Author Archives: Lilly Loompa

The time has come to take control of my money!

So I haven’t posted in a long while! Eish! Between balancing family and business life, I hardly have had time to write! However, it is never too late to start again! 🙂

As of late, I have felt my money affairs spiral out of control. 😬 In between managing multiple budgets (I am sure you know about that), I found it was just not working. Day after day, I felt more and more confused as to the cash in my pocket. Especially as I am also running my business and needing to keep cash money separate from our household money.

In an attempt to take control, I spoke to the person I know manages her money the best…my Mom-in-law. She is a super efficient money manager! I have been observing her for years, and cannot believe I didn’t speak to her sooner! I think people, in general, are just embarrassed to talk about money.

Anyhow, she gave me some great tips! On top of that, I took a few hours out this past week to research an easy budgeting system. Well, I found one that definitely spoke to me. Watch this great video!

This is really a basic but effective system and I felt so inspired by this video, I immediately decided to take action! I NEED A WALLET! 😜

So yesterday I went shopping for one! All the while, being Lilly Loompa, I kept thinking of how I can make one with waste! Hehe! I quickly canned that idea as I hate sewing! Anyway, I didn’t find a wallet big enough to hold the standard size envelope. So in true Lilly Loompa style, I decided to make my own envelopes! 😄

Here follows my picture tutorial:

This is how small my daily bag is!

I just loved the practicality of wearing a smaller bag…it felt easier to keep safe and close to me. I love this bag! Below is the contents of my bag. More cards than anything else! But…they are all debit cards…I am pleased to say not one credit card!

 

I know…time for a bigger bag!

I started looking for on-line templates and then realised my printer was out of order. Thus I measured and cut my own template based on the size of our South African money notes. I didn’t have thick paper, so I used a promotional book about an international school of design I picked up at an expo recently.

Here is a link to an on-line tutorial I found useful.

Fold your envelope and secure the bottom side with double-sided tape. I used magic tape as it is all I had on-hand. The idea is to get started. Do not be fixated on getting it perfect. Use what you have! I made two envelopes to start off. I also kept my original template safe for future use.

 

Then I realised I forgot to make one for my business.

 

Since we still have a few days over for November, I decided to start now. You will see I allocated only a small amount for the week, to start training myself to be disciplined. I am very excited to start this new journey.

Now to go wallet shopping!  😜 Let me know what you think? Is this doable in SA? What do you think is a reasonable grocery budget?

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Lessons from Kilimanjaro

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

— Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond

Establishing a business is really not for the faint-hearted. It requires faith, stamina, and perseverance. In essence…it is more of a mental challenge to overcome than anything else.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a remarkable lady about two years ago, on Women’s day, to be exact. Here is an extract from my Facebook post a few days later.

On Women’s Day, I attended an awesome event in Sandton, Johannesburg. I was shown to my seat at table 6. A part of me wondered who I might be seated next to.
The first lady guest arrived. She sat on my left. We immediately connected and chatted away. Another lady (slightly older than me) came to sit next to me to my right. She introduced herself and we struck up a conversation. A few minutes later, I recognized the next guest. I heard her speak at another event about a month ago, and learned that she had just climbed Kilimanjaro successfully! As she introduced herself, I jokingly called her “the Kilimanjaro lady”! We had a great laugh. Then the lady seated on the right calmly said: “I also did Kilimanjaro…about 15 years ago.” Wow! What a coincidence? That two women who both climbed the highest mountain in Africa would sit next to me?

I was fascinated and bombarded the older lady with all kinds of questions. Her answer, in short, was: “It is definitely more of a mental challenge than it is physical. I didn’t train as hard physically as some of my other team members, and many of them succumbed to the pressure and quit. But I was mentally prepared on so many levels, and that is why I made it!” I was stunned. It dawned on me that as an Entrepreneur, I am climbing my own Kilimanjaro.

So here are the lessons I learned at that table on Tuesday:

1. I am overcoming challenges in my business every day, by using my mental health and well-being. If you have never been an entrepreneur, you would never understand the pain and frustrations we go through. Whether we have chosen to follow this path willingly or not, it requires constant problem-solving skills and a level of presence. I voluntarily choose to get up every morning because I believe in my dream of building a legacy and business that will benefit the greater mankind. That lady chose to tackle Kilimanjaro by putting one foot in front of the other and pushing herself to achieve her dream. I too am choosing to put one foot in front of the other all the way to the summit!

2. Women are the most amazing beings. They birth, they feed, they clothe, they nurture, they cry and weep, but they also laugh and conquer! I am so honoured to be surrounded by so many great women. My Moms, my sisters, my girlfriends and my fellow women entrepreneurs. And at that table, I was surrounded by greatness!

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and motivate you. We women cannot help but build and we choose to build together!” If that was the only reason I had to attend that event…I have learned very valuable lessons. Now I must mention that I have no plans to climb Kilimanjaro anytime soon! But respect to those who have! But I will keep climbing!

Originally published on: http://www.lionessesofafrica.com/blog/lessons-from-kilimanjaro

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Happy anniversary to us!!

Here are some fast facts you may not know about Lilly Loompa:

  • Technically it is 13 years old. I started this creative company in 2004 as a Jewellery Artist

  • Lilly Loompa Eco Products and Furniture was launched exactly one year ago on this day!
  • I made history by launching the very first social media auction of its kind on 12 September 2016. See the video below

 

  • In the last year we have made over 100 products – these differ from exclusive, once-off pieces to smaller items.
  • We have over 20 different products – from tables to lamps, to products made with tuna cans!

  • We have survived an inter-provincial move (Jozi to Cape Town). I bet you want to ask which is better? Uhm…the jury is out on that one!
  • Slowly but surely we have managed to gain 778 social media followers
  • We joined a great on-line shopping platform called Made in Everywhere. Check it out here.

Thank you to all our loyal supporters! ❤

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Confronting the friendly giant called “The Media”

The media sometimes comes across as a scary monster. Being a visual thinker, I always imagined it to be a big creature sitting behind a desk chewing papers. To sum it up in one word…it seemed intimidating. As of late and out of my personal experience as an entrepreneur, I can safely say…the media is and can be a friendly giant. 

The perception exists that the news and media only focus on the bad and scandalous bits of the day, however, they also want to feature good news. If you have a newsworthy article or product, they want to hear from you. Maybe you are not visible enough!

I want to share a few tips from my experience as an entrepreneur approaching the media over the last few years:

1. Make a list of the media platforms you would like to be featured on – tv, print, blogs, newspapers, etc. Study them and see what kind of content they feature.

2. Do an e-introduction. Start by sending a short email, introducing yourself and your business. Follow this up with a telephone call. Find an angle to introduce your product or service to them. Maybe quote an excerpt from an article and use that as an entry point to the discussion.

3. Cultivate the relationship. Be honest and friendly. Do not exploit their position by submitting content that is offensive or of no value. Always submit content that would add value to their subscribers and readers.

4. Ask what they want and need. The media industry work according to planned schedules and you can use this to your advantage. They have themes for each print and if they are willing, ask them for a list of their themes for the year so you can be better prepared when launching a new product.

5. Supply them with high res images of your product and good copy. Would you believe me if I told you the pic below was taken on my bed with a smart phone? With a little light and imagination (and some editing), I managed to take a product picture that I could send to a magazine and they featured it! If you can, pay a photographer to take good quality pictures. Good pictures will assist you in getting new customers and following!

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6. It helps when your product has a great back story i.e. of creating employment, rags-to-riches, etc. As a Social Entrepreneur, the story of my life and business is all about restoring both products and people. So, tell your story and how you are impacting the world in a positive way. People want to know the person behind the product.

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7. Focus on the human element. If your business has a strong social message, proclaim it! Use your voice to raise relevant issues of the day. For example, I have decided to use my designs and products to raise awareness regarding my opinions. Instead of venting about it on social media, I now let my products talk for me, in a more constructive manner.

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8. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again. Listen to their advice and criticism. Ask them to give you advice on how to improve your submission for the next time.

9. Be visible on social media. Much of my media coverage has come because I am consistently visible on social media, my blog, and other on-line platforms. Possible investors and journalists are always on the look-out for potential and if you’re active on the web…they will find you! Be sure to have a consistent message throughout. Also, consider what you say! It can either benefit you or be to your detriment!

As business owners, we wear many hats, and whether we like it or not, being our own public relations people is one of them. Building healthy relationships with editors of newspapers and magazines is crucial, especially more so when you have a physical product to present to the market. The same applies for on-line news platforms and radio. 

Get over your fear, and start by contacting them today!

First appeared on Lionesses Of Africa

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Our lamp featured in SA Home Owner

I am always super excited when my work gets noticed by the media! Especially more so when my design inspiration is considered a touchy subject!

Here is the printed text:

“Inspired by her return to the Western Cape, Lizl Naude’s slave bell desk lamp re-purposes discarded wood and tin cans to create a beautiful, functional homage to those who built this land from the ground up.”

 

I posted about the Slave Bell Lamp a few months ago. Read about it here.

#grateful #rememberingslavery ❤

 

 

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Trash does not have to look ugly!

Deciding to live green does not mean you have to compromise on design. In actual fact, recycling discarded goods, gives you the ability to revamp and possibly improve on an existing design, without spending a fortune.

Recycling is the act of processing used or abandoned materials for use in creating new products.  As a creative I find it really exciting to find a furniture piece or a discarded item on the side of the road. When I do, I try and push myself to find a unique new design, or purpose for the chucked-out piece.

A while back someone gave me two concrete core samples as she knew I could use it somehow.

Because there is no steel in the core, it is prone to crumble and break. I decided to use slices in my latest lamp design.

This has a two-fold function: Firstly it makes the base heavier and sturdier. Secondly it gives the base some texture and makes the overall design more interesting. (Apologies for low resolution pics)

Just completed in workshop

 

Copper core lamp

 

Made with 90% recycled material

 

For the base I used one of the bookends I salvaged a few years ago to make the Pixar Lamp.

Discarded book-ends

I also used a piece of copper as the backbone. And some odds and ends to complete the product.

 

On display in shop along with my other products

No need for trash to look ugly! I love it to the core! ❤

 

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I just made up a word!

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak at the Open Design Festival‘s Talk100 Sessions, in Cape Town. I was privileged to have a 20 minute slot to talk about anything design!

Most of my design thinking is about creating awareness about social problems. Something that evolved naturally as those issues have impacted my life, directly or indirectly in some way. Instead of moaning about issues, I have decided to constructively address it through design, furniture and products.

The historic City Hall of Cape Town

 

Some of my lamps in the Made in Everywhere pop-up store

On stage

What a beautiful, historic building to visit and I had an opportunity to speak my voice! And I made history by making up a new word!  INNOCESSITY 🙂

Here follows my presentation to explain:

 

 

Read about how I made this table here. 

Read the article about the Pixar lamp here. Here is an example of another tin can lamp.

We run these programmes under The Chosen Foundation. Read more about it here.

You can support my cause and buying my products here.

And on the Made in Everywhere website 🙂 Whoop!

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Oh…Mother City!

Last week we went on a trip to the Mother City of Cape Town! I regularly visit the city for work and business, but have always had a desire to spent a night. In all my years living in the Western Cape, I have never slept in the city!

You all know my fascination with cities like Johannesburg. Read about it here! I love learning about the city where I live and play. This was an impromptu trip…just like I like it!

We stayed with a great couple called Igrid and Basil. Their lodge is in Kloofzight, and the My city bus-stop is literally opposite their home. So convenient. We love public transport and took a bus to Houtbay.

Family selfie

On of the bus stops en-route to Camps Bay

 

En-route to Camps bay

 

Enjoying the sun in Hout Bay

 

Beautiful Houtbay

 

Sea gulls

We had lunch at Fish on the Rocks, our favourite place to have fish and chips. Then we accidentally discovered Bay Harbour market in one of the old fish factory buildings just opposite the eatery. What a great place to hang out! The vibe was great…and the artisans and design work on display even better! We spent the whole afternoon browsing and enjoying the atmosphere! Sorry I didn’t take any photos!

Then jumped on the bus again back to our room.

 

Sunset below Table Mountain

After a good night’s rest, we took some great pictures, and greeted our very hospitable hosts. We prayed on the rooftop before we left.

View from the top

 

A view from the rooftop

 

Perfect weather

 

 

Lions head

 

What a backdrop!

What a great time we had…and the weather was perfection! A great way to end of the school holidays…and I have inspiration for daaayyyyyys! 🙂

 

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Innovation is easy pea(sy)

Innovation: {The creation of something in the mind; The act of starting something for the first time; introducing something new}

This idea came to me in the midnight hours. As the saying goes: “Great ideas don’t keep office hours” 🙂

We are in the midst of a water crisis and I thought of creating some awareness around it. Cactus plants are water-wise plants and require very little water to thrive.

I also thought of a way for people to still enjoy some greenery on their desks, without having to water it! So I designed a little stationery holder…specifically for paper clips. It is made using a pea can or food can.

Initial sketch

CAD drawing

Did you know? Paper clips were used to help fight the Nazis. During the Second World War, Norwegian resistance fighters attached a single paper clip to their lapel as a subtle indication that they were taking the fight to Hitler’s troops.

 

Completed product

I am all about being practical. On the inside of the lid is a handy magnet to keep your paper clips close and handy.

On the desk

Cuteness! 🙂 From kitchen waste to a functional, cute product!

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The inspiration behind the Slave Bell Lamp

I am no social activist, but as of late I find I want to express my opinion regarding social matters through my designs.

A native of the Western Cape, I lived in Johannesburg for the last 7 years and recently returned back home. In a way, my absence made me oblivious to certain ills of our tainted history.

 

Ironically, despite all the efforts made, the great divide still exists and it is more and more evident that the gap of inequality is getting bigger…instead of narrowing.  The effect it has had on me is quite shocking and monuments like the slave bell towers that are scattered on many farms, has started an emotional battle within me. And instead of ranting and raving, I have decided to create constructive awareness through design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough said. All I ask is that we remember.

#blackconsciousness #rememberslavery #remembrance #slavery

 

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Behind the scenes of CGTN Interview

What a crazy few weeks for Lilly Loompa!

Crazy but good! In April our work was picked up by an International News Bureau, Chinese Global Television Network (CGTN) and they visited our workshop in Cape Town, South Africa, to document what I do!

Here are some behind the scenes pictures, courtesy of my dear friend, Natalie Gabriels.

Testing!

 

A little bit more relaxed now!

 

Leon is such a great guy…made me feel really relaxed!

 

Get to work!

 

Demonstrating the making of a product

 

You feel so much pressure when people are watching you’re every move!

 

The making of a Triangle tin can lamp

 

Pic of our product in SA Homeowner Mag

 

And that’s a wrap!

Julie Scheier is the correspondent who contacted me. Unfortunately she could not attend on the day. Leon Hagen who conducted the interview is such a great guy! He made me feel very relaxed and never once put pressure on me! A genuine nice guy…with almost 30 years experience in TV.

Here is a link to the segment:

It is certainly true that the TV adds a few pounds! Whoo-eh-eh! I blame these wonderful Cape Town koeksisters and my lack of discipline!

All in all…a wonderful experience. I am truly blessed!

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How I upgraded to junk-status

Junk-status – the word of the moment…or maybe it has been for the last few months.

As an ordinary South African, I have some idea of what it means for our country. In a nutshell, it means that we have been flushed down the credit drain by a plague of bad leadership decisions. And a reshuffle.

This news spread unwanted doom and gloom in an already unstable economy. Instead of wallowing over something I have no control over, in a strange way, this news immediately reminded me of my own downgrade I experienced about 10 years ago.

I was blacklisted and cast out of the credit system through a bad financial investment. This caused me and my family many years of financial trouble and sleepless nights. Inadvertently, our lives changed forever. For many years it was a struggle to survive…we literally lived from hand-to-mouth.

About 6 years ago, I started building furniture for my own home, out of necessity. Guess what I used to build it with? RUBBISH…JUNK!

The strangest thing happened – out of lack and with some creativity, I started my business, Lilly Loompa.

I decided to use the resources I had and started building beautiful, useful pieces that made my home better. It made me feel better about my situation. These pieces made out of junk, was the manifestation of the mess I found myself in.

Unknowingly, I UPGRADED to junk-status, and I loved it! This is what this experience has taught me:

  1. Use what you have! I am a firm believer of this and it has become one of my life-values. When you have nothing in your grocery cupboards, start growing a food garden! Live off the earth!

Made with junk! Tin can lamp by Lilly Loompa

  1. Stay positive – It is so easy to become downcast and depressed when you find yourself in an unwanted situation. Read motivational books and autobiographies of people that inspire you. Exercise more and eat healthier.

 

  1. Downgrade your lifestyle – Do not even attempt to keep up with the Jones’. Learn to live with less. Sell your fancy home, and buy a more affordable one. Eat less at restaurants, and have more picnics.

 

  1. Live simpler – Get rid of complications in your life. Try to break away from the rat race by going to the park after work. Why not try to cook outdoors tonight? Instead of being cooped up inside the house?

 

  1. Be creative – Creativity grows more, through adversity. I have said this before and I still believe it now more than ever. Being strapped for cash should be an opportunity to start multiple income streams. Make a list of your skills and investigate and pursue income opportunities in those industries.

 

  1. Be content in the situation – Be happy. Laugh more in spite of what your reality says. See the lighter side in every situation…a good laughter session can cure the saddest heart.

 

  1. Don’t let depression rob you – I remember clearly many days I just wanted to get under the covers and stay there. I wanted to wallow and sulk. I felt like I was entitled to be depressed. Surround yourself with positive people that will decline an invite to your pity party.

Made with junk! Block lamp by Lilly Loompa

 

  1. Rags to riches – believe it can happen to you. Believe the unthinkable. Believe that through hard work and commitment, you story can change. Also know that your success story can free someone else from their prison!

 

“If people throw stones at you, pick ‘em up and build something.”

Lecrae

In my case, I have adapted it to read:

 

“If life throw stones at you, pick ‘em up and build something.”

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My dream living room is a quirky one

I never thought of myself as quirky, but as I have grown as a Designer, I find myself more and more drawn to the unusual.

General Geography Lamp

One of my designs – a desk lamp made out of a used book-end (Lilly Loompa)

So much so, that I am trying to break away from the traditional in so many areas of my life. Some may think I am a rebel, but maybe I just don’t like the conventional. Conventional is boring!

My most recent stint to fuel my hunger for the off-beat, is my home. My family and I live in a shipping container, called “House Madeline“.

It is far from complete, but it is a labour of love. We have been living in this home for close to 2 years and have recently shipped it to our home province, the Western Cape, where we live in it now.

As mentioned, it is far from complete. We have big plans to make it a comfortable, yet stylish home with personality! (maybe my personality…don’t tell my husband!)

Another design inspired by the environment I find myself in…Jozi Art (Lilly Loompa)

I want our house to reflect our true style and personality. I want it to be filled with items that make me happy and pieces that tell a story…just like my furniture pieces. So I have some ideas of what our living room should look like:

Crushing on Marissa Tomei’s apartment

I love Marissa Tomei’s style (not to mention that she is my hubby’s TV crush!). I really like the animal-skin tripod chair and the lamp, they add a uniqueness to her apartment.

I love retro furniture, especially this couch!

Again, above the natural elements speak to me! The nguni skin rug and the leather couch make the space feel warm and inviting.

The artwork is unique but unified by framing it all in black

Light and airy spaces are essential for me.

Patterns, texture and plants are also non-negotiable!

I have recently seen a beautiful couch on Arhaus. I have decided to build a mood board around it:

Neutral colours for the base furnishings

 

Continuation with neutral colours and pops of turquiose

Colourful accents

Obviously these are ideas of what I would want to see in our living room. As a Eco-Designer, I have to stay true to my values and principles by re-using and buying green products. But I will use this as my guide for inspiration.

Have you designed your dream space? Are you living in it right now? Would love to hear from you! 🙂

Sources: Lilly Loompa, Arhaus, Nkuli Mlangeni, Marisa Tomei 

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6 Easy ways to apply creativity to your business

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When I get a creative idea, it feels like the inside of my brain is having a fireworks display. Little pockets of colour and excitement explode non-stop and the only way to calm this euphoric sensation is by executing my idea. Sometimes it is easy to bring the idea to life, sometimes the execution becomes an experiment. Either way, I love this process. It allows me to explore unchartered territory, or even unusual ways of doing things.

In business, creativity is non-negotiable. In fact, I would dare to say…you cannot build a successful business or brand without it. I believe many businesses struggle because they have not struck a balance between good business practices and creativity. Not just creativity in the sense of a creative product, but applying creative thinking and creativeness in every area in business.

It is imperative that we constantly find creative ways of selling and building our brand. If we want to stand out from the crowd, we need to be different. Being different requires ingenuity. Standing out sometimes means swimming upstream.

A great example of constantly applying creativity in business is the Sir of business himself – Richard Branson. He has built an empire based on creativity and resourcefulness.

Let’s look at the word, creativity:

Creativity – the ability to create; the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness

Guess from which source I derived the above meaning? You guessed it, Google! One of the most creative companies of the modern-day world.

In my own business, I have to constantly look at new and creative ways of growing my brand and business.

Let us look at 6 easy ways of boosting creativity in your business…

1. Creative thinking

Take time during the day and dedicate it specifically to creative thinking. A practical example could be to keep an idea box. Write down your ideas (even if they seem far-fetched), and regularly re-visit them. Keep this box in a communal area and encourage your employees to use this system to also encourage team spirit.  Do not allow the box to gather dust! Open it at your weekly team meetings and try to apply at least one of these ideas per month. You could also keep it anonymous to refrain from judgmental tendencies.

2. Play area

Dedicate a communal area in your office for them to relax and “play” in. Make it as interesting and stimulating as possible with bold wall colours and comfortable seating. A great example of this is again Googleplex in California. It is a place of complete delight and bliss. According to research, creating an interesting environment for staff members will also decrease absenteeism. Research also shows that mental breaks and playtime increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories and encourage creativity.

3. Revisit product/service

Revisit your product or service and gauge it in the market. Study your competitors as well as general businesses who are reaching success in the market. Come up with new ways of selling your product to the market. I recently visited Expresso, South Africa’s first R10 coffee shop. It is a brilliant concept that sells great quality coffee and pastries at only R10 per serving!  I immediately fell in love with the brand as I find comfort in the fact that everything in store is R10. As a consumer I could feel the tangible generosity of the brand as I am receiving great value, at a great price!

4. Give them web-time

Yes! Allow them to play on the internet for a certain amount of time per day to research sales strategies and study the brand giants. Web platforms like Google and YouTube can be very resourceful to small businesses especially. We all use the phrase “Google it”. Although we do not encourage employees to spend hours upon hours playing senselessly on the internet, your business and sales can benefit exponentially from this exercise, done within limits.

5. Appoint a CCO (Chief Creative Officer) 

Give this informal title to your most creative employee. This is not a formal job position. It gives room for the staff member to constantly seek creative solutions. This could be a roving title as it spreads the responsibility and also motivates team spirit. Allow this person regular access to different departments to see how the operations work. This promotes transparency and allows them to find creative suggestions for streamlining operations and sales.

6. Forget about budget

Yes, I said it…forget the numbers! Do not let the lack of money and resources dampen your ideas or strategy. Most small business owners struggle with working capital and this can be quite disheartening. You are not alone…cheer up! Instead opt to implement the same idea with the money and resources available. If the idea is really good and you see benefit in it, try and raise the money to roll it out. Or put it on the back burner till you have the cash!

Because I sell a physical product, I need to apply creativity above all else when I design a new furniture piece. I pride myself on designing unique and exclusive items, thus I have to apply some of these above-mentioned ways to bring my designs into being and to market.

As in life, there are no guarantees, except if you diligently apply them, and almost force yourself out of your comfort zone, your business will start seeing growth.

As I mentioned earlier, fireworks are synonymous with celebrations and milestones. So my conclusion is that your creative ideas should be celebrated. They need to be brought to life…by you!

Lizl Naude is the founder of Lilly Loompa in South Africa, a company that creates beautiful and usable furniture pieces made with recycled material. Lilly Loompa’s “Rubbish Range” is the result of Lizl’s craving to deliver pieces that are completely “green”. Lizl is a self taught designer and started designing and making furniture because she couldn’t afford to buy new pieces to furnish her home. She started to scout and source for budget material and quickly realised that most people discard of very usable materials. This led to her building and designing beautiful furniture items that she used in her home.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM |  Read Lizl’s startup story here.

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What would we do without the Sun?

Sun ~ {The star that is the source of light and heat for the planets in the solar system}

The sun is a miracle from God. 🙂

It gives life and spreads its love across our globe. When I think of how much energy gets lost every day, without us harvesting it, I get a little sad.

We have tried our hand at some primal methods of harvesting the sun’s energy. In 2013 I tried some DIY methods to warm our water when our landlord at the time, refused to settle his municipal bill and the council cut our electricity supply. In hindsight, it was a learning curve.

Homemade shower

This was my homemade shower in 2013

We have a goal of building our container home totally off-grid and dependent on harvesting energy and water from nature. It has been said that:

“Enough sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface in one hour to satisfy the whole world’s energy demands for an entire year.”

The problem is, we are not capturing or harvesting it. So in our little corner of the world, we are working on some DIY solutions for our home.

We currently do not have access to an electric geyser, so we do not have warm water readily available. Although cold showers are somewhat refreshing some days, other days you really need warm water to soothe your soul and for washing hair! Ashley came up with this idea to build our own solar geyser…please note it is still under construction:

geyser

Home-made solar geyser pitched on roof

The idea is that the black painted barrel on top will warm the water and relay it to the 2nd hand geyser at the bottom, which we will clothe in a geyser blanket. The bottom geyser will keep it warm, ready for use as we need it. The process will begin again, by filling up with cold water on top and repeating. It should work well as we have sun almost 9 months of the year in Jozi.

Until then, this is my system:

Plastic geyser

Catching the last bit of sun for the day!

Warming our water in a water dispenser, and using it as a shower! It works quite well. I fill it halfway with water and I place it in a warm sunny place for most of the day. By 16h00 the water is quite warm, and ready for use!

make shift shower

Make-shift shower

The showers are calculated and quick! We use between 7-10 liters per use, which makes it super efficient! As I said before, going off-grid is not easy, but super rewarding!

sun warms heart

What have you done to go green? Please share!

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How to organise a small kitchen: DIY kitchen caddy

Kitchen caddy~{Organising aid that helps to streamline operations in kitchen.} 

Having a small kitchen comes with its own challenges. We are still building our home, thus there are many things that still needs to be done. Including our kitchen. We do not have cupboards yet, thus I have had to improvise.

Kitchen

Kitchen area

We have had to cleverly divide the big room into different functional areas. Behind the kitchen is Ashley’s office. To the left is the dining area.

I needed a solution to hang our keys and hang paper towel, foil and cling wrap. I picked up an old spice rack a while back at the local charity store. They were actually throwing it out. (the pic below is not the original spice rack. I forgot to take a before pic! Uuuugh! This one I got from the internet.)

before

Before

I sanded it down, and spray-painted it. I wanted a muted colour to fit in with the room divider, as I did with the spice rack I am currently using.

Kitchen caddy

Kitchen caddy

It has enough space to hang the keys, a resting place for the firelighter (which I use to light the gas stove), the paper towel roll and cling wrap, etc. I used the dowels as the rails to slide the cling wrap on.

Caddy next to black spice rack

Caddy next to black spice rackre

Besides the fact that it blends so well into the background, it is really practical too! Another great way of up-cycling an old spice rack.

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Going potty!: DIY-planter

Aaaaaah! 🙂

…what a nice holiday break we had!

I purposefully switched off and it was great!

Now I am attempting to go back to what seems normal. No more sand between my toes. “Take me back to the beach!”

Towards the end of 2015, I made two small planters. It was an idea that I was toying with. Obviously it was my first attempt. I had two special households in mind when I made it.

I gave one to my cuz, Damian and his wife Lucinda as a gift. We stayed a night with them in Bloemfontein en route to Paarl before Christmas. When we returned in January en route to Jozi, I was pleasantly surprised to see them appreciate it like this!

 

Ain't it cute?

Ain’t it cute?

planter done 2

Love the grain of the wood

planter done

I think the pink one is my favourite

They bought little succulents in the cutest holders.  It warmed my heart. Look at it sitting pretty on their kitchen counter! What a nice way to bring the outside in…and these babies require very little maintenance.

Here is the before picture when I just completed it. It is made with saligna wood. It was left untreated as I wasn’t sure which finish they would like. They opted to keep it raw.

Planter

Planter

The other one I gave to one of my school buddies, Bernadette and her hubby, Andre. We visited them in Jeffreysbay also. Uhm…cannot wait to see how they have used it! Send those piccies Bernie!

Here’s to a wonderful 2016 for us all!

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DIY: Kiddies playstove

Play stove ~ {A wooden-build toy stove for kids to introduce them to the culinary world by encouraging imaginative play}

Another project I completed when doing my training course in carpentry in October, I am very excited about this one…especially since it is a surprise for my girls. They have no idea I made it for them…it is hidden in a special place…awaiting to be revealed in time for Christmas! Ssshuuuuuuuushhhhhh!

Stove

Vintage-inspired play stove

I was inspired by this one I found on Ana White’s website. I am hoping to build the complete kitchen over the next few months.

playkitchen

In progress

In progress

I used supa-wood off-cuts. I completed the project under the guidance of my training supervisor.

Stove1

Drawer

Stove2

Inside oven

It needs a few tweaks here and there, but I will give it to them in a few weeks time! I need to give it another lick of paint but I am super excited…remember don’t say anything…it’s a secret!

 

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DIY: Tap your Tippy Tap

Tippy Tap ~ {The tippy tap is a hands free way to wash your hands that is especially appropriate for rural areas where there is no running water. It is operated by a foot lever and thus reduces the chance for bacteria transmission as the user touches only the soap. It uses only 40 millilitres of water to wash your hands versus 500 millilitres using a mug. Additionally, the used “waste” water can go to plants or back into the water table.}

I had so much fun making this project!

Tippy Tap 4

As per previous posts, you will read that we currently use an outside bathroom facility as our container home is still under construction. It houses a shower and toilet, but no hand-wash basin. This posed a health problem as we couldn’t wash our hands. For the last few months we have been washing our hands in the kitchen sink! Uhm…not ideal.

Outside bathroom

Outside bathroom

Anyhooo. It was time to improvise. I saw this cool device on a local programme, Voetspore, a few months ago. It immediately caught my attention.

In my rubbish stash, I had some old easels that would be perfect to use. I used them previously for another cool project, where I made an A-frame shelf.

I started off attaching the frame to the fence. The idea is not to make a permanent fixture. So the fence was perfect.

I leveled it and assembled it. I added a water bottle and soap.  To fully operate it needs a foot lever which you fasten with rope and tie it to the bottle neck.

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Easel

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Attach frame to fence

Tippy Tap 1

Fully assembled

Tippy Tap 2

5 liter bottle and soap on a rope

Tippy Tap 3

With foot lever

images

How to use tippy tap

The kids love this new device! It promotes good hand-washing habits and it is fun to use!

Would you use a tippy tap?

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A little rubbish here and there…

I have become a professional scavenger by now. I know what I want, otherwise I can easily be seen as a hoarder.

I am so excited about my new finds…

 

image

Not sure yet what they’ll be…Watch this space…

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DIY – Salvaged chest of drawers

Chest of drawers ~ {Furniture with drawers for keeping clothes}

I love going to the rubbish dump. Last year I got this beauty from the local dump by chance.

Before

Just a skeleton

So I used it as is, without drawers, in our bathroom. About a year ago I did not have the skills to restore it. My training in carpentry has definitely paid off! I have managed to make 3 drawers to fit!

Drawer front

Drawer front

Drawer

Drawer inside

Front view

Done – Front facade

Side view

Side view

 

Up close

Up close

I used Saligna wood and decided not to finish it with handles. I wanted a simple look and just made big holes for our fingers to pull it out. I have also decided to not paint the drawers white. I just love it!

Another great up-cycled project that cost me very little!

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DIY-Wall clock done!

I shared my progress on this creation a few weeks ago.

This clock was inspired by the skyline of Jozi. I originally intended it to be vertical in shape. But as I started working on it, it evolved as is.

I found these off-cuts in a skip at my local carpentry factory. I love rummaging for good stuff. It is birch-wood plywood…oh, it is beautiful wood.

Wall clock.3

Quite happy on the container wall

Wall clock

I used Popsicle sticks to adorn the clock mechanism

 

Wall clock1

Unique and bespoke wall clock

 

Wall clock2

Lovely textures

And it is totally hand-made. Quite chuffed!

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DIY – Jewellery box

Jewellery: {An adornment (as a bracelet, ring or necklace) made of precious metals and set with gems (or imitation gems)}

As mentioned in my other blog, Obviouslyisaid, I have just completed a course in furniture-making. Whoop-whoop!

It is indeed a dream come true. Although I am self-taught, I needed corrective training and I started with the basics.

I needed to learn how to use all tools and machines and practice safety first. One of my first projects was a storage box/jewellery box. My very vocal trainer, Schalk, designed the box and supervised while I made it. (Not really my taste in design)

Unfortunately I could not take pics of the process as camera’s are not really allowed on the factory floor. With this said, here are some pics.

DSC09162

DSC09163

DSC09165

Happy DIY-er!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: (Extra) ordinary

Extraordinary ~ {Beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable}

We frequent the Kruger National Park quite regularly. In fact for the last 11 years I think we have been there at least 15  times.

In June of this year we visited again. In all the years we have been going there, the sighting below is quite rare.

Lion 1

Lion 4

Lion 3

Lion 7

Lion 5

Lion 6

A whole pack of lions in broad daylight. They came so close to the vehicles it was nerve-wrecking and exhilarating at the same time!

First the lionesses and cubs made their appearance. Then the males came. Lazily strolling through the park while nosy cameras went wild.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

We have a lot of happy places as a family. One is a hidden gem in the Western Cape called; Grootwinterhoek in Afrikaans- which translates to Big Winter Corner in English.

Rockhaven

Expansive sky

Sunset Grootwinterhoek

Sunset Grootwinterhoek

rockhaven-grotte-007

Ancient Bushman drawings outside a cave

There is no or limited network availability which means you are cut off from the world. It is quiet and there are mountain streams galore. It is rich with history and even have ancient caves with Bushman drawings. The area is known to even have a few mountain leopards.

I miss it…I hope to visit there soon again!

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