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A Guru for the modern Girl

Beverley Burne was a nightmare school pupil. Always staring out the window dreaming up delightful products to sell her friends, she always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. This coupled with the fact that she’s far too bossy to work for anyone else and it was only a matter of time before she created Guru Girl – a colourful and inspiring line of clothing, accessories and stationary with a hint of South African flavour.

Amongst other things, Beverley is a non-conformist, who wears a bindi (colourful dot worn on the forehead) daily to remind herself to stay unique & keep looking forward.

Safindit: Tell us a bit about yourself & Guru Girl?
Beverley: After trials,errors and years of tribulations, I can confidently confirm that my brand Guru Girl™ is a culmination of all of my strengths rolled into one AND my friends are excited…very excited! Over the past few years, I have realized that life is far too short to be doing anything other than what I absolutely love to do. I am an artist at heart, armed with a vivid imagination. After a tough patch in my life Guru Girl™ became the channel through which I could see the light and energy of all things good and is the ever-evolving, optimistic, never give up side to my personality!

S: How did the idea for Guru Girl come about?
B: A couple of years ago, I literally woke up one morning with the words guru and girl roaming around my mind! A friend of mine put me in touch with a graphic designer who came up with a logo that is now Guru Girl™. I immediately knew there and then that Guru Girl™ was going to become the “thinking girl’s” hello kitty and that she would appeal from tiny tots to extra large ladies. (Only after I had instructed him to adorn her with a red dot on her forehead, was I ready to develop her unique personality!)

I wanted to create a brand that was totally endearing to all girls (big and small) … a brand that was a little upside down and back to front … she is the anti thesis of Barbie … if you look at her, you will see that she is not symmetrical at all and yet she is so beautiful! She is not any particular creed or shape or colour … and yet when peeps see her they are immediately taken with her philosophy and the way she thinks … she is here to remind peeps to love unconditionally.

S: What is the Guru Girl aesthetic/philosophy?
B: The way she looks, the way she thinks, the fact that she understands that she is not a perfect, uptight, symmetrical brand? Once you have seen Guru Girl™ you will never forget her? She is unforgettable… Continue reading

Captivating fashion for the fuller figure

Fashion can be a fickle friend, particularly when you’re not shaped like a shop mannequin. That’s why Danae Gillmer started a fashion line exclusively made for plus-size women in South Africa.

“A large proportion of the female population of the country fall into the plus size market and we felt it was important to give them access to more variety. We wanted fuller figured women to have the option of fashionable, well-fitted clothing that made them feel stylish and helped them embrace their curves,” explained Danae of Captive8 House of Fashion.

For Danae and her team, Captive8 is more than just a clothing line selling fashion to customers. It’s a brand that wants to make women confident in their own skin.
“We want to help women look great on the outside so that they can feel good about themselves. We want them to celebrate their beauty, physically and internally,” she said. “Captive8 is unique in that it designs and manufactures clothes locally and specifically for the plus size market, but does so in small runs so that the garments are exclusive. At Captive8, we understand the plus size woman has different needs. We especially design our range to highlight the best parts of her body and flatter her fuller figure – all with fashionable trends so that she can feel stylish.” Continue reading

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Fancy Dress – For fun occasions!

Some people love them and others loathe them but there’s a good chance you’re going to get invited to at least ONE dress-up party or event per year.

There are those who keep a special trunk of goodies aside in delightful anticipation of these occasions and those who rock up at the party shop two hours before the event, buy a wig and a pair of sunglasses and pretend they made an effort.

Whether you fall into the former or latter category, it’s a good thing to know where the closest costume hire and/or party shop is. Fake moustache emergencies do happen.

Pick ‘n Pay’s mobi is a modern shopper’s dream

Personally I feel that Pick n Pay are doing a lot right with their current marketing strategy. Their Smartshopper cards build loyalty and their website invites continual interaction by giving customers the option of signing up and creating recipe books and grocery lists online. These are the kind of touches that appeal to a modern-day shopper like myself.

Now, with their mobisite, they’ve added a new level to that functionality, giving their shoppers the chance to access their grocery lists and recipes from their phones.

While the main site is sprawling and choc-a-bloc with information and options, they’ve resisted the urge to add all of this to the mobi, which is wise.
Instead, they’ve chosen the key areas smartly, including a store locator, specials, recipes and then the member content – the recipe book and grocery list generator.

The store locator is a bit odd. One would think a brand as large as PnP with so many stores would choose right away for a GPS location-based solution. Instead, you have to pick a province/area and then type in a keyword to find your nearest store. The problem is, the results differ depending on what keywords you enter! For example, I typed in Durban North, but my local Hyper did not come up. Only when I typed in Hyper did it appear. Surely it would’ve made more sense to just give the user the option to find their closest store via GPS or even simply pick a branch off a list based on their nearest suburb? Continue reading

Knock, knock – It’s knickers!

If you have a passion for pretty knickers and love a good surprise, you’re going to adore Lingerie Letters. Founded by Lauren Graham and Kimberley Wood of online fashion retailer and Sylvia Gruber and Margaux Knuppe of beauty box sensation rubybox, this new service is already delighting women all over SA.

The idea is simple enough. You sign up online with your personal details and preferences and every month you’ll receive a surprise pair of panties in the post!

We spoke to Lily Chantilly about this unique business and it’s growing popularity!

Safindit: How did the business come about?
Lily: We’re always looking for a new excuse to buy a cute pair of panties and still love how it feels to receive a letter in the post (not a bill). Combine the two and you get Lingerie Letters!

S: It’s an unusual idea. Are there other online businesses offering anything like this?
L: Lingerie Letters is the first online lingerie subscription service in South Africa. It’s all about reviving the postal service so that you receive a cute surprise pair of panties every month, instead of just the usual boring bills. It also follows on from rubybox and Diligo, where you get to delight yourself from the comfort of your own home.

S: What is it about lingerie that interests/ excites you?
L: I love all the intimate appeal of lingerie, no one knows what style you’re wearing yet somehow you feel more confident wearing that special pair of panties. Plus, I love the variety. Everything from delicate drawers to tom-boy briefs, there’s something for everyone.

S: Where and how do you source your lingerie?
L: All Lingerie Letters panties are made with love in South Africa. We hand-select the fabrics and trims locally and with the South African women’s figure and sizing in mind. Continue reading

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Market Master: Durban – Stalls for all Tastes!

If you’re a market-lover, you’re in for a treat in Durban. Because of the cultural diversity of the city, you’re inclined to find things you would most probably not find anywhere else in the country!

Durban is home to numerous exciting markets from the highly traditional – like the fascinating Markets of Warwick, where you’ll find the country’s largest traditional medicine market – to the trendy and sophisticated I Heart Market. Started about 3 years ago, this market has captured the hearts (scuse the punn) of Durbanites and become a popular monthly excursion for those in search of bespoke clothing & accessories, delicious home-made cuisine and unique arts and crafts.

For food-lovers Durban markets provide an exciting blend of traditional Indian and African tastes as well as the more conventional Western influences.


Sheet Street’s mobisite is a dream come true

I was surprised by how much I liked the Sheet Street mobisite. It’s not a store I frequent that often, but when I do, I inevitable find a few things I wouldn’t mind buying.
Considering Sheet Street is not considered a luxury retailer, I was surprised at how classy their mobisite was. Slick, clean and well-thought out, I really enjoyed using it.

The home page is uncluttered. They haven’t felt the need to share all their company news or history with you. Rather, they realised that, if you were going to the Sheet Street mobi, you were probably trying to find a branch or an item.

Finding a branch is easy enough with the branch locator, however, it’s always nicer to have a bit of automatic geo-location.

What’s really cool is the comprehensive product catalogue they’ve included. The products are all neatly arranged into sensible categories and clearly priced with well-sized pictures, ideal for any size phone. A few of the pics failed to load but far more were spot on and loaded quickly and easily.

Another nice thing they’ve added to the catalogue is the option to share the product of your desire directly to your Facebook or Twitter. It’s a simple thing, but very thoughtful when one considers that people like to share just about everything online nowadays! Why not show everyone the bathroom set you’re planning on purchasing this weekend?!

It’s actually so well organised, it’s like a little mini online store, which makes me think that perhaps that’s their long-term goal. They have a members login area where account holders can manage their accounts too. What would be awesome is if they could somehow link them so that members could use their accounts to purchase items on their mobile devices!

Though I didn’t find any special offers or sale items displayed on the home page (something I like to see on mobis) they did have a nice, simply competition running where users can win R1000 by answering a question and providing details.

The Sheet Street mobisite is a real triumph of design and thoughtfulness. You can see they really considered their customers and had some foresight when they put it together.

It’s positively…dreamy.


Definitely Not Just Coffee!

I was walking on my way back home from a friends place and I couldn’t help but notice this colorful fence. It spoke to me. I decided to pop in and acquaint myself with the atmosphere and I must say, not only are the colors warm and friendly, but so are the people.

I decided to get comfortable and try to establish both the frame and portrait of Just Tonight Josephine (dress shop) by sipping on a good cup of Cuppucino and indulging on a slice of Lemon meringue at their Just Coffee Café in Jan Smuts Avenue, Randburg. The flamboyant feel of the scenery and how distinct the interior and the exterior is, jumps out at you at first glance. Just Tonight Josephine’s has been breathing for over six years now. The name was inspired by “Not Tonight Josephine” (the supposed response by Napoleon Bonaparte when declining sex with Empress Joséphine). And just recently they opened a coffee shop in their premises, all in the name of taking good care of their customers.

Just Tonight Josephine is a dress shop that prides itself on exclusivity. It has a certain elegance and ambience about it that is inconspicuously expressive and diverse. With over 2000 options, ranging from matric dance wear, to that black tie event that needs that elegant black tie nuance, moving on to Latin-American and ballroom dancing wear for the sexy and I must say, flexible, as well as the immortal masquerade ball wear. They also sell accessories and shoes, and yes, everyone has a size. I’m talking about sizes that range from 28-46. Everyone can now look young and sexy! Women of all different personalities, shapes and forms are considered. Not forgetting the mens section as well as the kids – all at an affordable price mind you.

This shop has only female staff, empowering women to be independent and strong forces of society. They are inspired by the everyday women that wake up everyday to be a part of that paper-chase. From the corporate independent well-established woman, to the street vendor on the side of the road. Continue reading

A Mega Mouthful at the Mall

I’m not much into mall dining. I don’t think many people enjoy it really?
You’re generally either confronted with chaotic crowds and fluorescent lighting or else you find yourself seated in a gaping abyss with the ambience of a supermarket.

Still, if you’re going to the movies and you want to catch a bite to eat first, you begin to search for the most appealing option in the food court. At Gateway, the outside food court area can be a manic space. It can also be fairly tranquil at times and the astroturf and imported palm trees try their best to make you feel like you’re not ensconced in a retail monument.

I was looking for something with ambience, but after giving up on ever finding such a thing, we opted for Circus Circus – the reason being someone had recently told me that they had had an excellent meal there. Not feeling like anything specific, I also knew that their menu was quite varied.

We chose to sit outside and the nip in the Winter air was surprisingly refreshing, although we were one of only two tables who chose to do so. Inside, there was a cozy buzz with a healthy dose of customers – also a good sign on a usually difficult Wednesday evening.

Though I feared we may be ignored outside with the inside being so busy, I was surprised at how efficient and attentive our waitress was. It’s a typical coffee-shop type menu the like of which wouldn’t look out of place at Mugg & Bean or Ninos, but there are a few exceptions; some tasty twists of interesting and fresh ingredients that make you look twice.

We decided on burgers, my partner ordering the ‘Mother of all Burgers’ – a double delight filled to the brim with bacon, cheese, egg, rocket and more… As someone who doesn’t generally order burgers in restaurants – I prefer to make my own gourmet burger – these burgers brought a great, big smile to both our faces. Everything looked and tasted fresh, the meat was flavoursome and the portions generous. They also came with really good, crispy thin fries.

Circus Circus started out as a legendary coffee shop/ trendy lunch venue in Musgrave and I remember the food always being excellent. Now that it’s expanded into a franchise, I thought they may lose their touch, but it seems they are still hitting all the right notes with fresh, flavoursome, value-for-money food.

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Cito’s City Hits – For the Fans!

He is known throughout South Africa as the handsome and energetic frontman of rock band Wonderboom, but gained even more fans playing the role of Jesus in the local production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

This is what Cito had to say about some of his favourite brands and places in Joburg & Cape Town:

“I love wearing bluecollarwhitecollar shirts. Designers and business partners, Paul Van Der Spuy (who is a living inspiration and loves bikes, like I do) and Adrian Heneke head this custom men’s shirt label and have outlets in Kloof Street, Cape Town and The Zone, Rosebank, Joburg. The designs and quality of fabric are beautiful and stand out above the rest!

They also sell at The Old Biscuit Mill,during the Organic Market on Saturdays, which is also great! Delicious organic food and drink, bustling with vibe and energy. And at The Old Biscuit Mill, there just happens to be my favourite coffee shop and microroasters, Espressolab which is run, hands-on, by an amazing Portuguese-Swedish couple and cool barista team. I even have their coffee beans sent up to Joburg; that’s how good it is!

Next door to the shop is a sweet delicatessen called Saucisse. I usually order my sandwich there and have it sent next door almost every day when I’m in Cape Town! They all know me there…
For hanging out with friends and maybe catching an intimate live session, Julep Bar, on Long Street, Cape Town.

One of my best finds the past year has to be The Maboneng Precinct, in downtown Joburg! Arts On Main (also great organic market on Sundays!) and 12 Decades Hotel Rooftop are the best thing that has happened to Joburg and I get a kick riding into town with my wife on my bike to hang out there.
Been doing a monthly lawn bowls date at Zoo Lake Bowling Club, which has been so much fun! My favourite portuguese restaurant, Cesco’s, in Strydom Park has the most delicious, authentic feel-good food.”

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Midlands Attractions – Start Meandering!

Quaint, peaceful, picturesque… The KZN Midlands is a place where you could think that time had simply stood still. Cows moo lazily as you drive past and locals smile & wave. It’s the kind of place you wish you could be when deadlines are looming on a Friday morning.

It’s also a hub of culture and artistic and creative talent. Pick up a Meander Map and we guarantee you’ll find something that interests you – from pottery and leather goods to textiles, African crafts & even fashion.

The Meander is also a foodie’s dream. Whether you yearn for high cuisine or fresh goats cheese straight off the farm, home-made biltong & preserves or renowned craft beer, it’s all there – just a couple of hours outside of Durban.

Mint Revives Vintage Treasures

Just hearing how much behind the scenes work is involved in running online retro store, Mint is fairly exhausting! One thing becomes clear after speaking with creator and curator, Kirsty Machen – this business is all about passion!

On any given day, you may find her endlessly trawling the streets and alleys of Durban searching for gems among the junk, just to make sure she keeps her fellow décor lovers enthralled with new and interesting items.
“You have to keep on trying, even when you’re only selling a tenth of what you put up for sale, and you have to carry on trying to find stock, even when you’ve spent days on end driving around with no luck. It can be a little disheartening! I also think that the success of an online store of any type, is consistency – if the people who follow you expect to see five items for sale a day, then that’s what you have to deliver. You can’t put one item up for sale, and then not try and sell anything for the next week,” says the online entrepreneur.

Kirsty got the idea for Mint while furnishing her own first home. Without substantial funds to decorate her space and struggling to find pieces that reflected her quirky style, she started to source items from retro second hand stores.
“People seemed to respond really well to the way I had decorated the house – vintage pieces in a contemporary setting work really well – so I thought why not take it to the next level and shop for other people,” she remembers. Despite a profitable job in the corporate world, Kirsty decided to follow her heart, resigning in 2010 to launch Mint, the online store. Continue reading

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Durban Designers – The Faces of Durbs Fashion Scene!

The fashion industry is a tough business. As Heidi Klum would say, ‘One day you’re in & the next you’re out.’ It takes a strong & highly creative person to build a solid name in the local business.

With few platforms for exposure and little support from the government, aspiring fashionistas need to work extra hard to instil their brand in the local market.

Despite this Durban has always had a vibrant fashion scene, a cornerstone of which has always been the annual Durban July.

Today the city is home to a stalwart group of designers that continue to move with the trends and inspire and uplift the younger talent of KZN. Though some of them have expanded outside of the area, their style sensibility will always be undeniably East Coast!