To say that Christmas runs in the Rasmussen family’s blood is an understatement. They have been in the Christmas industry for nearly 25 years, the last 11 of which were spent focussing solely on creating beautiful, quality, unique Christmas crackers.
Whether you choose to pop yours on Christmas morning or with the family around the table at lunch, Christmas crackers add fun and a little bit of magic to every moment.
But while most of us are still yet to stock up on our Christmas crackers for the upcoming festive season, the team at Glenart Trading have already delivered most of their stock for this year and, amazingly, are already hard at work planning new designs for 2020.
Chances are, when you do pop into Woolworths, Pick ‘n Pay, Checkers (or a number of other top retailers) and pick up your crackers, you’ll end up going home with a beautiful box that have been handmade by local Zulu women in the Glenart warehouse in Chaka’s Head.
Owned by Miles Rasmussen, Glenart was started by his father Rowan in 1995. He ran the business out of their family home in Kloof and their address was 19 Glenart Road, which is how the name came about. At first, the business was all-things-Christmas, from gift wrapping and bags to décor, lights, crackers and baubles. Miles joined the business in his mid-twenties, after finishing his studies at UCT and spending time overseas where he worked as a model.
In 2006 his dad phoned and asked him to come and work for him. “Christmas is in our blood. It’s what I grew up with and it’s everything I’ve ever known,” says the 37-year-old father of two.
Their focus shifted towards crackers, which had always been the biggest part of their business, when they realised they could create better quality products than those they were importing.
“China became more accessible, and people were starting to buy their items directly. But when it came to Christmas crackers, we always knew we could do better.” In 2008, Glenart turned their focus solely to creating top quality, unique Christmas crackers.
Two years later, Rowan took a step back from the business and Miles took on the role of production manager. “I became more confident about our business and passionate about innovation development and cost-saving.” Five years ago, Miles bought Glenart Trading from his father.
It’s still very much a family business though, says Miles, because his wife, Candace, works side-by-side with him. Candace, mother to their two sons, Finn (4) and Tom (2), is originally from Pietermaritzburg. She studied beauty straight after school and completed a finance degree a few years later. She worked in procurement at Unilever before ‘’begging’’ Miles to give her a job at Glenart! As the company grew, Candace took on more responsibility and she now handles import procurement, accounts, shipping and the online wholesale website.
“I was nervous about Candace joining the business and concerned about how it might affect our relationship, but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” says Miles. “She is the one person I can rely on completely. She helps me get clarity and perspective, and is intuitive with managing the dynamics of people. She has been critical to the growth of the business.”
Miles and Candace got married in 2014 and from then on it was a whirlwind of huge life changes and adjustments. “Over a period of three years we got married, had two kids, built a warehouse and our own house and relocated our entire business to the North Coast. It’s all still a bit of a blur really,” laughs Miles.
It was around that time, Miles says, that they invented and launched what is now one of their signature products, Crackertoa. A play on the word ‘Krakatoa’, the famous volcano in Indonesia, the party crackers have a built-in confetti popper, which makes for loads of fun at any celebration!
“Crackertoa has done very well, both locally and internationally and is stocked in high profile department stores in the UK.”
Miles is also very proud of their in-house range of bespoke crackers, Holly & Ivy. Through partnering with local high-end brands, Holly & Ivy crackers can be filled with upmarket, bespoke items like organic soaps, single-origin sustainably grown coffee and small-batch distilled gin.
Glenart is also a proudly local and proudly African, World Fair Trade Organisation certified business. The majority of their staff live in the nearby settlement, so they don’t have to incur travel costs and spend hours away from their families to get to and from work. “Zulu women are excellent craftsmen, creating beautiful bead work and baskets. For a few months every year, our factory resembles ‘Santa’s grotto’, with hundreds of women busily putting together beautiful Christmas creations. We have a great team and I’m looking to expand the business to include other festive paper party products. We are also working towards becoming plastic-free and biodegradable in the near future.”
Details: www.glenart.co.za, 032 947 0313.
Text: Leah Shone | Photograph: Chris Allan Photo | Styling: Wendy Hind, image consultant