Meet Fairlady start-up awards - Kasselot's beginning

MEET FAIRLADY'S BUSINESS START-UP AWARD WINNERS SHARE THIS Seven new businesses share R120 000 in this year's awards. Article: Reshma Lakha Singh Ray Creations | Batho Cards | Inini Glassware Simplegrow Gauteng CC | A Success Story Plant kits, greeting cards, wrought-iron products and kiln-formed glass. The creative juices were once again in full flow as hundreds of innovative entries rolled in for the FAIRLADY/LIBERTY Business Start-Up Awards. The awards recognise the importance of the small business industry and give wings to fledgling enterprises that show promise of great things to come. For the past 13 years, FAIRLADY has been instrumental in launching 81 entrepreneurs and to date, together with the Liberty Foundation, has given away R1,4 million in cash to winners and runners-up. Entries were received from across the country, including some wonderful ideas from teenagers who were simply brimming with creativity. The entries reflect the times we live in . . . full of hopes, dreams, positivity and upliftment. Some entrants would like to advertise their products on the Internet, while others want to create employment in the informal sector. Ray Creations wins R41 250, plus a Xylo computer, Microsoft software and an Olivetti printer Preggie comfort When Lee-Anne Kassel, 26, was pregnant, she struggled to find comfortable underwear 'because everything kept rolling down'. She decided to stitch one of her panties into a comfortable shape, and wondered why no one had thought of doing it before. Lee-Anne realised she'd struck gold and looked around for manufacturers to produce her designs. 'It was hilarious the way Lee-Anne blew in through our doors,' says Joy Stewart, owner of Annarose Lingerie. 'She refused to leave until I saw her. Lee-Anne's enthusiasm for the concept grabbed me the minute she walked into my office, so we developed the idea.' 'I had a draft of what I wanted to produce. With Joy's help we refined the design, did sampling, added and changed,' says Lee-Anne. The idea was to design panties that sit below the growing tummy. In spite of all the work involved, they had fun as well,' says Joy. 'When we received our first order of 30 panties, Lee-Anne came screaming down the factory stairs. The staff wondered how she would react when we receive orders of 1 000 and more,' she says, laughing. Ironically, Lee-Anne never had a chance to test her product to its full capacity. She gave birth before the first batch of panties got off the production line. While still in hospital she registered the patent. Their company is called Ray Creations, a subsidiary of Annarose owned jointly by Lee-Anne and Joy. 'Lee-Anne has the vigour of youth on her side, I have the maturity of age. Together we create fireworks,' says Joy. Their range now includes Preggy U Dip, Hi Cut, tanga and G-string panties. 'The future for us is to grow the range into maternity bra's, feeding shirts for day and night, maternity belly overs (panties that go over the stomach), a Preggy Pack, which would include a matching bra and panties set, and a post-pregnancy set,' says Lee-Anne. Batho Cards wins R21 250, a Xylo computer, Microsoft software and an Olivetti printer/fax/scanner/copier African renaissance Fashion designer Lorato Liphuku, 26, found her new job at a knitwear design company so frustrating that she spent much of her time writing letters and cards to friends. But the cards didn't reflect her, her culture or her SA heritage û things she feels passionately about, even though she was born in exile and only returned to SA after democracy. With the concept of indigenous cards ticking away in her head, she found ideas in a magazine and decided to get creative. Now she's negotiating with a card manufacturer to distribute them at major retailers. Her glossy black and white cards show African people in traditional attire; children have braids, men wear dreadlocks, and women carry baskets on their heads. The cards also reflect African celebrations and rituals little known to Western society. 'Batho Cards is just the beginning,' says Lorato. 'I have other creative ideas in the pipeline, but I want to take it one step at a time.' Inini Glassware wins R21 250, plus a Xylo computer, Microsoft software and an Olivetti printer Art in a glass Not much happens in Aggenys in the Northern Cape, so when Nini Jerman's geologist husband, Nick, was transferred there she had think of an idea to save herself from going 'crazy'. She got her creative juices fired up and went on a kiln-formed glass course. There she discovered she had a talent, and started making glass crockery so different it will blow your mind. 'When we moved, I left behind my job and city life. At first, I decided to try my hand at home keeping, but after a few days, it drove me crazy. I was forced to re-examine my life,' she says. She knew she had to find something she could take with her because of her husband's nomadic job. The concept had to be marketable, different and relatively inexpensive to start up. After completing the course, Nini invested in a small kiln (oven) and got going. Her glasswork basically entails taking two pieces of glass, moulding them into a shape, then placing objects, such as leaves, paint, metal shapes and even chillies between the two glass moulds before fusing it all in a kiln. When completed, it looks as if the objects 'float' inside the glass. Nini's designs have an ethnic or a minimalist feel. A trip to Johannesburg for Nick gave Nini the chance to test the market. 'Many of the upmarket home and decor stores just loved the idea,' she says. Once orders started coming in, she experienced her first hiccup. Hers was a one-person show, the kiln was too small and getting glass to Aggenys was difficult. So she bought a bigger kiln, drove to Pofadder to fetch the glass herself, and hired a helper. 'In spite of buying a bigger kiln, my orders are coming through faster and two kilns are still not enough. That's why I can't, at this stage, go on a huge marketing drive.' While Nini's designs are fresh and new, her pieces are affordable. 'Hand-made glass is very rare in SA. Usually glass artists make art pieces. I make functional pieces that you can use in your home.' Simplegrow Gauteng CC wins R21 250, plus office space and expertise from the SA Breweries' Project Noah Growing strong Sisters-in-law Meryn and Lynnette Mc Jarrow, found themselves at a career crossroads when their babies arrived. Both wanted to spend more time with their kids but continue to help pay the bills, so they decided to take the plunge and go into business together. Meryn resigned from the personnel company where she was working and Lynnette quit her job as an air hostess. Their business idea came from a chance meeting with a Cape Town businessman who sold snazzy plant gift packs. Both were struck by his lack of enthusiasm for the task. They asked him for contact details to pursue the idea in Johannesburg. The Mc Jarrow's made contact with the UK company Simplegrow and started thinking about becoming the Gauteng representatives. 'Initially, it was quite daunting,' says Meryn, 28. 'We were new at running a business, let alone dealing with import/export issues. We started calling companies through the Yellow Pages, asking for advice. Soon we discovered a whole new world of soil and seed experts.' They now hold the SA Simplegrow licence, selling gardening kits consisting of a pot, soil, seed and instructions for growing the seeds. The arrival of the first UK shipment was a nightmare, however. It was late, retailers were waiting, and when it finally arrived the kits were damaged because of a storm at sea. 'The terracotta pots were in fragments, but we did some damage control and survived,' says Meryn, laughing at the memory. Soon they were exploring SA materials, which made their products less expensive and also better suited to our climate. The range is divided into three sections: herbs, flowers and kits for children. The children's range comes with animal-shaped terracotta pots with flower seeds and an easy-to-read instruction manual. Lynnette and Meryn confess to not having green fingers. It was the pretty gift ideas that first caught their eyes. Their business has blossomed to such an extent that it's now based at a small business park. 'What began in a garage, with a trailer and babies on our hips, has turned into a bigger concern,' Lynnette, 38, says proudly. And their advice? Never assume starting from the bottom can't take you to the top. A success story Over the years many of the FAIRLADY/ LIBERTY Business Start-Up Awards winners have used their prizes as a springboard to business and financial success. For Joy and Trevor Grey, who won R15 000 in 1991, what began as a husband fishing and a wife selling the catch to make ends meet has turned into a multimillion-rand business. Joy and Trevor began selling fish to Cape Town restaurants and eventually formed a company, Grey's Marine, which has expanded beyond their wildest dreams û selling seafood to the likes of Woolworths and Pick 'n Pay. 'We now employ more than 300 people at two fishing depots,' Joy says proudly. 'We supply all the Woolworths stores with fish. In fact, Grey's will soon open a store within Woolworths.' Grey's Marine is one of a handful of SA companies that have met the registered health requirements to export fish to European and Asian markets. Their head office is in Diep River, where the fish is processed and distributed, while their Hout Bay office handles the exports. Joy's passionate about developing the community surrounding the industry. 'I have mostly women employed here and if initiative is shown, they move up the ladder very quickly.' They plan to stay 'small'. 'We run a small operation that focuses on quality and service. We have no board of directors to answer to, and can give the client what they want on the spur of the moment.' The couple recently won Business Partners Limited's Entrepreneur of the Month Award. Joy was also a finalist in the Lebone Women of the Year Award. - Fairlady NEXT ON WOMEN24X

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