sidebar and I’ll keep you in the loop!

 

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“The Pink Party experience was was an absolute self-love investment in myself as a business owner and my business. It’s been just a few days since attending The Pink Party and I can already see the creative sparks of doing things a little differently in my business. Anzel’s tools and approach is clearly evident in her work. She walks the talk and has created a meaningful and effective workshop that’s filled with magical “aha” moments and lots of encouragement for things I wasn’t entirely certain about. Everything relating to my business now feels connected and purposeful. The Pink Party is a treasure of practical information to anyone looking to start a new business and for already-established creative entrepreneurs that need a bit of perspective, from the outside in. From one creative to another, I feel empowered and so grateful to you for sharing your talents and vision with me. Thank you Anzel!”

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Tanya Stroh – Turipamwe Design

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“The Pink Party Workshop is probably the only Workshop of it’s kind that provides all the information you need for successful branding and marketing of your business. It’s perfect for both start-ups and businesses that are already established. The Pink Party Workshop helped me to channel millions of ideas into a workable and focused business strategy. It is clear, concise and breaks through the clutter, not to mention the networking possibilities! I would recommend it to any small creative business entrepreneur.”
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Alice Marleen Jacobs – Heartnote

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“The Pink Workshop refreshed, re-focussed & re- energised me, and gave me new ideas, energy and excitement for my Brand. I can really recommend this to anyone who owns a small business – whether your business is young or whether you have been on the block for several years.”

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Elizabeth Winshaw – BonTon Events

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“Attending the Pink Party Workshop enabled me to look at my brand in a completely new and fresh way. I can now clearly see where I want to grow my brand and business and I am ready to simplify and make the right changes to get there.”

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Leentjie Du Preez – Grace Photography

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“After day one of Anzel’s pink party workshop, I woke with what I like to call a brain hangover. To put it plainly, my head was bursting with new information. Day 2 and 3 of this workshop was like someone had refreshed the computer screen of my mind. The info was there, but someone had come and made it sparkly and new. All of sudden I had this new burst of energy to channel into my business. I realised I was going about new ideas the wrong way and why it is important to create a proper plan of action. I learnt about my brand voice, personality, who “she” is, what she likes. I learnt that I have to make her my ideal client’s BFF – so simple and yet so effective! Anzel is a wonderful mentor and she gives all her knowledge freely. I was forced to ask myself some difficult questions and the answers triggered a series of thoughts and sparked new ideas, it was exhilarating.”
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Jenni le Grange – Jenni Elizabeth Photography

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A deeper shade of pink for the second Gauteng workshop

I always say that it’s the people that make each workshop special, and with this Pink Party we really had the most wonderful group of women in the room. A life coach, a ceramic artist, an illustrator, a baker, a designer, a photographer, a dress maker, a lifestyle/food consultant, a parenting blogger, a natural haircare maker and and and…! We had dynamic conversations and it was a total pleasure to make the circle bigger and add 17 more creative entrepreneurs to our alumni group that now stands at 89. Yes, 89 people, with 20 more to come in November when we bring the workshop home to the Western Cape!

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I’m not going to recap again on any of the content or cool stuff that we get up to at the workshops, since I’ve already written quite a lot about it here, here, here and here. You can also check out the workshops link for details, photos and videos or email workshops@whitekitestudio.co.za for more info. For this post, I’d rather like to focus on the things that don’t always meet the eye. What is this workshop really about at it’s heart?

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Well, I got an email this week that I thought needed some discussion. The email was from someone that wanted to book but instead said that she didn’t believe the workshop content held enough value. She felt like she already knew most of what will be discussed, and that she could not justify the price for 3 days of “glitz and glamour” (ouch). I believe she’s a marketing manager for a bigger company and that is perfectly fine – she probably does know a lot more than what we can cover in 3 days. The point however is this. I would hate for people to think that the workshop does not offer much more than a glitzy 3 day experience and pretty pictures that I get to blog afterwards. Yes I focus on the pretty things for this workshop, but it’s more to do with the fact that I want to create a beautiful, inspirational space for women to connect. It’s part of my overall brand experience and what adds value to the workshop. As for the content, here is what I believe everyone should know before they sign up.

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1. We all tend to work more in our business than on our business

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Isn’t that true? It certainly is for me! Every day is a hustle to keep up and we never get enough time to sit, focus and work on our own brand and what we can do better. That is EVERYTHING that this workshop and the content is all about. Getting back in touch with that dream you had in the beginning and putting some love and attention back into your brand to make it work harder for yourself and your ideal clients. The workshop is a solid, clearly thought out structure that helps you to build a strong new foundation for you business. It’s “dedicated time” to say the least, and that is a lot more than most of us are giving to our businesses at the moment.

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2. Don’t take my word for it, speak to my guests

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89 people has given testimony to how much they took from this workshop and that the topics and discussing we had around it was totally worth the experience. Yes, we dress up, eat good food, sip on MCC, decorate the room and it all looks super fabulous, but let me tell you, there is a lot more going on than what meets the eye. We work HARD HARD HARD over those 3 days, and every person that walks out of there always has a whole suitcase full of new energy and ideas to take their business to new heights. Don’t ask me, ask my guests. They are the proof.

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3. It’s about community

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Besides all that amazing content, there’s also the fact that you can sit in a room full of other women that dream exactly like you do. We understand each other, learn from each other, inspire each other and bounce ideas off each other in the most positive of ways. We become friends afterwards and so many awesome collaborations have formed from this workshop. The thing that is rare about this workshop is that we form a supportive community of like-minded professional women that are all making shit happen for themselves. I’m so proud of every brave person that’s attended, and I’m glad to call you my tribe!

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And on that note then, here’s some credits: Like always, thanks so much to my friend and talented florist Judy from The Delicate Nature for helping us to glam it up. Eighty Ate Food Company, your BLEW OUR MINDS with the most creative and delicious pink inspired food ever! And most of all, thanks to Jeanel from Lace on Timber for a beautiful space, all the help in putting things together and for being a really wonderful person to work with on this. This is a beautiful new venue in Pretoria, so do check them out if you’re looking for a place in that area. The service was incredibly! Then last but not least, thanks to the lovely Roeleen from Simply Written who graced us with her presence and knowledge as a guest speaker on copywriting. It was lovely to see her again and observe how her business has flourished since she attended the Pink Party more than a year ago. I could not have done this without all of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Enjoy these snaps by talented Gauteng photographer Migneon Marais from Pritti.

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“This is not merely a ‘workshop’ This is a skill-set. For all business owners, people in this for years and those just starting out, Anzel teaches you how to forge the sharp point of your arrow, how to handle the bow, and how to ensure you hit your mark. Cannot recommend it enough!”

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Mlisska Hubert – Life Coach

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“The Pink Party Workshop was three intense days of good vibes and incredible insights! Anzel gave so fully of her knowledge and herself through very practical ideas and processes to grow a creative business as well as sharing her personal journey and the insights she has learnt along the way. It was such a positive, constructive, productive and powerful few days. I left with some very clear next steps and an excitement to follow through with those ideas.”

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Becky Love – Picnic Ceramics

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“I have been wanting to attend this workshop for basically a year now and have been looking forward to it for a very long time since I booked. I saw it as a reward to myself for making it through my first year of working for myself. I must be honest, as much as I looked forward to this, I did’t want to expect too much as I knew I had to be realistic in what to expect from a workshop. However, looking back, it has been the best thing I could have done for myself and my business. Anzel took me out of my so very loved comfort zone of keeping things and thoughts to myself and got me to speak up. She helped me to figure out my purpose, vision and mission for my business. It was all right there in front of me, I just didn’t ever take the time to think about it and put it into words. This was an incredible experience and it was really magical to be in a room full of dedicated, hard working and passionate women.”

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MATILDA VAN DER WALT – HELLO IT’S MATILDA

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“The Pink Party was everything I expected it to be, and more! We were challenged to answer really tough questions about the brands we are building, and these helped so much in gaining insight into how to build more successful and smart businesses. Anzel is an incredibly savvy business woman who I thoroughly enjoyed learning from. I loved that the workshop allowed me to set aside three full days to work on my business, without the daily interruptions when working in the business. I left feeling inspired, encouraged and empowered!”

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Kim Walsh – Ruby and Swallow

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