‘London Start South African Heart’
Let’s rewind to circa 2012. I was living in London at the time, on maternity leave with my first born son, Phoenix. Driven by a creative and entrepreneurial background I have always balanced demanding full-time jobs with creative outlets on the side. At the time, I was moonlighting as a make-up artist in the fashion industry. With a newborn in the mix, I soon found the hours incredibly difficult to manage. This is when the idea to start my own clothing range struck! It all began with a handmade sleeping bag and evolved from there. I tried my hand at sewing shoes and neck scarves and found such a passion in creating these unique little pieces in unusual fabrics, that I started looking for local markets to participate in. My first market was in Richmond-Upon-Thames (putting on a brave face in the rain and snow), where my brand first started getting noticed.
Shortly after this my husband and I decided it was time to return to South Africa as we missed our family, friends and the great lifestyle, not to mention the unbeatable weather. We decided to travel for three months before moving back. Our wanderlust took us across Europe and North America; an unforgettable bonding experience and journey of discovery that completely opened my mind. The dynamic cities and rich cultures influenced me in extraordinary ways; I walked around with a little notebook in my hand, frantically trying to take note of every facet and nuance that intrigued me. Mexico was a front-runner in terms of inspiration, the influence is evident in many of my creations.
We returned to SA and settled in Cape Town after and an incredibly emotional reunion with our family and friends. I decided to pursue my brand aspirations and focused all of my energy on my new-found passion, Phoenix & the Llama. It became my full-time job and required immense patience and dedication. Juggling a household and wearing many different hats, as a wife, mom and entrepreneur was quite the challenge. Shortly thereafter, our ‘welcome home present’, little Miss Indiana joined our troop…and so the madness began! Most P&L items are completely handmade by myself, with the occasional assistance of my lovely seamstress for larger volumes. We strive to empower South Africans and use only the highest quality fabrics. From concept to creation, time and care is invested in each P&L garment and accessory, using handpicked fabrics and edgy prints that come to life in statement designs.
I feel a strong need to break the stereotypical mould of ‘Pink and Blue’. Skulls on a baby?! Little girls wearing black? It sounds so wrong but if worn with mega attitude it can be so right! Times have changed, people are challenging the status quo and parents want their kids to stand out, not blend in. My kids inspire me every day and I love coming up with unusual ideas and encouraging others to be completely different and unique. The brand has a story behind it and the hand crafted products are truly special. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when a product really grabs a customer’s attention. To stay ahead of the pack one must constantly evolve, diversify and never stop exploring new ideas. That’s the trick and the adventure that lies ahead of me! My motto in life is simple. Stay humble, remember your roots. Be friendly, be kind, be cool!