Let the adventure begin!

Thank YOU so much! We got enough orders to get started with our pilot.  Without your support, we would still be struggling to get funds. We have also used a lot of our own savings to make this happen. (Dear dad, send more money?….)  We are so thankful to you all, we kick started this together. The first 130 bags will always be remembered and we can’t wait to start making awesome bags for you!

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After 35 hours with travelling, I was pretty excited to see Iris again. I haven’t seen her since June, so we made quite an emotional scene at the airport. Running towards each other, screaming like in the movies. Haha…well, we couldn’t stay emotional too long. We had work to do. Loads! We went to see the ladies at Missibaba, it was good seeing them again. We still can’t believe the effort they made putting their production aside to help us make our prototypes. They did us a huge favour back then. Last time we had a month to prepare and make the prototypes. We were stressing and got really good deals with the distributors to make the fabric and equipment ready for us on short notice. They were like: “Girls, next time you need to have more time.” So this time we decided that 8 working days was enough…. You should have seen the look on their faces when we told them. “You didn’t learn a thing did you?” Well, at least now we know. (For real!) Being in Cape Town, you should allow yourself to have some free time, but this time it was all about work. At least we managed to attend to Rocking The Daisies, a music festival just outside Cape Town.

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We honestly thought 8 working days was enough to buy all the equipment we needed. Considering we knew the suppliers and what we needed, what could possible go wrong? Well, thinking back, I can’t differ the days because we were basically everywhere everyday. I wish someone could have filmed us. Driving up and down, arranging meetings, making orders here and there, buying leather, fabric, equipment etc. Normally it takes four to six weeks to make an order ready, but luckily they knew us and helped us out. We have used our “blonde smiling sweet cards” for now. At least now we can make orders directly from Zambia and get it shipped with a currier. Our network is growing, and it’s quite cool to reflect upon everything we have learned by doing this from scratch. I could never imagine this a couple of years ago.  I’m happy we made the dream a reality, cause now it’s actually happening. I guess it’s true what they say. To make dreams come true you need to step out from your comfort zone. Too many times we have absolutely no clue on what we are doing; only following our gut believing it goes in the right direction. We are slowly getting there, learning as we go and we love it! Studying entrepreneurship surely has given us knowledge, but you can’t make it if you don’t have the passion for it. Oh, sorry…. this was a digression! (“,)

Back to Cape Town, ordering fabric was a challenge. We had to make the pantones to use, which meant we had to stop by every second day to correct and approve the colour tone, and then again approve the sample. We were there 5-6 times before they started printing. A huge thanks to Aishah at Imaterial for the great service. We had ordered 250 meters of fabric from DaGama Textiles, which needed to be shipped down to Cape Town. Everything was ready, and then we got the message that the truck broke down in Port Elizabeth. It got delayed with two days. No, no, no! Got no time for that!

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Every time going to check on the fabric we stopped by MC Thompson to look at sowing machines. We got in touch with Dion Thompson who gave us an introduction course to the machines we were buying, because we are also rookies when with industrial machines. We bought two walking feet, a skiving machine and a longarm. He also helped us a lot; he even arranged the shipping for us. Not only for the machines, but he let us ship our leather, backing, villadin, handpress machine, fabric, the threads, buttons, snap hooks, rivets, rings and buckles.  He even picked up our fabric from Imaterial since it was still printing when we left to Zambia. What a huge relief not needing to bring it ourselves. We’re so grateful for the broad network we have established in South Africa and Zambia. Iris also had a trip to Zimbabwe to visit a local tannery there. In the future we want to fetch most of the leather locally, so Iris is busy networking and finding good solutions. She will tell you more about that later.

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To sum up the trip to CT was extremely hectic, and at the same time a great learning process. We have learnt about new machinery and received more knowledge about leather and fabrics. We managed to get everything ready in the last minute. We had a panic attach at Woodheads. We went there after lunch on Monday to find that the 500 labels they had made for us where defect, and in no way could be used. It was only one thing Woodheads could do, make another 500 labels in three hours. We were leaving the same night and they had promised to deliver. Five minutes past closing hour everything was ready. I mean everything. Peew..
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Time to breathe and pack for Zambia. See you on the wild side of Africa!

-Merete

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