Our Motivation We believe in Ubuntu

I am because we are…and realise that we cannot walk this path alone.
It takes a Village to raise a child and it takes a Team to make a business successful and it takes a lot of Entrepreneurs to raise an economy.

We want the people we work and collaborate with to become everything they want to be.
To be the best examples possible for their children, our country’s future.

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family

Who Are We

We are Ruth and Andre’ Marriott, gobsmacked parents of an unexpected gift from the Universe, in the form of our son, James, born after 12 years of marriage to come and turn our world upside down and inside out with more love then we could have possibly imagined…teaching us more than we could have thought possible.

Our Home

We live, learn, play and create in the beautiful Helderberg just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, in the heart of abundant winelands, endless beaches and majestic, protective mountains…juxtapostioned alongside many informal, impoverished communities overflowing with many amazing people desperately wanting to create a sustainable and hopeful life for themselves and families.

Our Past

Both Andre’ and I worked in the rag trade (clothing industry) in Cape Town before it crashed, bringing our well thought out & planned world down around us.   Fate intervened and nudged us towards Somerset West, Andre’s home town.  We thought it would only be a temporary move…but Life had other plans.

Our First Product

Shortly after this, my sister gave birth to her son, Channing.  We wanted to give him something meaningful to mark the occasion of his birth, something like the wishes the Fairies gave a young princess in a popular fairy tale, so we created the crystal mobile, tying stones together with beads, each one chosen for its particular properties.   These crystal mobiles took on a life all of their own and still bless us today.

Challenges

One Winters day, we only had R70 left to get us through to the next market where we sold our crystal mobiles.   Instead of spending the money on ourselves, we went to the supermarket and bought ingredients to make sandwiches to sell the next day.   We didn’t have enough to buy the bread, so early the next morning, we picked lots of organic spinach from our garden, tied it into bundles and went to the Spar up the road to ask if they would buy it from us.  They bought all of it and we were able to buy the bread needed to finish the sandwiches.   We walked up and down Bright Street selling those sandwiches and could live to get through another day…we started adding little daily, relevant quotes to the sandwiches and Food For Thought was born, which helped us get through the Winter and to our next stepping stone.

Light at the end of the tunnel

In September that year we took our beloved crystal mobiles in for approval to the V&A Waterfront Small Business Development initiative, at the time the Waterfront Craftmarket (Blue Shed), which is now the incredibly successful and award winning Watershed.

They loved our product and we have been blessed with sustainable business growth while under their Small Business Development umbrella with incredible help and support from their SBD team.

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Mercy

We did everything ourselves, sourcing stones, creating, selling…everything and could finally afford a char to assist with housework once a week.    A beautiful Xhosa woman, Mercy found her way into our life, young and desperate, from the Eastern Cape, with hopes and dreams of a better life in the City…but it wasn’t working for her.     She just couldn’t find and keep work, she was unskilled and spoke hardly any English.

After much thought, we decided to teach Mercy to mosaic, which was very hard for her and we had to go back to teaching her puzzles first and have instructions translated into Xhosa for her,

We sourced offcuts of mirror that would have just been discarded and set about guiding Mercy to create simple but beautiful mirrors which we hung on the empty walls of our stall at the market at the V&A Waterfront.  They started selling and soon we were able to bring an increasing number of young women onto the project.

Mistakes

We started teaching these ladies beading as well and soon had many ladies working from our home, making products that we sold under our umbrella.

In 2007, with the terrible recession upon us, we moved into our little shop – back in Bright Street – where the ladies then started working from as well.    We lost direction and allowed the business to run away with us in directions we weren’t quite equipped or financially able to deal with.

Recovery

At the beginning of 2009, after 12 years of being married and in our 40’s, we realised that we were going to be having a baby and this forced us to recalibrate everything about ourselves.  We let go of a lot and hung onto our position at the V&A Waterfront market, downscaled and gave ourselves space to re-think how to move forward.

I realised that I wanted to be able to work easily from home so that I could raise our son myself and empathized with the many women in the townships close by who didn’t usually have that luxury.

We worked towards setting up the ladies we worked with at their own homes and eventually just kept the training and the beading at our own home so that we could be hands on with that.

NGO

We formalized our business with the help of some amazing people, creating a Social Enterprise that could operate as both a for profit Pty (Ltd) as well as a Non Profit Trust (PBO & NPO).

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