Alison Blair has always been inspired by the environment around her, taking her cue from circumstance. Maybe that’s what living in the Lowveld does, it’s something that’s built into the DNA of the people of Mpumalanga.
A highly successful marketer and business owner in Mbombela, Alison is fiercely passionate about the entrepreneur. At heart, she has always seen herself as one, and like every great entrepreneur, she knows that failure is a fundamental part of the journey, simply another learning curve in the process. It’s the pathway to self-validation that may very well see zero satisfaction.
“The marketing industry is very dynamic and challenging. Which is what I love about it, no day is ever the same and it keeps you on your toes! It all starts with a vision and then taking actionable steps to achieve it. If you keep the end in mind, then the odd curveball can easily be negotiated and a solution found and implemented. I love solving problems and figuring out ways to get things done, and marketing is certainly all about that! I’m interested in understanding how people consume content, especially advertising. The industry has changed so much since the digital revolution that we have to adapt or get left behind.
“Covid-19 created a mental shift, one which made me realise I need to focus on my creativity, to make brave and bold decisions and generate something meaningful, for me. We’re always told that there isn’t a right time to make these massive leaps,
we’re told to be cautious, to think twice,” she smiles. It was during this time of contemplation that Alison shifted an exciting concept from ideation to real life.
“I’m a mother to a unique and amazing little boy, Ewan. He is 11 years old and he teaches me, on a daily basis, what being brave really means.” Ewan smiles up at Alison, a grin that lights up the room. He has some special needs, which have caused him to develop later than some kids his age. “We do not have a formal diagnosis,” says Alison.
“If you look at a list of characteristics for syndromes we’ve tested for, he’ll tick some boxes but not all. And that went for all the syndromes we were able to test for. Despite his developmental delays, Ewan is the most social, friendly child with an interesting, incredibly witty sense of humour. I refer to him as my ‘social secretary’ as he loves to plan our weekends, he needs to know who we’re spending time with and exactly what we’re doing!” she laughs, and Ewan nods his head in agreement.
“I would prefer some weekends to just ‘go with the flow’, but that’s not a concept Ewan understands. Routine is very important to him and knowing what lies ahead. He teaches me lessons that I never knew I needed, like patience and to live in the moment.”
Back to the topic of living in the moment, Alison muses about the future, and the changes she is making, built on a leap of faith and the culmination of 20 years of diverse marketing experience. Say cheese to Photie, a purely South African stock image website for marketers celebrating South Africa, its people and their creativity. “Photie is a valiant step for me as a business owner, to create something important for South Africans and the country’s creative industry,” she explains.
“Bravery isn’t about sitting at a desk, being time-bound and playing by the rules, it’s about making time, especially if it is time with my family. It will also give me the chance to spend more time giving back to the local community through initiatives I am passionate about, such as The Chicken Challenge, Child Welfare SA Nelspruit and Buy Local Lowveld. In the end, the quality of my life comes down to the quality of my contribution.”
Photie is a platform giving South African creatives an opportunity to earn additional income through their art, passion and skills. The best creative work starts with a captivating image that is, above all, relevant to its audience. “I have seen the need for truly authentic SA stock images, images made for Mzanzi” Alison smiles. “Photie strives to connect the creators of high-quality authentic South African images with a creative industry hungry to get real.”
The platform is for quality royalty-free photographs, illustrations and videos created by passionate, local freelance photographers, artists and designers. By building this bridge, Alison hopes to support and grow the country’s creative industry. In addition, content creators enjoy the most competitive reward for their hard work. “Users benefit from exceptional talent, in rands, and not dollars. By choosing images from Photie’s library, you are choosing to support local creatives. In addition, users will benefit from our library of relevant and unique images tailored for a South African audience without breaking the bank.
“Photie is just the start of my journey towards creating what I refer to as a ‘freedom business’. What this will ultimately mean is that I won’t be desk or time-bound, allowing me opportunities to travel and experience more of life on my terms.”
This bold and dynamic woman really does seem to have it all figured out. With a strong support system (Alison’s mother, brother, close family and friends) and “Team Ewan”, consisting of Ewan’s headmistress, teachers and therapists at Flamboyant School in White River, the sky is the limit. “I’m inspired and motivated by my possibilities, instead of trying to be like someone else, I’d like to be better than I was a year ago. I believe that we are not our circumstances, but rather our possibilities. And I believe that my current earnings do not define my worth, therefore I always need to value my efforts, work and myself. After all, self-worth should never be sacrificed for net worth.” We agree, and we cannot wait to see more!
[email protected] or www.photie.co.za