Strike a Rock August 09, 2018 08:30
Internationally, Women's Day is supposed to be about celebrating the social, economic, political and cultural achievement of women, which I find to be a bit patronising - how surprising!
But it does also draw attention to issues such as violence against women and gender inequality in various spheres of life.
Mostly though, it's been diluted into a type of second Mother's Day, with a few nice retail discounts and a pleasant day off work.
I love our South African Women's Day in that it is a commemoration of a truly outstanding achievement by women.
Pretoria, 9 August 1956
Risking arrest and detention, about 20 000 women from all around the country marched to the Union Buildings.
Organised by FSAW (Federation of South African Women) and led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams, they delivered a petition outlining their frustrations with the proposed pass laws (the Urban Areas Act), restricting access to certain urban areas.
After laying the bundles of petitions at the door of the prime minister JG Strydom, the massive crowd stood in silence for a full thirty minutes. Before departing they sang a song composed for the occasion,“Wathint’ abafazi, Strijdom!”
When you strike the women,
you strike a rock,
you will be crushed [you will die]!
The phrase "When you strike a woman, you strike a rock" has since come to represent women's courage and strength in South Africa.
The march was a resounding success, described by many as a moving and emotional experience.
My Reading List for Women's Month August 03, 2018 09:00
I'm exploring themes of women and feminism this month, and as always, I start my research with books.
Here's what I've gathered based on reviews from Goodreads.
Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend any others?
Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely do justice to the pioneering vision and lasting impact of The Feminine Mystique. Published in 1963, it gave a pitch-perfect description of “the problem that has no name”: the insidious beliefs and institutions that undermined women’s confidence in their intellectual capabilities and kept them in the home. Writing in a time when the average woman first married in her teens and 60 percent of women students dropped out of college to marry, Betty Friedan captured the frustrations and thwarted ambitions of a generation and showed women how they could reclaim their lives. Part social chronicle, part manifesto, The Feminine Mystique is filled with fascinating anecdotes and interviews as well as insights that continue to inspire. This 50th–anniversary edition features an afterword by best-selling author Anna Quindlen as well as a new introduction by Gail Collins.
By Audre Lorde
A collection of fifteen essays written between 1976 and 1984 gives clear voice to Audre Lorde's literary and philosophical personae. These essays explore and illuminate the roots of Lorde's intellectual development and her deep-seated and longstanding concerns about ways of increasing empowerment among minority women writers and the absolute necessity to explicate the concept of difference—difference according to sex, race, and economic status. The title Sister Outsider finds its source in her poetry collection The Black Unicorn (1978). These poems and the essays in Sister Outsider stress Lorde's oft-stated theme of continuity, particularly of the geographical and intellectual link between Dahomey, Africa, and her emerging self.
What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.
With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.
Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.
She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”
This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
By Roxane Gay
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
Homemade Body Products July 27, 2018 00:00
I love supporting South African small businesses, but I love making my own things even more.
There's something so satisfying about making your own beauty products. It feels like you're taking extra special care of yourself by carefully selecting ingredients and choosing your perfect fragrance.
I am not qualified in any way to make body products. These are just some very simple recipes I use for myself after some research and trial and error. Maybe they'll also work for you!
To start off with, find a few great essential oils you love. You need to test these on your skin to make sure they don't cause an allergic reaction and perhaps it's a good idea to check with your medical practitioner before continuing if you're afraid you might have an adverse reaction to them.
I have some family and friends in the States, so I'm lucky enough to get DoTerra oils which are incredibly pure and can even be taken orally. I also use Soil organic essential oils, a proudly South African brand.
My favourites are grapefruit, bergamot, lavender, black pepper, cedar wood and citrus bliss. Depending on my mood, I'll open smell them all and then just decide which I'm drawn to on that day, and mix them accordingly. Most of the ones I like are mood enhancers.
I've played around with so many variations with this one, using avocado, grapeseed, coconut, almond and olive, but in the end, my favourite is just the simplest.
I pour some extra virgin olive oil into a glass spray bottle I saved, throw in my essential oils and voila! I have perfectly moisturised hands and cuticles immediately.
I find the olive oil sinks into the skin beautifully after just a few minutes, and the effects definitely last the longest for me.
Hand And Body Exfoliator
Melt some coconut oil in a saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the stove and add an equal part of fine Himalayan salt, and your favourite essential oils.
Let everything cool and then pop it into the fridge for the coconut oil to solidify.
Once it's solid, whip it up with a hand beater. The air you beat into it makes it much easier to use.
Decant it into a glass jar and use as needed! The salt exfoliates and the coconut oil helps moisturise as well. Double whammy!
Luxurious Body Butter
Melt equal parts shea butter, cocoa butter and olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat and remove.
Add your fav oils.
Wait for it to cool and then pop it into the fridge to solidify. It might take quite a bit longer for this to happen than with the exfoliator.
Whip it with a hand beater and decant into a glass jar.
This mixture has saved my skin from the dry Jozi Winter. I can't do without it!
Do you have any special lotions or potions you make for yourself? I'd love to try your recipes!
Pets and Self-Care July 19, 2018 19:10
I recently had to put my cat Audrey down. She was 14 years old and had massive tumours on her kidneys.
She was really thin when I came back from my trip, and seemed to gain weight in the week after I returned, but her health just suddenly deteriorated.
I was an awful way to start the week having to make such a decision, but I'm really glad the option was available to me. She was so ill and I could see she was in a lot of pain, so instead of putting her through more tests or surgery which would've ended with the same result, I stood with her while she quietly slipped away.
And even though I knew it was the right decision, watching the life drain out of her because of a decision I made was really awful. As they injected her I momentarily, but strongly, wanted to undo it.
This whole experience got me thinking about how our pets help support us emotionally, and how so much of my self-care is tied with taking care of them.
There's been a lot of press recently about people taking flights with their companion animals, most notably a woman's emotional support peacock was banned from a flight.
I understand that pets are a little different to companion or support animals, but I think they're just as valuable.
Google brings up hundreds of reasons why pets are beneficial to you. This is what I have found to be most beneficial in my life.
They Are Always Happy To See Me
No matter what your day was like. Whether you ran out in a hurry without saying goodbye, or if you were a little agitated when they insisted on sleeping on your legs, you are always greeted with joy.
I Am Always Happy To See Them
There's never any residual resentment or expectation. I feel free to love them wholeheartedly and without limitation, and that feeling alone is so liberating.
They Don't Judge Me
If you've had a spat of critique or feel like you can't seem to get things right, my pets have always reminded me that I am enough as I am. I don't need to change. I don't need to be more or less than I already am.
They Remind Me Of Simple Pleasures
Whenever I lose my way in the mire of adulting, they remind me of the pleasure of stroking their soft, velvety ears, or how soothing it is to have a cat purr on your lap, or the shared joy of a dog fetching a ball.
They simplify a complicated life by reminding me that just being in a moment is more than enough.
They Make The Best Company
Just knowing that another creature is around, makes me feel part of a little core family. I feel we belong to, and look after, each other.
They comfort me when I've had a bad day, because somehow they intuitively sense my mood.
Do you have pets? Have you found having pets enriches your life experience?
Hand Sewing You Can Do At Home July 12, 2018 16:42 1 Comment
I was recently quite shocked to hear that many friends simply discard a shirt if a button pops off, or will throw out a dress if the hem is no longer on trend.
These are such simple things to fix, and getting rid of a perfectly good blouse seems excessive if there's just a button missing.
So in the spirit of reducing waste and making things last, here is a quick tutorial.
Stitching A Button
Small pair of scissors
Of course if you can save the original button, that would be ideal. Otherwise you'll have to get one of the same size and similar in colour and style to the others, just to avoid replacing all the buttons. I suggest taking along the shirt to a fabric store or haberdashery and test that the button fits comfortably through the button hole.
Unroll about 30-40cm of thread in a matching colour to the thread used for the other buttons. If it's too long it may get tangled and knotted, and then you'll have to start from the beginning again.
Thread it through the eye of the needle and join the two ends, making a knot.
Stick the needle through from the back of the fabric and through the button hole. If there are 2 holes you'l go up through one, and down through the other. Keep sticking the needle through the fabric and the holes in the button about 5-6 times.
Wind the thread around the bottom of the button about 3 times, catch a few fibres of the fabric and pull the needle through most of the way, but leaving a loop of thread big enough to put the needle through. This creates a knot. Pull the thread tight and repeat.
Trim off the excess and you're done!
Taking Up A Hem
Measure to exactly where you want the hem to fall. It's best to ask someone to help you with this as if you bend forward to mark it off, it'll end up way too short when you stand up straight again.
Measure from the bottom up and drop about 3 cm lower that you actually want it to be. This leaves room for the hem allowance.
Measure it ALL around the hem line very carefully before cutting it off. It's best to use sharp fabric scissors for this.
Working with the garment inside out, fold up 1cm from the bottom and press it between your fingers. Then using your hair straightener you can iron it flat all the way around.
Keeping that crease, fold it up a further 2cm and iron it flat.
Cut off 30-40cm of thread in a colour that matches the fabric, and thread it through the needle, tying a knot.
Stick the needle into the first crease you made so the knot is buried in the hem allowance and pull through.
Catch 1-2 fibres from the fabric, then stick the needle into the hem allowance fold, exiting it about 5mm further on.
Keep repeating this slip stitch till the whole hem has been stitched. Finish it off by making a double knot, the same as when you finished off the button.
You should barely be able to see the stitches from the front if you're using matching thread.
My Time Away July 02, 2018 18:16 2 Comments
I recently closed my online store to take a much needed holiday. My assistant was busy with exams and I felt I wouldn't be giving myself the full benefit of time away if I was always trying to deal with orders and queries.
Some of you may know that my husband passed away nearly 2 years ago and it's been a long, hard journey to get back to "real life" so to speak, in between dealing with grief and the mind-blowing (and -numbing) amount of paperwork involved with rounding up an estate.
Well, after more than a year and a half, it's finally done. While I'd been pushing to wrap everything up, when it finally happened, I felt at a bit of a loss actually.
I knew I had to take a lovely trip somewhere and start creating memories on my own and of my own, which is why I thought I'd walk the Camino. I just did the minimum amount in order to receive my Compostela, a certificate which states you have walked it. But the minimum is still over 100km.
I did this over 5 days.
I'm really fit, and while I didn't take it lightly, I certainly didn't expect to struggle as much as I did. My joints gave me trouble with every step, and my hiking boots that have felt like walking on clouds for the past few hikes, suddenly decided to bruise and squeeze in places that are still bruised and squeezed, more than a week later.
It was beautiful though. It winds through forests and hamlets lined with wild flowers and rosebushes in such full bloom that they droop over the pathways, perfuming the way.
I spent the time in introspection, just listening to my breath and trying to focus my mind beyond the pain.
I also spent a bit of time with my sisters in the UK, which felt like a giant hug. They have been so supportive and caring through this whole process.
There's a feeling of finality about having the estate completed. Not that one can put a time limit on grief because everyone's process is different, and honestly I don't think it ever leaves you. You simply adjust your life and heart around it and so managing it gets easier. But I have this question that won't leave me be:
I find myself a bit adrift once again. A bit untethered and unfocused having such a large part of the journey behind me now.
But I guess that's all part of the process.
Back to sleeping, dreaming and creating, which really is quite awesome in itself.
Walking Books June 22, 2018 00:00 1 Comment
I'm a crazy happy reader. I'm always reading several books at once. A spiritual or self-help, a novel and an audio book are always competing for my attention.
I'm away walking the Camino, so I haven't wanted anything too heavy - literally and figuratively :). More about the Camino another time...
This is what has been accompanying me.
The Language of Flowers By Vanessa Diffenbaugh
This was a lovely, easy read about a young girl with a troubled childhood who is taken in by a florist, Renata, to help work in the store.
The best part of the book however, is that flowers themselves almost become characters in their own right.
It delves into the Victorian meanings of flowers and what they say when arranged together. One could give a bunch of flowers or a posy, and everything would be said by the flowers themselves. No note required.
Simply a lovely book.
Born A Crime By trevor Noah
I got this on audible, narrated by Trevor himself, and found it IMPOSSIBLE to stop once I'd started.
It covers his life in a township and anecdotes from his life that paint such a vivid picture, you almost feel you're right there with him.
I know I'll listen to this again and again. It makes me miss home terribly listening to all the stories.
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
This one is next on my list to read.
The book got mixed reviews so I'm not really sure what to expect except a lot of erotica by the sounds of it.
So What Are You Actually Paying For? June 15, 2018 00:00
Sometimes it's just so much cheaper and more convenient to pop off to the mall and buy a set of pjs. I did this myself for many years.
If you have ever sewed anything yourself, it might have crossed your mind how it can be possible to pay around R500 for a full set of pjs, when you take into account the price of fabric and trim, and the colossal amount of time it takes to stitch it up.
Try to imagine the life of a person working for a fast fashion company. Imagine how little you must get paid and under what appalling conditions you would work in to get clothing that cheap.
And in the end, who benefits from your money? Usually a nameless, faceless corporation.
Let me break down for you what you pay for when you buy a Claudia Moruzzi pyjama set.
Wholesale fabric is certainly less than what you'd pay at your local haberdashery, but it is still expensive. If you take into account that a kimono uses nearly three and a half metres of fabric, this starts adding up.
Depending on the type of fabric and the quality, prices vary greatly. For my range, fabric generally costs between R50.00-R75.00 per metre. Of this fabric, some of it will have tiny flaws which needs to be discarded, pushing the average price up higher depending on how much needs to be ditched.
Buttons cost about R2.00 per button, excluding the fabric used to cover them. Each garment has between 8-12 buttons, and an extra one stitched inside in case one gets lost and needs to be replaced.
The piping used to trim my Winter range costs just over R3.00 per metre - more if I pick custom colours like I did with my last collection. Each garment can use up to 6 or 7 metres of piping.
Certain pieces of fabric that need reinforcement so they don't become misshapen like collars and button stands, need to be fused. This can be done very cheaply with paper fusing, but I've opted for a better quality, softer, woven fusing which is about quadruple the price of paper fusing.
Add that to labels, elastic and wash/cares, and you're looking at about another R50.00.
The construction of the garment depends on the intricacy of the design, the time it takes, how easy the fabric is to work with, and weirdly, how many buttonholes each garment has, as these are done by a specialist.
Here the sky is the limit. I've paid anywhere between R90.00 and R300.00 per garment, but the average is R170.00. It is easy to find somewhere that manufactures ridiculously cheap, but the trouble is that the workers aren't adequately reimbursed, and here, you certainly get what you pay for. Where a garment is hastily and cheaply put together, you can be sure it'll fall apart pretty soon.
With the garment finished, we can now start adding on general costs like packaging, social media marketing and advertising, model fees, shoot location fees, photography, research and salaries.
Whatever is leftover after all of that, gets reinvested for future collections and new exciting designs.
Why Buy Local? June 08, 2018 09:00
There's a lot of fuss about supporting local business but why should you? What is the benefit to you anyway?
Of course this is a subject close to my heart, being a small local business. But the bug to support locally had bitten way before I launched in 2015.
I remember spending a lot of money on items of clothing, homeware, gifts, etc. that were sometimes cheap, often not, and not really connecting with my purchases at all.
Not that I think one must have a strong connection to material possessions, but if you're going to be decorating your person or home, or getting a present for someone, then there should at least be a sense of appreciation and gratitude for that thing.
I wasn't getting that from anything I bought. Unless it was so expensive that I'd saved for months to get it, it could've been replaced as easily as I'd bought it.
When I got my first South African designer dress, I was completely smitten with the fact that I'd met the designer. She was a real live person, and I could imagine her working on the design and putting so much passion into every aspect.
I still have and treasure that dress today, 6 years later.
I want you to have the same feeling every time you wear your Claudia Moruzzi design.
I want you to know that every inch of fabric has been examined for flaws. I want you to know that every person behind the pjs has a name and a family they support by stitching your kimono.
I want you to know that I pay so much attention to detail, that I sometimes dream of covered buttons.
I want you to appreciate that every person along the way has been paid a fair fee for their skills, and that there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude every time another order comes through.
Photo credit: Peter Driessel Photography
A Journey From My Dreams To Yours June 01, 2018 00:00
As a designer, only a very small portion of my time is spent actually designing because being a small business owner as well, there are so many things that require attention.
Here's a little breakdown of how your PJs make their way from my dreams, to yours.
About twice a year, I sit down and sketch some designs. This usually happens many months before you eventually see them online.
I usually draw around 20-30 versions per style, before finally deciding which one I like best.
These sketches are then translated into technical drawings which get handed over to my pattern maker. While I can make my own patterns by hand, old-school style, (uber time-consuming) I don't have software in which to capture it. I've discovered it's just much more efficient to send it off to be made up.
In the meantime I get some plain fabric and trim similar to what I intend using, and send that along with the sample pattern to my manufacturer.
The process from handing over the technical drawings to receiving the sample, can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.
When I get the completed sample back, there's a process of fitting and refining to get it absolutely perfect.
Once everything is just right, the pattern gets graded into different sizes.
While that's on the go, I can finally go choose fabric and trim (love). I decide on a colour palette and search throughout the country to find pretty fabrics that feel like heaven against the skin.
We are finally ready to manufacture. This can take anywhere from between 2-6 weeks.
While all this is going on, I'm also busy setting up lifestyle shoots for social media, responding to comments, emails and queries.
I manage my own pages and really love this part to be honest. It takes a massive amount of time, but I feel I can connect much better with you when it's my voice you hear directly through my images, videos and captions.
Once the manufacturing is complete, I pick my models and set up the studio catalogue shoot for all the images on the website.
As soon as I receive the pics back from my photographer and friend, Peter Driessel, I load them online. Surprise, surprise! I manage my own site!
I try to send out a newsletter once a month or so to keep you updated on any specials, pop-ups and new styles, and once a collection is ready for you to shop, I definitely want to share the news!
All your orders come directly to me, and either I or my assistant, Precious, packages your items. I adore this part, so she doesn't often get a chance to do it unless I'm out of town :)
In between all of this craziness, I still manage to walk my dog every week day as well.
That's it in a nutshell.
Who Made My Sleepwear? May 21, 2018 12:50
I'm so thrilled with all the campaigns encouraging awareness around the fashion industry.
In the spirit of this, I thought I'd take you behind the scenes to where your sleepwear is manufactured.
It is a small factory which takes pride in developing skills from scratch, and whose machinists have been there for many years.
Roderick is a general assistant, but deals mainly with cutting and fusing. Many collar and cuff fabric pieces need to be reinforced with an iron-on fusing so they don't go out of shape.
He has a wife and a 4 year old boy.
Paulina with the hundred-watt smile has been a machinist for 6 years now. She stitches the fabric and trimmings together.
She has a husband and 3 children aged 18, 11 and 1.
Paulina has one child - a 7 year old boy who has recently started school.
She is shy and soft-spoken, but has a very serious job: She's quality control! Everything has to pass her strict standards before coming back to me. She's been doing this for 5 years.
Ismael and Alfred
Ismael (left) is the grandpa of the business. Generally the second in command at the factory, he's been doing this for 26 years! He has a wife, 5 children and 2 grandchildren.
Alfred (right) has been cutting for 3 years and has 2 children, aged 7 and 4.
They both deal with pattern markers and cutting of fabric.
Abbie is a machinist, so stitches and overlocks raw edges. He works at the speed of light - he's been doing this for 18 years.
He has a wife and 2 kids.
Dima, the production manager, is a designer herself, and after struggling with other manufacturers (every designers' bug bear), discovered she was really passionate about being involved with a company that offered excellent service and delivered on time.
Wendy is the doyenne of this initiative. A kind-hearted soul who has been in the business for decades. For now she deals more with training and client liaison.
Photo credits: Peter Driessel Photography
To ALL The Mothers May 11, 2018 00:00
Mothers are incredible creatures. I've often heard them say that their hearts beat outside their bodies, in their children's chests. It amazes me how selfless and unconditional that sort of love is.
But I don't think it's biology alone that makes a mother. There are so many who become mothers to pets, pupils, and patients, and that love and relationship can be as real as any connected by blood.
So this is a shout out to all mothers out there - to everyone who loves another being unconditionally, cares deeply about them and feels a mystical connection with them. Whether this is a child by blood or adoption, with or without fur.
You are appreciated.
Your love is recognised.
Your love is real.
Photo credit: Peter Driessel Photography
Burn the pretty candles, use the good crockery and wear the lovely pyjamas. April 26, 2018 13:07
I love interacting with buyers and overhearing their conversations. It is invaluable to me in terms of refining designs and collections – yes I actually do take on board what is being said!
But I also often hear things that make me sad. Things like:
“My husband won’t want to see me in something that sexy.”
“I can only get that playsuit when I’ve lost at least 5kg.”
“ I wouldn’t sleep in something so nice.”
I always wonder why. Why do we buy pretty candles and amazing crockery, so that they can gather dust waiting for that special occasion that never arrives? Why would we only buy good clothes to wear in front of other people, instead of investing in something that makes us feel treasured, even when no one is looking?
Is it a case of believing that we need to wear a mask, so different to who we are in private? Or is it that we have a deep-seated belief that we’re unworthy of beauty?
Alexander Wang is quoted as saying, “Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their days off that is most intriguing.”
I would say that while fashion is a form of self-expression, it isn’t a true reflection of who we believe ourselves to be. How you treat yourself in your most intimate space is the most telling.
Beauty and happiness is your birthright, and is a choice we make. So burn the pretty candles, use the lovely crockery.
Wear the lovely pyjamas.
Photo credit: Pieter Driessel Photogrpahy
New Things Are Coming! January 23, 2018 15:13
Just a little preview of what I've been up to and what to expect for Valentine's Day. Can't wait to show you everything!
South African Brands I'm Loving Right Now December 29, 2017 09:00
At some point in my life, shopping became known as research, so I feel no guilt when I'm at a market and have to browse around, doing very important "research".
I love meeting the people behind brands and knowing something about the person responsible for creating things I buy.
Here are two brands I fell in love with at Kamers Irene.
This year I met Adhiambo Mula (Adhi) from Galago. The name comes from the scientific name of the "bush baby" and like the animal, they are intrinsically fun, quirky and African.
They have a variety of shoe styles, including pumps, plimsolls and some incredibly striking espadrilles, but they're probably best known for their "build your own" sandals.
Sourcing beautiful leathers and vibrant fabrics, and handcrafting them in multiple ways, they provide great combinations for you to create your very own, custom sandal.
In our conversations, I've tried to convince her of the virtues of slippers, so I'm crossing fingers and toes that there are some bright shweshwe slippers sometime in the future!
Leefi was inspired by family and founded in 2015. The name is derived from the owner Odette whose parents call her Lefie (Afrikaans) which means life. She is now joined by her sister Sulandè and together they create eco-friendly cork handbags and accessories.
Simple, Handmade Christmas Gifts December 21, 2017 07:00
I close my online orders today for the festive season, but don't despair if you haven't got gifts for everyone. There's hope yet!
My parents never wanted to spoil me growing up, so I very rarely got toys and pretty things like my friends. Sounds kinda sad, but it isn't really.
I ended up spending hours making the things I wanted instead, and quickly realised that I much preferred the process of making, than of having.
So in that spirit, here are a few ideas for some thoughtful handmade gifts:
This cordial is so delicious and you can control the sweetness by adding more or less to sparkling or still water. I've packaged mine in little individual portion bottles, but obviously you can package them in whatever size cute bottle you can find.
I have an obsession with glass jars and bottles and cannot bring myself to throw any out, so they come in very handy when I can reuse them for gifts.
Here's the recipe:
Juice and rind of 12 lemons
3 tsp each citric acid; tartaric acid; epsom salts
2.5l hot water (not boiling)
Mix all together in a giant container (I use my biggest pot), and leave overnight. Decant in the morning.
I don't drink alcohol, but I believe it's also delicious with a shot of vodka.
Paper tissues have loads of little fibres that can irritate your nose. I love using washable hankies, old school style!
It's kinder to the environment and you can make them really pretty quite easily.
I used some scraps of really good quality, soft cotton I had lying around. You can make them as big as you like, but I find that a good size is 25cm squares.
Cut your fabric to whichever size you like. Then using your machine on a narrow and short zigzag stitch, make a rolled hem all around the raw edges. This means that the needle will go into the fabric on one side and then off on the other. It'll fold the fabric and neaten up the edge. You might need to play around with a few scraps to get the size and tension just right.
The using a small zigzag, stitch your lace all the way around. You can go as elaborate as you like! I've opted to use some leftover Anglaise from my first collection.
Victorians were obsessed with digestions and so developed this delicious and (relatively) healthy biscuit for tea. I can't really vouch for the accuracy of their theory, but I love that they're not overly sweet and feel quite substantial when you eat them.
1 1/2 Cups wholewheat flour
1/3 cup oat flour. If you don't have, you can just throw a half cup of oats into your food processor and blitz until it's flour.
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup treacle sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
+- 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
Mix everything together except the milk. Then slowly add until there's a non-sticky paste consistency.
Roll dough to 3mm thickness. Cut using cute cookie cutters. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180 degrees celsius for 15-20 minutes.
If you enjoy them with chocolate, melt a slab of good quality dark chocolate in a double boiler. Cool til it thicken to a consistency where it'll still pour, but not run off your cookie.
Happy making! I'd love to hear how you went with your handmade gifts and what ideas you have for others!
Gift Guide: Sister December 15, 2017 07:00
I'm the eldest of 3 girls and my sisters moved to the UK around 10 years ago. I've only seen them intermittently over the years and no matter how hard I've tried to keep updated, life always gets in the way at some point, and I lose touch for a while.
It feels like there are massive gaps in my sister archives, especially since they left before social media was a thing.
Needless to say, I miss them terribly. I would love to wake up on Christmas morning and hop into bed with them and exchange gifts. (Can you still do that in your 40's?)
So in the absence of my real sisters, I stole a set of twins for this shoot. Zoe and Erica are 16 years old and such warm, friendly young women.
They actually belong to someone really special to me, who was present at the time of my husband's passing, and with whom I now share a living space. Makeshift families are a real thing!
I found an amazing artist who's work I have had my eye on for over a year. I was so happy when she agreed to collaborate with me on this Sleepy T project. They make perfect gifts for sisters!
They come in these nifty little boxes...
...which are made from sugarcane which are compostable and can degrade in as little as a month.
Even though the artist, Thea, from Mist Collectibles, has never met my cat Audrey, I swear she modelled Moon Cat on her!
So if your sister is around, open this box of loveliness with her this Christmas, or order it separately and have it couriered to her door.
Then hold her tight and tell her how much you love her.
Gift Guide: Mom December 08, 2017 07:51 1 Comment
I've noticed the older I get, the less I want stuff just for the sake of it. I'm really happy to just get a hug or a catch up over a cup of tea for any occasion, instead of something just for the sake of it.
But what I always love is something shared: whether it's an experience, or some item that has significance to me and the giver.
As part of this blog post, I thought it would be nice to do a shoot with my mom in matching pyjamas. I had the idea that if we both wore similar sleepwear, we would go to bed and wake up with happy thoughts of each other.
But it turns out the shoot ended up being a gift in itself. My mom lives about an hour away from me and in the chaos that is life, she doesn't really know much about my day to day life. It was so wonderful to have her step into my world and share a small slice of what goes on in my working day.
The lovely Peter Dreissel took these pics at his studio and he has packages for mom and daughter portraits. We had so much fun doing this shoot, I'd highly recommend you give it a try!
Family Tradition: Matching Festive PJs December 01, 2017 07:33
I know, I know: super cheesy. And yet, there's something I find so appealing. There's something that just says: we're in this crazy world together. Let's fill it with our own, special brand of crazy.
Firstly, there's no one to witness your shame as you waltz around in a ridiculous two-piece. It's just you and your immediate family. And if you can't be silly with your family, who can you be silly with?
Secondly, it's that feeling of togetherness, that team spirit. You have each others' backs. So often we're butting heads with our family - there's always a little drama or annoyance that won't go away. Your uniform is a visual reminder of who's on your team.
I have dreams of a family strewn on the couch, eating popcorn and drinking hot chocolate, not knowing where one begins and another ends. A tangible feeling of togetherness.
I can think of nothing better than waking up on Christmas day in a bed with excited children bouncing up and down, opening Christmas gifts in matching PJs. Heaven.
Be Kind To Yourself November 17, 2017 08:23
We have many tools at our disposal to make ourselves feel better on a physical or material level. When we feel we need to nurture ourselves, what springs to mind are little treats and spoils, eating healthily and exercising.
However, the very need to be kinder towards yourself usually stems from anxiety or stress, and when it comes to mental health, we don’t really know what to do. We generally ignore warning signs and only ever seek help when we can no longer function properly anymore, and we go into crisis.
I spoke to counseling psychologist, Lorenzo Stride, about his tips for being truly kind to yourself.
“Pay attention to your body as emotions somatise in the body.”
Inexplicable stomach aches, heart palpitations, sleeplessness and sweaty hands that your doctor can’t diagnose, may be an indication of anxiety or stress. Of course there comes a point when you need to see a professional, but in the meantime, here’s what you can do to help yourself.
Journaling is something that has helped his patients tremendously, and I completely agree. It externalizes feelings we generally bottle up inside and gives them somewhere to go. It helps you unpack your emotions and understand them better. It’s a way to really explore a so-called negative emotion and express it without the danger of unnecessarily hurting someone or harming a relationship.
If you are angry with someone, it’s a great idea to journal before confronting them so that when the time comes, the situation is much less emotionally charged and can be dealt with more constructively.
Take care of your body and physical appearance
Besides the benefits of fresh air, exercise and a healthy diet, taking care of your body reinforces the belief that you are worthy of being taken care of – that you have value. If you value yourself, you are less likely to engage in behaviour that is inauthentic or destructive.
Find a friend to talk to
But find the right friend to talk to. Someone who is calm, neutral, and most importantly, will be gently honest with you. Someone who won’t encourage damaging actions, but who will support a reasonable way of thinking, and even lovingly point out where perhaps you haven’t behaved at your best.
Understand how you best replenish your energy
Different things are energizing for different people. I cannot imagine anything better than spending an evening totally alone at home. But then, I’m deeply introverted. An extrovert, for example, would need to spend time with a large group of people to feel invigorated.
By understanding what depletes you, you can give yourself precisely what you need to replenish your resources.
Don’t pretend to be ok
While wallowing is not helpful and will likely frustrate everyone around you, pretending you’re ok when you’re not is simply being dishonest with yourself and your loved ones. When you have an infection, you take an antibiotic. If you’ve broken your leg, no one expects you to “get over it”. If you have kidney stones you don’t make-believe they’re there. The same should apply to your state of mind.
Recognise there’s a problem and then take steps towards healing.
Ways We're Mean To Ourselves November 10, 2017 09:00
I have been practicing pole dance for a few years already and love the strength required to make this art look effortless and beautiful. I was lucky to come across Vertical Vixen in Northriding for a number of reasons.
Firstly the focus is on safe practice since pole dancing can be risky if you don’t train sensibly. But perhaps even more important than this, the studio has a feeling of supportiveness and acceptance – an essential atmosphere when you consider that you will likely be wearing a crop top and shorts for the whole class.
This is no mean feat in such a competitive industry, and it’s largely thanks to owner, Julie Fowler, who recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of opening the studio.
Pole dance is athletic and sexy, and taps into so many insecurities. Often, it’s not that we lack the strength to master a trick, but rather the mental strength to overcome our hang-ups.
In order to create a happy training environment, Julie is hyper aware of our negative self talk. In her ten years running the studio, she’s heard all the many ways we put ourselves down and hold ourselves back.
- We don’t believe in our own abilities, we self-doubt before trying or we give up before attempting anything.
“What is the point, I know I won’t be any good.”
“I’m not strong enough.”
“I am not fit enough.”
“I am not thin enough.”
“I’m too fat.”
If we only gave ourselves half a chance…
- We are always critical of ourselves – from our weight, shape & size to the clothing we wear etc.
- We compare ourselves to others and then we are unhappy with what we see.
- We feel that something external will make us happy – fitness /
clothing / losing weight / buying those new shoes, but happiness really does stem from within.
We evolve all the time, true self love will keep you happy in a body that may not be strong, that may not be the same shape as that model in the magazine. True self love lets you know “its ok to be you”.
We do not embrace our own uniqueness, and struggle to love ourselves honestly.
- We shy away from our own bodies / from ourselves – we cover up and hide under layers of “stuff” we think will keep us safe. This could be emotions / personality traits alongside the clothing that we wear and the people we chose to share our space with. If we share space with people who really don’t care about us then we never really have to reveal our true selves.
Being aware of these things is important so we can recognize them for what they are, which is the first step towards choosing a more constructive train of thought.
Love yourself. Love others. Just dance.
Julie has been at the forefront of bringing pole dance out of the shadows and into the mainstream in South Africa. It is due to the collective efforts of such special instructors all over the world that pole dance is now well on it's way to being recognized as a sport.
Loving Local: The History Of Your Favourite Prints And Styles November 03, 2017 08:53
We live in a dynamic and boldly colourful country, and these qualities are reflected in our local trends. Being interested in history, I thought I’d dig into the past a little to see where our favourite trends originated.
Basotho Heritage Blankets
Recently Louis Vuitton appropriated this trend, selling them for a cool R33k, and regardless of your feelings on this, one can see why this style would hit the international arena.
Almost 100% wool to protect the wearer from the elements, they are made with bold colours featuring various symbols. The most widely used is that of the corncob which signifies fertility and wealth.
Most uniquely, there’s a pinstripe that runs through the fabric that’s about 1cm wide. This was originally a flaw in the weave, which was simply left as is and is now characteristic of these beautiful blankets. When worn traditionally, the strip runs vertically, signifying growth.
Their origin can be traced back to one incident where a European trader presented the then king with a woolen blanket, which he preferred to his leopard skin karosses. At the time there had been many natural distaters which continued through the 20th century, leaving the wildlife and livestock depleted, and not enough ways to keep warm in the Mountain Kingdom. The woolen blankets replaced the usually animal skin karosses and became a part of everyday life.
The denim or tartan of South Africa, this fabric gets its name from King Moshoeshoe, also spelled Moshweshwe, who popularized it in the 1840s.
Originally dyed indigo, it is characterized by its intricate, geometric patterns.
Traditionally used to make skirts, dresses, aprons and wrap around garments, you can now find designers using this fabric in countless applications.
It is printed on 100% cotton using an acid discharge and roller printing technique on a fabric width of around 90cm. There are many knock-offs out there, but the original can be recognized by feel, smell, taste, colour, logos and starching which washes out.
When it comes to ethnic inspiration, there’s probably nothing more widely used in fashion than beadwork. Beautiful, striking and colourful, it’s easy imagine this traditional adornment being incorporated into any collection.
People have struggled to classify African beadwork as either art, craft or communicational system. It clearly requires a certain amount of craftsmanship to construct these elaborate accessories, but they’re also worn for their aesthetic beauty and to convey a person’s social standing.
The art/craft/language is thought to have originated thousands of years ago, but there’s no hard evidence to its source. The earliest artifacts were found near Cape Town and pre-date the African Bead Trade era by around 75000 years.
They’ve been made from bone, shell and seeds, and more recently from glass and plastic.
5 Effortless Acts Of Kindness October 27, 2017 09:00 1 Comment
I teach hatha yoga and attend philosophy classes at the Sivananda School of Yoga and my journey there has seen me grow and change dramatically from the wild, twenty-something girl that first joined.
I feel so fortunate to have found somewhere that I feel accepted and nurtured, and a place whose teachings and philosophies resonate with me.
Through all of my life changes, this was a place I experienced such kindness, which to this day still takes me by surprise. With my theme for November being Ubuntu, the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity, I thought it fitting to speak to one of the residents of the ashram, Swami Karunananda, about kindness.
Here are her 5 effortless acts of kindness:
“BE the embodiment of love."
This I found needed a bit more explanation because it’s really hard to know how to do this, when one can’t even define love. She simply answered; “Find love within yourself and radiate it to all.”
While this is still very tricky to maintain throughout the day, those few moments that you can find that state of upliftment are really quite euphoric.
“SAY only kind words.”
This is something I struggle with often, but I find that taking a deep breath before reacting or responding, has prevented much unnecessary upset.
“THINK only kind thoughts.”
Yes sometimes in conflict situations and when you’re rushing to get someplace on time, it’s very difficult to think charitably about the person in front of you, but it’s important to remember that everyone is on their own journey that you know very little about. What they present to you isn’t necessarily their truth. Thinking bad thoughts says more about the person thinking them.
“LOOK beautiful – smile!”
This world can be a hostile place and seeing a friendly smile can do wonders for restoring faith in humanity.
“LISTEN to others.”
We all have a need to be heard, possibly more than anything else. Not to feel invisible and insignificant. Really listening, without simply waiting to respond, is one of the kindest things you can do.
Do you have any ways you like to show kindness?
Ways To Cover Up At The Beach October 19, 2017 13:15 1 Comment
There can be no doubt that South Africans love their December beach holidays, and preparing your beach wardrobe is essentially important.
I love waking up, throwing on a swimsuit and cover up and heading out for the day to explore and laze around.
But with sand and sun, I find my skin gets very sensitive and I really cannot bear synthetic or hard fabrics rubbing against me. This is where sleepwear comes to the rescue.
Here are a few of my sleepwear/beachy hacks.
This nightie is so lightweight that it just makes sense to put it over sun-warmed skin. Your pretty bikini can shine through, but you'll still be covered and ready for a cocktail.
It'll dry quick as a flash and folds up really small so will hardly take up space in your bag.
The Amy Kimono
For a more glamorous look, you could throw on the Amy kimono. This will give you more cover from the harsh sun, but will drape beautifully around you, keeping you cool.
In addition to being glamorous, you could also be silly and pretend to be a butterfly.
These pretty kimonos are currently only available on direct order while stocks last, so email me for more details: email@example.com.
The shorty pyjamas are a no-brainer. Simply pop the shorts on if you need to stroll from the beach to get an ice-cream.
These shorts are great for a full range of movement: jumping, twirling and cartwheeling.
4. The Briana Night Dress
Made from 100% cotton, this is a soft, romantic way to complete your beach look. Sheer and absorbent, this nightie will catch the breeze as it whips around you.
These lightweight night dresses are currently only available on direct order, so email me for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org. Available sizes are XS, S, M, L, XL, while stocks last.
Photo credit: Peter from Boudoir Fusion Photography
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