Creative Business Tips: Dealing with Competition

30 April 2014

In every industry there is competition, but within creative business it feels so much more personal. When we're faced with business competition it can feel like an attack. To make matters even more complicated the competition can often come from people within our work, market or creative community. It's tough and can cause worry, stress, self-doubt, unhappiness and even rage (yip, creatives get angry too). In one way or another, most creative business owners have experienced some form of competition, the key is to hold your own and to strive to always be your personal best. No need to go on a war path armed with scissors, knitting needles or your glue gun... read this instead:

Take a step back & stay calm:
Often, our natural instinct is to lash out, or phone our best friend and rant when our work is threatened. When you see it just stay calm, breathe and take a step back. Competition is viewed as a negative thing in most cases and the cliche about it being healthy doesn't help either. By not letting it run away with you - you can take it in, access it and decide how to direct your energy (ranting helps, but action is probably more useful).

Evaluate & reflect:
Understand what your competition is offering and which products and services encroach on your territory. Once you have a better understanding of this you can evaluate how to either up your game or even the playing field. Don't let self-doubt take over though, our natural instinct is to think that the competition must be better than us, when in fact its just different. I suggest you make a list of your strengths and the unique elements that make your business awesome. Things like creativity, great packaging, friendly service, excellent admin skills are things / skills that the competition might not possess.We all have something great to offer.

Get inspired & charged up:
Competition is the perfect thing to remind you to keep working at building your business. Use the threat as fuel to power you forward. I know this works really well for me - often, when I feel threatened I will feel charged up to try harder or follow through on plans I have been procrastinating on.

Now is the time to add a unique edge to your work. Don't get so swept up that you completely change your business or signature service / product. Rather, make time for innovating, adding inspiration and planning new offerings for your business. We all have unique thoughts and there is only one of you - no one can take that powerful tool away from you.

Keep your eye on the prize:
As you have travelled along your creative path, so you have had a vision of what it is that you want to achieve. Don't lose sight of that vision. Chances are it will be different from your competition. Don't let your competitor lead you down a path that isn't suited to your business. I always suggest that you keep your goals updated so that you know what it is that you are striving for. Through innovation and hard work you will steer towards new things naturally. 

Don't indulge in negativity:
It's human nature to wallow in negativity. Don't stalk your competition day in and day out. Rather check in every now and again and spend your time constructively, by working on your own business and ideas. 

I hope that these simple thoughts will keep you looking ahead and working on building the best business you possibly can! Even super successful creative businesses face competition, but through clever thinking (and a hint of professional grace) they stay on top.

The beautiful image is by Emma Block. Her work is whimsical and lovely.

Meet Free Monday #19

28 April 2014

28 April: A Day at HQ

I'm back and just like that our time away flew by! It was amazing and we really enjoyed being together, relaxing, eating too much and breathing in fresh sea air. We arrived back early on Friday and it felt like a bit of an anti-climax, but once I got settled at home and sorted out my thoughts - all felt better. Our aim for the weekend was to ease back into life and to settle into work so, we really didn't do much. Yesterday was our only day out as we ventured to Wonder Market, drank champagne, went for lunch and did some shopping (our fridge was rather empty). We finished off the day with a movie and couch time (personal fav). I think it only fair that after many days off I need to get back into the swing of things today. I like the feel of working on public holidays as it feels as if there is less pressure which results in more productivity. I'm very happy to be in the office today!

The Working Week in Review / Last Week:
So... as you know last week definitely didn't involve much work, but I did spend last weekend lining up updates, posts, emails and client projects for the time I was away. It really made me realise that by planning ahead I could get so much more done freeing up additional time. I would like to see how I can adopt this way of planning into the business further. Of course I plan ahead, but often work on things as they happen, last week's scheduling meant I was able to be out of the office - guilt free and all was taken care of.

The Working Week:
All these public holidays mean that work is a bit scrambled as most people are in permanent holiday mode (I can't blame them). I do want to use this time wisely and get a few projects off our plate so that we can move forward and get May off to a cracking and productive start. Today I'm easing into work and enjoying being in my own space. I will be decorating this week's planner pages and writing my lists. I also plan to work on this week's thoughts and goals. I have mentioned in the past that I created a planner sheet and I use it as a weekly diary entry to comment on my mindset, thoughts and intent. Tomorrow, I want to get back to a normal work day - I have quite a bit to do which as usual involves emails, client projects, blog posts, client online updates and so on. I spent some time on the weekend mapping out a few new blog post topics and some business plans and I would like to develop these further.

Things I'm excited about this week:
I love being home! Holidays are amazing, but you know by now that I am such a homebody. I also have loads of packages to get out both snail mail related and client thank you gifts - my project table is full and I'm looking forward to sending them off. On another note organising for this year's Etsy Craft Party has kicked off - watch this space!

What will challenge me this week?
The false sense of holiday mode I still find myself in. I feel in a bit of a lull and at some point my brain needs to realise that we need to get going.

Personal Thoughts:
I started a project notebook a while ago, but to be honest I haven't really been keeping a tab on it. I want to sort out these projects today and fill out what needs doing with regards to home based projects. One of these tasks is storage within my wardrobe both for clothing and accessories. Daniel and my dad very kindly created a really lovely chest of drawers for me, but it is still empty as I'm thinking of how to best use it. I'm on the hunt for some lovely storage containers to aid the project, but I haven't found what I'm after (loving these options from 27Pinkx). With May kicking off this week I want to line-up a few new goals. I feel like this year is going way too fast and in a way it makes me realise that now is the time to achieve!

Do you have any personal projects you are working on?

*See other Meet Free Monday posts here.

This week's photo features:
Folder: Paperchase (love this print).
Paper Bird: From Paper Jet found at On a Whim in Joburg. He is a little magnet & lives in my office.
Little Dog, Buttons & Little Key: Vintage random finds.
Swallow Tin: Also a random vintage find - I really like this.

Popping In

24 April 2014

Time flies - I can't believe how fast this week is going and just how lucky we are to be aboard this beauty! 

Just a quick reminder to take in every moment and enjoy each and every one. I think we can get so side-tracked and we often feel as if we are running a race, through life, through each week and day. I fall into this mindset too - sometimes wishing away time in order to get through meetings or work so I can relax. Hurrying time along so that I can do as I please. The only thing is - those blissful moments like weekends, holidays and breaks fly by before we can quite grasp them. Technology also plays a part in stealing our time, energy, interest and the essence of living in the moment. My gran always used to remind me that a large part of the excitement lies in looking forward to something, as once you arrive it vanishes in front of your eyes. I couldn't agree more, but need to pay attention to not wishing away the boring moments, but to rather embrace them as a moment to be grateful for. 

I hope your week is full of beautiful moments.

*Photo via the MSC website.

On my Stationery Shopping List

I'm am waiting ever so patiently for the dollar to even out again so that I can place a few overseas online orders. I might be waiting in vain - sigh. On my current wishlist are these amazingly pretty (and useful) stamps from InspireLovely. Debbie, the shop owner has a fantastic and inspirational blog and her creativity is quite something. I think these stamps will add a new element to my snail mail as they are quite versatile - just look at Debbie's beautiful creations below! Be sure to take a look at her online shop and blog for a dose of mid-week crafty colour.

How to Style your Product Photos

22 April 2014

I'm always on the lookout for handy and useful creative business ideas, concepts or tips to share with you. This post on styling product photos recently caught my eye and I thought it would be ideal to share as I know it can be a difficult task. The post is short and sweet with a few valuable pieces of info from Holly a successful photographer. 

Bookmark and be sure to keep it as a reference for future product snapping - it's sure to be of value.

A Bon Voyage Meet Free Monday

21 April 2014

I hope your long weekend has been wonderful and what a great thought that today is a work free one too. Thank you so much for your feedback on last week's MFM post. I'm still deciding exactly how to run things, but it seems as if most people were in favour of keeping the series. My weekend was actually quite fun and social. I must admit I love the thought of no plans and sleeping in, but a change is as good as a holiday (the words of my gran). Thursday was a jam-packed work day between consulting sessions, errands and meetings. On Friday, we slept in and I worked for most of the morning and had to pop out to help a client. Daniel joined me and afterwards we went to Cafe Jiran for lunch. Their hot choc and toasted sandwiches are my favourite! We also took a walk to Bike and Bean. The weather in Durban at the moment is so beautiful - warm with no humidity. I fitted in a bit more work as well as relaxing after our outing. Saturday was spent with friends, first for breakfast at Vovo Telo and then at Gateway and Tashas. I had a few more things on my Winter shopping list and found exactly what I was after. Victory! I caught up with my parents and spent time sitting outside chatting and looking at the ocean. Sunday is French toast day, which is Daniel's speciality. A dear friend joined us and we had a delightful time chatting and catching up. The balance of the day was spent packing and working. Last week I mentioned a potential trip, but I wasn't sure if all would work out. The great and happy news is - it did and we are off on a five day cruise today! I'm so excited and spent hours planning my outfits and thinking of every possible thing we might need. The trip is a gift from my cousin who won it, but couldn't go. How exciting - I am beyond grateful! We won't have much signal and my laptop is staying at home so it will be a true break. I have a few posts scheduled for you to enjoy. Looking forward to sharing the trip with you upon our return.

I can therefore say, not only is today meet free, but the rest of the week too. Let me know how your week is looking post public holidays.

This week's photo features:
*Spot the bunnies - how apt. 
Wreck this Journal: Exclusive Books (such a fun concept).
Wooden Bunny: A lovely toy shop which is now closed (sadly).
White Bunny Clip: Gift, but I did see Mr Price Home had them for a while.
Bear Brooch: A gift from the lovely Claire who works with me - she brought it back from the Design Indaba expo earlier this year. It's from Trinket.
Camera Stamp: Etsy (sorry can't recall supplier).
Mini Scissors: Milnerton Market
Pencils: CNA

A Delayed Meet Free Monday: #17

15 April 2014

14 April: A Day at HQ
*Long post ahead...
Hello to you and hello This week's Meet Free Monday post is delayed due to the quick Kamers giveaway that I wanted to share. If I can be honest with you, I've been having mixed emotions over the MFM posts and whether they are too repetitive - I'm just not sure. They are also quite a bit of work and they take a bit of soul searching for me in order to admit weaknesses in a public online space. Believe it or not, when it comes to emotions I am a private person, despite living part of my life online. At the same time I missed doing the post yesterday morning and felt like I had heaps of things I needed to tell you. While thinking - I thought would it be better if I did one MFM post a month, check in and set my intentions all in one go? I don't know - help me out here. My general feeling is that this could be a better idea, but you can let me know what you prefer. They are fairly personal and once I post them I hear so little with only one to three or so comments. This is by no means about comments only, but I just wanted to find out what the general consensus is.

Back to our regular discussing and MFM process... I had a really great weekend - one of those where you get to do different things and they all just slot in perfectly. I feel as if I want to mention Friday too at the risk of making this a ridiculously long post. Anyway, so on Friday, work was on the go as usual and I also met up for lunch with the lovely Janet of Rubio Communications. I had a few last minute errands to run for the Thrift Sale and also collected a really pretty package (will share in mail monthlies). Most of the day was spent on finalising all for the sale, which also included a late night and an early start on Saturday. The sale was a wonderful success and I am so grateful to all of you who attended and shared the event. I think a special thanks is needed for everyone online who put up with my consistent sale updates and reminders, but as mentioned last week I wanted as many people there as possible. After the fun of the sale my family joined me for lunch at Spiga, which was such a perfect finish to the day. The balance of afternoon was spent on a few sale related admin tasks and on the couch to watch Revenge episodes (judge if you like). You might think I'm crazy, but on Saturday eve I tidied part of my cupboard - I was actually looking for something and ended up having to unpack heaps of things so I just rearranged and organised it (but, never found what I was looking for). On Sunday we slept in - much needed! I had promised myself that the profit from selling my things at the sale was going into new wardrobe items. I have nothing to wear - I mean it... so we headed out for lunch and a bit of shopping. I didn't find exactly what I was after, but I did get a great pair of heels and a dressing gown in the loveliest fluffiest fabric from Cotton On. I picked up a few other bits and pieces. I also stocked up on some treats and we retired to the couch to eat said treats and watch movies. A pretty good weekend I think!

The Working Week in Review / Last Week:
I am so proud of last week's work and all that was accomplished. Two big projects are well on their way. In general I just felt better mood wise with Wednesday being the most productive day with Claire in the office. I find I often get so focused on getting stuff done that I almost get into a bad mood, but with some support it all felt doable. My week also followed my preferred structure of three solid office based days. I also managed to fit in a fun night out at the Mr Price VIP event.

The Working Week:
I feel as if the thought of Easter is making this week seem a bit more chilled - not sure if this is good or bad. There is less office time this week and I will be spend several hours out at consulting sessions. Work on a few blogs continues which I look forward to sharing when they launch. There are several tasks that keep slipping off the list which I simply MUST do this week. Good old procrastination is ever present - these tasks are marked by plenty of 'NB', highlighting and arrows!

Things I'm excited about this week:
Easter and less pressure. Something else really good happened which seems too good to be true and basically we're going away for most of next week. I will share more once I have the ticket in hand.

What will challenge me this week?
To not feel too chilled due to the long weekend's fast approach. My office is also a BIG mess after crafting for the sale and just a general disarray of projects and 'creative mess' (read clutter). Oh and you know that filing I mentioned many weeks ago - yes that hasn't been done (oops)!

Personal Thoughts:
Last week I mentioned my return to yoga and I went again yesterday and just loved it. My friend and I are trying a new, more strenuous class, but it's really awesome. Doing it on a Monday night also seems to set the tone for the week. Personally, I feel very blessed at the moment and grateful for simple, happy things. 
I've been into watching YouTube make-up and beauty videos quite a bit lately and felt that I wanted a few more products, but didn't want to blow my budget. Since starting to think about this, it's as if the stars have aligned and I have been receiving beauty related gifts, samples and press packs. For example, I won a prize at the Rubybox Beauty Nightout - a huge Morgan Taylor hamper and last week my mom gave me some large samples size Gatineau products. I just love taking time to get ready using new items and feeling pampered. 

I hope you have a really great and positive week!

This week's photo features:
One Line A Day Notebook: Exclusive Books
Tapes: Typo & In Good Co
Scissors: Typo (of course)
Glasses Pin / Brooch: Gift, but I'm sure it came from Eclectic.
Pen: Gift from Thailand.

Kamers: Easter in Joburg *TICKET GIVEAWAY* (closed)

14 April 2014

A weekend of Easter egg enjoying and time off is ahead of us and if you are lucky enough to be in Joburg this weekend you can visit Kamers too! How wonderful! I am giving away five sets of double tickets to visit the event which is on from the 18th to 21st April.

Here are just a few of the beautiful products that will be for sale and if you win the tickets it means you will have a spare R150 (value of two tickets) to shop with! (View even more here.)

I've attended a few Kamers in the past and it is a truly amazing creative event!

  • The giveaway is running for the next 24 hours and will end tomorrow at 3pm and is open to anyone who is able to attend the event in Joburg between the 18th and 21st April.
  • Like / Follow both Kamers and me on either Facebook or Twitter. Links: NvdM Twitter / Facebook and Kamers Twitter / Facebook.
  • Share the giveaway and lastly leave a comment on this post with your name, surname and email address.
Good luck!

The winners are: (Please see my reply to your comments on how to claim your tickets.)
Huibri Schalkwyk
Natalie Vos
Kirsten Townsend
Linda Thompson
Michelle Van Der Linde

*Winners selected using

This beautifully curated event is being held at The Forum Campus in Bryanston and there is also a music event taking place...

Happy winning and shopping! Wish I could go with you.
Photos by: Geneviève Fundaro Photography and Charl du Preez.

Easter at Typo

10 April 2014

With Easter just around the corner I'm feeling crafty and in search of some fun and pretty themed bits and pieces to cheer up our home. Of course my darling Typo comes to the rescue with their cute selection. I love all the Easter inspired items (of course I do). Have you got Easter craft plans? I want to decorate a few things and also prep one or two gifts for my family - its another perfect reason to give, share and create. Now... for a visit to stationery heaven.

Trinkets & Treasures Thrift Sale Goodies

09 April 2014

Yes - I know I am harping on about Saturday's Trinkets & Treasures Thrift Sale, but the fact is I don't want anyone to miss out! It's happening this Saturday the 12th at Spiga in Florida Road. There are a whole host of lovely things that will be for sale from some of Durban's most creative folk. I will be selling stationery kits and other bits and pieces. Denise from Freshly Found will be there with a range of lovelies - take a look at her blog for more. Be sure to also look out for Nicola from Ask Ashe who has been snapping her 'for sale' things this week.
Fathima from Happiness Is, Jenna from Girl with a Bum, Susan from Arenhold Living and Sabrina from Fashion Nanny are just a few of the sellers you can look forward to shopping from.

And just in case you don't know where it is or when - here are all the details. Please, please, please spread the work and do pop by!

Meet Free Monday #16

07 April 2014

7 April: A Day at HQ

I hope you enjoyed last week's planning inspiration - it was so lovely. Here we go again - Monday is here and April is already flying by! The weekend was over so quickly. On Friday eve Daniel and I spent the evening at home - we cooked and watched a movie. On Saturday I headed to I heart Market, followed by the Durban Blogger Meet-up. It was a lovely event and the goodie bags were HUGE and full of incredible things including a Le Creuset cappuccino set! On Saturday night we went to a party at our friend's house - we ate delicious burgers, enjoyed some wine and had plenty of laughs. Yesterday, I needed to sleep in which was bliss. In the afternoon we enjoyed a braai with my family - another delicious meal, followed by relaxing and chatting. 

The Working Week in Review / Last Week:
I spent a lot of time out the office last week which was disruptive, but necessary. I didn't feel as productive as I should have. I finished off twenty tape measure corsages for Fashion Nanny's Fashion Camp, as well as a giveaway. I also managed to get a host of thank you notes and gifts done which went out to workshop sponsors. Looking back at my planner it seems I abandoned it a bit, as I rushed around - I look forward to getting all in order this week.

The Working Week:
I really need to have a solid, positive week full of constructive office time. I have a few days scheduled in the office so I can get on top of admin etc. I'm hosting the Trinkets and Treasures Thrift Sale on Saturday and have to finish off some final admin and prep the items I want to sell. Please come to the event on Saturday and please spread the word. Either than that we need to make headway on quite a few projects including some blog makeovers, client newsletters, social media updates and workshop planning.

Things I'm excited about this week:
The Thrift Sale of course - it's exciting, but I also feel slightly anxious as I hope the marketing and sharing pays off.

What will challenge me this week?
To not get stressed. I'm quite a calm person or so I get told, but I can get anxious too just like everyone else. I like to keep a tab on it and to remind myself that I am in fact in charge rather than being weighed down by stress (definitely a challenge).

Personal Thoughts:
I'm excited to be heading back to yoga tonight as our regular instructor had to take some time off. I feel that yoga was helping me to be calm and focused so I hope to gain that feeling once again. This week my main personal goal is health. I often mention this one, but it's something that takes constant work. I have a few personal projects that I'm working on - one is finding a way to organise my accessories, toiletries and make-up. I have asked Daniel to design a cupboard for me so that I can have a dedicated space to house these things - now for him to find the time to do it.

I would really love to hear from you - any challenges or projects on your list?

This week's photo features:
Printed Shopping Bag: Gift
Tape: 100% at Gateway
Small Scissors: From a random sewing kit
Ampersand: Typo
Bokkies: iKhaya and Adams Books
Small Post-it Notes: Lisa & Jo
Babushka Doll Print is from a stamp set - it shows the prints. / Cape Arts & Crafts.

Events: Recap

03 April 2014

I wanted to post a reminder of a few cool events that I have either organised or am involved in. 

Trinkets and Treasures Thrift Sale: 12th April 2014
First up is the Trinkets and Treasures Thrift Sale next week Saturday (12 April). As previously mentioned this is a fun event I have organised. Anyone is welcome to pop in and shop for bargains. There are several popular bloggers and local creatives taking part. Please help me to spread the word by sharing the poster - I would love as many people as possible to attend. To book a table or to take part email me.

Beginners Creative Business Workshop - 23rd April 2014
I've had several enquires about doing mid-week workshops - the first one will be a Beginners Creative Business Workshop on the 23rd of April. If you know of anyone who would like to learn more about social media, branding, creative business etc then please let them know about this course. For more details on what the course covers - click here or email me.
The Ruby Orchard In Store Workshop: 1st June 2014
This wonderful workshop is going to assist so many creatives to grow their businesses and brands - thanks to the wonderful (and clever) Ruby ladies. I'm honoured to be involved and can't wait to meet the attendees.

Networking Conference: 9th - 10th July 2014
I'm so excited to be speaking at this awesome event in Joburg on the 9th and 10th of July. Tickets are on sale and the event is set to be jam-packed full of learning! For more info or tickets - just click here.

P.S.: I am working on additional workshop dates for Joburg and Cape Town. I'm just checking when would be best and which venues will be suitable. Watch the space! Be sure to email me to be added to the waiting list and be the first to know when the dates are released and ready for booking!

To kick off April I'm offering a special consulting deal. Email me this week to book your session and you will receive a discount:
One on one sessions will be R275 (R100 discount) for two hours.
Skype / Facetime sessions will be R200 (R100 discount) for two hours.
The deal is only valid if you book and pay for your session before the 10th of April. Your session, however does not have to take place this week. *Deal open until close of business on Wednesday 9th April).