The one where we go surfing at Muizenberg

Once a month, Pomegranite leaves the office for a morning or afternoon, and spends some time out in the world, talking about the business, coming up with new ideas, and just having fun, doing something we will remember with more clarity than answering emails and drawing up invoices.

For our March inspiration day, we decided to visit one of my favourite places in Cape Town, Muizenberg Beach. Liz, who grew up in Durban and hence knows how to surf (the two are synonymous aren’t they?) agreed to teach me the art. Let me just say that I am the biggest Vaalie. Having lived in Cape Town for nearly a year and a half, I still get SO excited when I see the sea and feel the sand between my toes. So, when Liz suggested the surfing idea, let’s just say that I was on board (Yip. That just happened).

If you know me at all, you will know that I am something of a perfectionist, and I am unlikely to quit anything until I get it right. Surfing was no different.

So, from my (vast) experience, here are 10 things every beginner surfer needs to know:

1) Trying to carry a surfboard in the wind is bloody difficult. Have you ever watched someone trying to bath a cat? Ja – it’s kind of like that. Just harder. Top tip: let your business partner carry it. She loves it. And you’re a novice, remember? Do not be afraid to play that card.

2) Set aside a good hour to put your wetsuit on. It’s an acquired skill apparently.

3) Don’t skip the embarrassing “lesson on the sand” part. People have come to the beach primarily to people watch. Do not deprive them of some quality entertainment.

4) You will feel like a child initially. A special needs child. Embrace it. Everyone needs to feel ridiculous from time to time.

5) It is likely that your “teacher” will speak to you in a soothing voice you’ve once heard her use while babysitting a screaming child. She will tell you that you are doing “soooooo well!” And she’s right. Obviously. That nine year old kid has nothing on you.

6) Make sure your wetsuit is the right size. The guy at the surf shop underestimated my height a bit, so I kind of felt like my wetsuit was trying (and succeeding) to choke me the whole time. Not ideal.

7) You will get a lot of sea water up your nose, which is ever so slightly unpleasant. Ever so slightly. On the plus side, no blocked sinus issues for what I can only assume will be the rest of your life.

8) Don’t be afraid to just kneel on the board in the beginning. People may tell you to “stand up, dammit!” But what do they know? You’ve got some moves. They’re just jealous of your lunge.

9) Make sure that you yell loudly at people in your way as you cruise into shore at break-neck speed. They need enough time to throw themselves out of your way. Be considerate.

10) It’s not the most comfortable experience you’ll ever have. But that feeling of riding that final wave right into shore, casually hopping off and dancing a wild victory dance glancing nonchalantly at your “teacher” as she cheers you on… It’s pretty damn amazing.

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Office for the afternoon

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Putting on a wetsuit is HARD

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As I said…

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Post-surf smugness

 

Why the internet was invented: Humans of New York

I use the internet every day. My appreciation of the world wide web is mostly from quite a hum-drum perspective. Every now and then, though, I come across something online so awesome that I feel like I need to stop, take a moment, and just be grateful that the internet was invented. And not just because my job wouldn’t exist without it.

Case in point: Humans of New York.

Brandon lost his job trading bonds in Chicago. Without much of a plan in mind, he decided to move to New York and take portraits of strangers on the streets. His mom was chuffed. As you can imagine. But, so far, things have gone pretty well for Brandon. Humans of New York has nearly 4 million followers on social media, and has become a #1 NYT bestselling book.

Each day Brandon walks the streets of New York and takes portraits of the people he meets. The best part? He collects quotes and stories from these people, which he displays alongside their portraits. The blog provides people around the world with a snapshot of the lives of New Yorkers. The success of this project speaks for itself – people are fascinated by these glimpses into the lives of strangers. Myself included.

When I first came across HONY I spent hours scrolling through their Facebook posts. There is so much joy in the portraits and their accompanying stories – but there is also a pain and vulnerability to many of the portraits Brandon captures. It’s just a beautiful snapshot of humanity, really. Do yourself a favour – follow HONY on Facebook (if you don’t already). It’s quite astounding, the poignant moments Brandon captures and the insights he comes away with after just a few moments of conversation.

One of my favourite portraits is of a man in a beanie, looking away from the camera. He leans against a wall with a skateboard in his hand.

“I told her that if she wanted to start over, to meet me where we first kissed,” his caption says. “She was supposed to be here 15 minutes ago.”

And that is all you get. That tiny window into a moment in this man’s life. A man who lives a million miles away. A man you will never meet. But for that moment, as you read those two sentences and look at his portrait which tells its own story, you are connected to him because, on some level, you identify with him. You know what he is feeling. And that, right there, is the beauty of the internet. Of social media. That it allows you to do that.

HONY makes me think. If someone came up to me on the street and took a photo of me right now, and left with one caption, what would it be?

What would yours be?

I'm not too emotional of a guy. People say I have a good heart, but they're wrong. I have principles. The heart is a fickle thing. There's no way I can love everybody. So I'm not even going to try. But I can respect everyone whether I love them or not. And that I try to do."

“I’m not too emotional of a guy. People say I have a good heart, but they’re wrong. I have principles. The heart is a fickle thing. There’s no way I can love everybody. So I’m not even going to try. But I can respect everyone whether I love them or not. And that I try to do.”

4)"What was the happiest moment of your life?" "When I married Joe." "What was the saddest moment of your life?" "When Joe died." "What was your favorite thing about Joe?" "He was oh-so-romantic." "What's the most romantic thing Joe ever did?" "Let's just say that he was good with his loving."

“What was the happiest moment of your life?”
“When I married Joe.”
“What was the saddest moment of your life?”
“When Joe died.”
“What was your favorite thing about Joe?”
“He was oh-so-romantic.”
“What’s the most romantic thing Joe ever did?”
“Let’s just say that he was good with his loving.”

3)"What's your greatest struggle right now?" "Struggle? What does that mean?" "Challenge." "Ah! Being a good grandmother." "What's the toughest part about being a good grandmother?" "Oh, I don't know if I can answer in English. Let me see.. Be Present. Listen. Be Loveful. Did I say that right? Loveful?"

“What’s your greatest struggle right now?”
“Struggle? What does that mean?”
“Challenge.”
“Ah! Being a good grandmother.”
“What’s the toughest part about being a good grandmother?”
“Oh, I don’t know if I can answer in English. Let me see.. Be Present. Listen. Be Loveful. Did I say that right? Loveful?”

2)I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.  He screamed: "A benny!"  "What's a benny?" I asked. "That's his name," said his mom.

I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He screamed: “A benny!”
“What’s a benny?” I asked.
“That’s his name,” said his mom.

5)"Well there's this girl that I'm friends with, and you know, I like her, but I don't know if she likes me..." "Do you mind if I share that?" "I don't know, if you share it, she might figure it out." "She'll definitely figure it out." "... do it."

“Well there’s this girl that I’m friends with, and you know, I like her, but I don’t know if she likes me…”
“Do you mind if I share that?”
“I don’t know, if you share it, she might figure it out.”
“She’ll definitely figure it out.”
“… do it.”

 

Five tips for working with small businesses

Generally, by the time we work with small businesses, they’ve survived early development, have a strong sense of who they are, and are ready take their marketing and branding seriously. This is never more true than with small businesses in the fashion industry. But how is working with these types of clients different to others? Here are five tips that worked for us with local fashion businesses, Soul Society and White Rabbit Days.

Before we get cracking, here’s some White Rabbit Days fabulousness:

 

1. Listen

While these clients have lived their brand since they were brave enough to go out on their own, they generally haven’t been asked to articulate it formally, so discussing business plans and marketing strategy is often a first foray into outlining strategy. Our workshops have proved valuable in these situations by giving the client clarity and strategy to build on, and by giving us insight into the business.

It’s only by really listening that you can get a sense of what makes the business different. And, in the end, that’s the story you need to tell.

2. Figure out what they need from you

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Rather figure out why they came to you. For instance, Soul Society already had a great website and really strong branding. What they needed from us was help telling their story, which is exactly what we did for them.

3. Evoke the juice

Find out what makes the brand you’re working with special and communicate that. For instance, Helen, the designer behind White Rabbit has a really animated way of speaking – making up words and cracking jokes all the time – and we used that sensibility across the copy in the website. For example, the name White Rabbit Days comes from the way Helen used to explore a new city with friends on her travels.

You pick a direction, choose a road, a door, jump on a bus; follow the white rabbit (in a non-druggie way) and see where it takes you, what treasures you find, who you meet and where you end up.

4. Be flexible

Small businesses have particular pressures. Often the person you’re liaising with is also responsible for many other things like manufacturing, distribution and accounts. They’re juggling problems and opportunities all the time and this means that you might not have direct access all the time. Once you can arrange it, however, you can make decisions with the client very quickly.

Cash flow is another things that can be difficult for small businesses. Being flexible is crucial to being able to have a good working relationship.

5. Stay in touch

You never know where these businesses are going and who they’re connected to. Every big business was once small – stay in touch and who knows where they might take you!

Here’s some Soul Society fabulousness:

Soul Society

 

Select a brand to go to their Facebook page:

Soul SocietyLogo White Rabbit Days

 

Featured (top) image source

What makes you happy? Do more of that.

It’s quite surreal to get to a point when you no longer get the Sunday blues. No dreaded Carte Blanche music to round off your weekend with that all-too-familiar leaden feeling in your stomach. I find that I don’t mind going to work on a Monday at all. In fact, I actually quite enjoy it – particularly when we’re working on projects that mean a lot to me.

I know you might be harbouring some feelings of resentment towards me right now, so let me distract you by telling you about one of my favourite projects to date: a website for my old primary school, St Katharine’s School, in Joburg.

St Katharine’s wanted a new look and feel for their online presence, and, being an old girl, I felt like I was in a good position to translate the unique ethos and atmosphere of this amazing little school (no bias, obviously) into an online space.

I loved putting the website together, crafting the content, learning things about the history of the school that I’d never heard before (for example: during the 60s, the headmistress’s favourite form of punishment was to have the offender sit under her desk in her office for a given time), and generally creating something beautiful for a place that is very special to me.

What made it even better was the positive feedback that we got from the school, parents and old girls. A happy client is a wonderful thing.

So ja. I like this whole liking what you do thing. It’s working for me.

st ks

[Feature image source]