Meet Helen D’Oliveira, an artsy businesswoman and mom from Muldersdrift who did the Camino de Santiago by herself. She explains why setting goals and standards is the secret to happiness
The word ‘can’t’ isn’t in Helen’s vocabulary. Goaloriented, determined and feisty, she has completely shattered the stereotype that creative people are disorganised and all over the place. We have never met a woman quite like Helen who knows exactly where she is heading in life.
She has been involved in building Avianto Venue and Hotel’s brand for the past 15 years and is the mastermind behind For Goodness Sake, Mustardseed and Moonshine, Affordable Adventures Team Building, Event Inspirations with partner Tasha Schoeman, and her newest project, For Goodness Bake, will be opening soon.
When we sat down for a quick cup of coffee, Helen produced a journal full of profound messages and tips for a happy life.
‘I have started journalling daily – it’s one of the many habits that you must learn to be happy. You should also try to be positive and kind, and of course, eat healthily and exercise a lot.’ She discovered this recipe to happiness while researching teambuilding for her own staff. ‘We are stuck in the lives we live because of the standards we set for ourselves. To
change that, you should start new daily rituals that will contribute to your success. That is why I decided to do the Camino de Santiago on my own in 2019.’
The Camino was everything but easy for this 46-year-old. Second to raising her three children, this 800km walk she completed in 35 days was the most challenging thing she has ever done.
‘When I started, I realised I was a bit overweight and unfit, and there were a lot of seasoned walkers. I was quite intimidated and the first 10 days were the hardest. I wanted to give up almost every day but every time I felt like quitting, my husband phoned me and convinced me to put out my boots and clothes, go to sleep and get up the next morning and walk again … And I did it.’
She documented the whole experience on her blog www.helendo.co.za throughout her journey and for her, the best part and the worst part of the experience were finishing.
‘I learned a lot about myself during the trip and I realised that setting small goals and consistency were key to completing it. I think that’s how you should handle everything in life.’
Being a working mom is hard work, but Helen wouldn’t have it any other way. She also teaches her children to set goals for themselves and work hard to achieve them.
‘When you are a mom, you are raising actual human beings and you have to remember that every day, especially when they are teenagers. I’m very proud of who they are and the women they are growing up to be. We recently set a new rule in our home that we have to eat at least one meal together a day so we can be more involved in each others lives.’
When Helen isn’t busy with her projects, businesses or parenting, you can find her on a tuk-tuk or in a restaurant in some side street in another country.
‘I enjoy seeing and experiencing culture, so when I travel, I travel differently from other people. Rather than driving in a car and staying in a luxurious hotel, I’d be on a bicycle or motorcycle, taking it all in. America, China, India and Thailand are just some of my most memorable trips … I try to get to know the community. One thing I learned from travelling, is that we are all people and we all experience the same things. It doesn’t matter if you are the queen or if you are Angelina Jolie, we all have to eat, sleep, brush our teeth, go to the loo and raise our children. We are all just human.’
Helen is the definition of a creative genius and has a talent for making something beautiful out of nothing. She is always busy making jewellery, dresses or pots, but she also likes to work in the garden or create delicious dishes in the kitchen.
‘My style is a bit eclectic and I’m not scared to try new things. My love of earthy tones and raw material reflects in my personal style as well as my creations. I don’t believe in following trends because I make my own.’
We will be keeping an eye out for Helen’s future projects as well as the opening of For Goodness Bake.
Quick facts about Helen:
Do you prefer food, travel or art? I can’t choose between the three so if I had it my way I’d be eating in an art gallery in an exotic country.
What is one thing no one knows about you? I met my husband through a magazine (… in the days before Tinder).
In what clique were you in school? I was a nerd, but an exciting one.
Who is your hero? My husband.
Rain vs sunshine? Sunshine all the way.
Text: JACO-MARI HAASBROEK. Photographer: JACO BOTHMA.