Category Archives: Business

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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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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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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