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I run my own business – Andrea Barras from Baby Bird Basics

When The Grace Factory hosted it’s first #TGFsocial we asked on twitter who could design a flyer for us and Andrea Barras was the first to saa “yes I will do it”. I thought – cool, at least now I don’t need to do it on power point. But WOW – did Andrea EXCEED all my expectations (so cliché, but so true). Check out this professional flyer!!

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Since then we’ve had a wonderful twitter relationship, never even met before. She’s done all TGF logos, website design, business cards etc. and I’ve had so many people comment about how professionally it was done. Thanks for your reliability Andrea and for your awesome work that you produce!! Read more about her businesses here:

Name: Andrea Barras

Business name and website: I have two!

Andrea Barras Graphic Design & Creative Consulting – andreabarras.com

Baby Bird Basics – babybirdbasics.com

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Brief description of business: Andrea Barras Graphic Design & Creative Consulting – as the name suggests, I am a freelance graphic designer and creative specialist – I love working with start-ups and mom-who-work-from-home in particular but welcome all business opportunities from all over SA (and the world really – I have clients from Australia and the UK – ah, the wonder of modern technology!) Baby Bird Basics – I hand make and sell baby/baby-related goodies like bandana bibs, teething rings, dummy clips and nursing covers for breastfeeding mamas

Since when have you run your own business:

I have been freelancing since the beginning of 2010 (while we were still in the UK) and have done so through a move across the world, back to SA, and through both of my pregnancies. Baby Bird Basics is a newer venture that has been going for just under a year now – launched it soon after my second daughter was born (some say brave, other say crazy!)

Why is it better than working for a boss:

Both my businesses allow me the flexibility I need in order to be the best mom I can be – working for someone else is less likely to afford me the time and lifestyle I live. Unfortunately it means some late nights at times but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hate working for other people – I have tried it! – I just like to be my own boss 🙂

Thing you enjoy most each day:

Working from home, being with my kids, wearing my slippers all day!

Thing you enjoy least each day:

Not always getting things done when I want to because of working from home!

Advice for people starting their own business:

Wow, where do I begin! A few things to share: a) If you are a mom and/or if it’s a creative business I’d highly recommend reading any/all of these books by Meg Mateo Ilasco to start with: http://mateoilasco.com/books.

b) good branding is essential if you want your business to be taken seriously and to appeal to it’s intended market – and no, whipping up your logo by yourself in Paint does not count 😉 Make the investment and hire someone to help you with this aspect, spend some money to make even more.

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c) spend some time on analyzing the competitors – can you see what works for them, what doesn’t? Apply your learning’s to your own business.

d) be patient but proactive, enthusiastic but not forceful, engage with your customers/clients and find out what you can do to make your service/products stand out from the rest – your unique selling point!

Top three things you have learnt from having your own business:

1. hard work and dedication are the cornerstone of any business, things don’t just happen magically and on their own/overnight

2. making genuine connections through social media and dedicated networking events is invaluable

3. patience and positivity go a long way!

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Online shopping

I am a devoted online shopping fan, being a full time working mum, wife and charity worker, online shopping really saves so much time! It’s just so easy, open the website you would like to shop from, click and pay with your credit card. Most places charge a delivery fee, but when you’re a regular you sometimes receive free delivery, or if you purchase over a certain price.

Most of my online shopping experiences have been great, but some have been TERRIBLE. I ordered a gift for my sister in law’s kitchen tea, from Boardmans, as I was in hospital and could not attend. It was to be delivered to Port Shepstone.  This was in May 2014, nevertheless, this has STILL not been delivered but has been charged to my Edgars account??? What could have possibly happened to this gift? Is this possibly a message to consumers that if you order in major centres, such as Jozi you’ll get good service but a “small town” like Port Shepstone gets neglected? I phoned Boardmans in June to cancel and they said they can’t cancel the order, as it has already been dispatched. Well we’re in July and still no sign of my gift. I don’t know what to do anymore, as it does not help to phone them to complain? Anyone had a similar experience and can give me advice? Not sure if Hello Peter works, never used it before.

My GREAT online experiences have been at:

  • Woolworths (if over a certain amount or a certain area delivery is free)
  • Pick n Pay (if you purchase often, free delivery)
  • Character Planet – bought Erin the most beautiful Minnie Mouse bedding
  • Takealot – ALWAYS get great service from them, delivery is done by Mr Delivery normally in a tuktuk
  • Then, my favourite – happy feed – paid at 2pm, and it was delivered before 4pm

Happy shopping everyone!

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I run my own business – Meryl Bailey from Linguamites

As my husband runs his own business, and I run my own charity I have a slight idea what it is like to run your own business (slight). I’ll be doing a series on friends of mine who run their own businesses, to help encourage people to run their own businesses, give advice etc.

Name: Meryl Bailey

Business name and website: LinguaMites Multilingual Education (www.linguamites.co.za)

Brief description of business: I started the very first trilingual pre-school in South Africa one year ago and have since been building our new brand of education through curriculum development, R&D, and teacher training. Our school offers quality education to children 1-5yrs old in English, Chinese and isiZulu with remarkable results.

Since when have you run your own business: July 2013

Why is it better than working for a boss: I have my own time that can fit into the needs of my family, i.e. I can cancel appointments if my kids are sick, I can schedule ‘fun’ social things in traditional ‘work time’ and there is so much flexibility and opportunity of where my business can take me and my family.

Thing you enjoy most each day: I love that my ‘job’ of setting up this school and developing a unique model in education directly benefits my own children. I love that I get to be so involved in giving them the exact kind of education I want for them, and helping other families do the same, while also building an income for me and my family.

Thing you enjoy least each day: It’s probably the thing I love and hate the most: and that is juggling all the roles I have to have. Wearing the hat of mommy for a few hours, then wife and homemaker, then businesswoman, then back to breastfeeding mommy, etc. and so it goes. It is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time!

Advice for people starting their own business:

  1. Plan as much as you possibly can before you start, so you have a good idea of what you are getting into. But once you have started, go with the flow, so much changes every day and you have to be able to adapt your original ideas (or die).
  2. Spend time every month working ON your business not just IN your business – things like market research, mentorship, financial guidance – you can’t see all the gaping holes in your business until you take a step back and you need to give yourself regular time to do that so you don’t miss the important things you can improve.
  3. Having your own business is wonderful and I wouldn’t change my life for anything – but it’s not a fairytale and I think many people say they want their own businesses but in reality it’s much harder than working a job and earning a steady salary. So I would say you must be convinced it’s what you want, and be passionate about what you’re doing because if it’s going to be what you live and breathe for the next few years you better love it!

Top three things you have learnt from having your own business:

  1. You work harder in your own business than you do for a boss; I am a much tougher boss to myself than someone else would be.
  2. You never stop working, and this is hard because you need to set clear boundaries about when you’re going to work because ‘working from home’ can infringe on family time very quickly and easily. I have to be deliberate about switching my phone off and not answering emails during prime time with my kids, and then I have to stay motivated to take small gaps of time when they are sleeping or occupied to work on my business.
  3. I believe small businesses are the future of this country – if we are to combat the unemployment and education crisis it’s going to be through empowering small business enterprise so I am committed to small business!

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Teaching your child a language you don’t understand?

A church friend of mine, Meryl, runs the only trilingual school in South Africa, Linguamites. At Linguamites children are taught in English, Chinese and Zulu. I REALLY wanted to send Erin to this school, but we live to far away from Fourways and the commute each morning would be crazy.

I do however REALLY want Erin to learn a second (Zulu) and possibly third (Afrikaans) language. I know the advantage of speaking more than one language as I’ve always been bilingual (English and Afrikaans). Our nanny is trying to teach Erin Zulu, but I does feel strange that my daughter may be able to speak a language that I don’t understand at all. But I want her to have the opportunities I never had. And NOW is the age to teach languages – to children, as they are like sponges and I can already see how many Zulu words she says without even thinking.

Meryl wrote this blog post last week and I can totally relate to this. I really want to learn Zulu too (and so does Damien) but I feel like we just don’t have the time at the moment and also don’t feel “gifted” in the languages department….

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

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Chocolate Coffee expo

My mum and I attended the chocolate and coffee expo on Saturday at Monte Casino.

Things we LOVED:

  • Ken Forrester wine and chocolate pairing (great way to kick off the expo)
  • LOADS of chocolate to taste (and olives, pestos etc. – which was slightly random, yet divine, at a chocolate expo)
  • Divine coffee (not much to taste, but loads to buy)
  • The drinks we had afterwards at Monte’s square
  • Spring weather!!!! (I smell spring in the air, no more need to dress like an ESKIMO)

Things we didn’t love:

  • CROWDS – way too many people were stuffed into the tents and loads of kids
  • Very limited innovative products, expected slightly more chocolatiers and baristas

Overall it was a GREAT afternoon out with my mum and I also got to see my uncle at drinks afterwards which was FAB.

Erin, Damien, Matthew (my bro) and my dad went to WODAC (world of dogs and cats) and they absolutely LOVED it! Erin especially loved the snakes.

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What a newborn baby (and mom) needs

When Erin was born, two years ago, I was completely overwhelmed by everything and the first few weeks were not easy for me emotionally – although Erin was a VERY easy baby. These were the things I could not cope without:

  • Pampers premium nappies – only size 1 was available then, but with my next child I’ll definitely buy size 0. These nappies just don’t leak, love them!
  • Pigeon breast pads – I had enough milk for triplets (another post about this later), couldn’t go anywhere without breastpads, even slept with them.
  • Humidifier – As Erin was a winter baby the air was so dry, we had our humidifier on permanently.
  • Mild laxative – what people DON’T tell you is after a c section constipation can start to become a problem (for a week or so) and your tummy is too sore to go to the loo, so this helps. (slight over share, but if it helps just one person it’s worth it)
  • Sterimar for babies – for dry wintery baby nostrils that tend to be blocked.
  • Bepanthen – as newborns have number 2 nappies often a good bum cream is VITAL. Bepanthen is super expensive but so worth it and doubles up as a great nipple cream.
  • Jungle juice – Made with rescue remedy drops, apple juice and rehydrate sachet works really well to give you energy after a long day of breastfeeding and changing nappies.
  • Receiving blankets – we had about 30 of these and swaddled Erin for every sleep time until she was 4 months old. I still believe this is why she slept so well 🙂
  • Disposable panties – just much better to dispose of these instead of wash them.
  • Maternity pads – every new mom (Caesar or natural) needs these.
  • Feeding bra – if you breastfeeding you need at least three of these, bear in mind that your bra size might (probably will) change when your milk comes in. Mine went from 34 B/C to 36 DD……
  • Johnsons top to toe wash – I just loved this and still use it on Erin (2 years later), it’s so mild and can be used on body and hair.
  • Angelcare apnea monitor – gave me peace of mind and ensured that Erin slept in her cot from 5 days of age.
  • Sleep positioner – helps them stay in position you want them in, Erin was a “pukky” baby so I would place her on her side.

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