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Gift local

Risk-taker. Adventurer. Entrepreneur. Barefoot dreamer. Meet Linda van der Walt. An optimist who sees opportunity in every difficulty. And it’s this positive mindset that’s made her the owner of not one, but two curated gift shops. And she is smiling for miles.

While the 2020 hard lockdown was bad for many businesses, some saw an opportunity. And jewellery designer and owner of Fabrikate Linda van der Walt did not only see an opportunity, but created one for fellow artists and creatives.

She realised that many of her friends were in the same almost-sinking boat. So, she headed to social media and created the Pretoria Products page on Facebook and Insta. There she introduced and shared all her creative and artistic friends’ products. From clothes, bespoke cakes, jewellery, homeware, artisanal chocolates to ceramics and … the list goes on and on.

Linda did all this with the hope of spreading some positivity, the hope of motivating, uplifting and inspiring. And oh boy … did she do just that! Pretoria Products quickly became a buzzword with the locals, and the social media pages grew with a rapid speed. Creators started engaging and collaborating with each other and Linda could not stop smiling.

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“It was such a major fist-pump moment! So many people responded that they are in awe of the local talent in our community. There is a huge misconception that beautiful products could only be imported. So not true! And although the majority of creators we’ve featured are from Pretoria, we’ve really found some incredible creative gems across the country.”

Linda quickly realised that there was a need for creatives to showcase their work too, so the moment it was allowed, she started to host markets … places for people to meet the makers behind the products. Several successful markets followed. Then came loads of enquiries of where people could buy what they’ve seen at the markets. And the seed of opening a shop started to grow. Eleven months since she created the platforms on social media, Pretoria Products – the shop – became a reality. First in Hazelwood, and a few months later a second shop at Afroboer. With roughly 100 artists and creators supplying these shops with their products – think clothes, homeware, glassware, ceramics, fragrances, candles, sweet treats, jewellery and and and – this has become the ultimate place to easily max out the credit card!

“Was it challenging? A tad crazy? Yes and yes! Starting a business from scratch and with minimum capital is daunting, especially these days. As a new business in retail, you start every day on zero. Thank goodness I start each day with big dreams and high hopes for my shops. Because with passion and hard work, that’s all you can do. If I can go back in time and tell myself one thing it would be ‘girl, put on those big girl panties, you’re going to need them. Retail and opening a business are not for the faint-hearted.’

Linda chuckles and says she does little fist pumps whenever a client walks in. “Hey, I don’t take any sales for granted. I celebrate the small victories daily. Like to be able to open the doors daily, seeing the smiles and appreciation on clients’ faces, sending out parcels to packing a beautiful gift box.”

Although Pretoria Products is still in its crawling stage, Linda, who is mother to a 13-year-old son, Noah, plans to take it to a running toddler. Apart from hosting workshops (by the way, there is a flower crown, macrame weave and watercolour workshop coming soon, keep an eye out for the deets on the social media pages), she hopes to franchise Pretoria Products.

“With a little help, from who knows where, I would love to showcase all the local products I source all around our country. There is so much talent all around us. That’s why I always say, in a world where you can shop anywhere, shop local. It makes a huge difference to support a small business.”

Apart from all this, Linda also plans to do yoga retreats for groups of women to explore India. A few years ago, she travelled to India, got introduced to yoga and fell in love with it. So much so that she went back to qualify as a yoga teacher and came back offering classes for women with anxiety, depression, insomnia and general loss of self.

“During the yoga movements, it literally felt like I’m stretching my whole life back in place. Everything that was stuck in my body – grief, loss, physical pain and burnout all just started fading. A lot of women said that they want to experience India, but not alone. The trip will include daily meditation, breathing practice, yoga, shopping and exploring all the places I love. Just to create a balance in your life again. A free spirit myself, I believe it is important to look after all parts of your being.”

Six tips for any entrepreneur who wants to start a business:

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously and be authentic. Instead of cracking the whip when you make a mistake, try cracking a joke. Also, being true to yourself and your business and honest with your clients and customers relieves anxiety many of us don’t realise we hold onto. It frees up energy that would normally be consumed by maintaining a facade.
    2. Give your best every day and be consistent. Being consistent in business builds trust and improves efficiency.
  2. Surround yourself with a like-minded network because it is an integral part of growing a business. Avoid the negative complainers, the lazy, and unmotivated and those uninterested in personal growth.
    4. Stay on top of your admin. Every. Single. Day. Delaying the inevitable will only make you feel stressed and frustrated. Make the time and commit to getting it done, you’ll feel so much better when it is.
    5. Remember to have fun. Somewhere along the way, many entrepreneurs forget to have fun with the business. After a while, you might get bogged down with details or you might get burned out. But you know the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” When you don’t have any fun with business, you run the risk of losing your drive and failing at your goals.
    6. Be resilient. Every day will be a very different road than what you envisioned. Be okay with change, be okay with pivoting, and be okay with falling down and getting back up quickly.

Linda’s dream gift hamper includes:

If anyone was planning on surprising Linda with a gift hamper, this is what she’d like inside …

  • An artisan chocolate bar that looks like a piece of art. We have ones that are wrapped in the most beautiful sparkly paper. When unwrapped you’ll get a colourfully decorated chocolate bar that looks like art. My fave is the Milk Chocolate and Popping Candy. It makes you feel like a kid again!
  • Scented candle. It can do wonders for your mood, or awaken a sense of calm in the mind. There is also evidence that the right smells can help reduce anxiety, promote wellness, and in the case of lavender in particular, even help with chronic pain!
  • A beautiful handmade soap. The soap in the shop looks like pieces of art. Not only that, but they smell divine.
    Whipped shea body butter. It can also be described as a body soufflé … rich and nourishing, definitely worth the pamper status.
  • Ring dish. Because you need a home for your bling! The dish will keep your rings and special jewellery safe and organised.
  • Silk scarf. Scarves are a versatile and subtle way to change an entire outfit. The scarves we stock are made out of 100 per cent silk that shouts fancy. The scarves are dyed with plants directly out of nature. The roots, leaves and flowers of these plants are used to make beautiful patterns on the scarves.
    • Jar of infused gin pearls. These liquid-filled pearls will jazz up the look and taste of every glass of gin you enjoy.
  • A beautiful diffuser. Because who doesn’t like a lovely fragrance to fill your home or workplace?
  • A funky clutch bag. Velvet, printed canvas or Vaux leather, every woman needs a statement clutch.
  • A voucher for a yoga class. Everyone needs some time for self-care.

Details: pretoriaproducts.com or follow @PretoriaProducts on Facebook and  @pretoria_products on Insta. Pop in at the Hazelwood shop, 20 Firwood Road, The Village or at Afroboer, corner of Meerlust and Lynnwood roads, Equestria.

Text: RIALIEN FURSTENBERG. • Photographer: STEPHEN SEGAL. • Make-up: HEIDIE FOURIE. • Hair: JANINE LATEGAN. 

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