I’ve never met Olivia in person, but from our chats I can just tell she is an amazing women, mom and a kind soul. She is a connecter and a front runner in the baby industry. Olivia juggles alot of ventures, including her very successful brand, My Tiny Teepee. So I just knew I had to feature this super mom for Mothers day Month as our May, Mumu on the Move.
Photo Credit: Heathyr Huss Photography
What do you love most about being a mom of two boys?
The moments when you know all the sleepless nights have been worth it. The moment when you realise it’s been quiet for 3 minutes and you walk into the room expecting the worst and find them playing cars together. Those are the moments I live for.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career path so far (background, education..)?
I’m a Pretoria girl who now lives in the loveliest of lovely Cape Town. The loveliest! I’m a jack of all trades it seems (except accounting and law – I would fail miserably I’m sure if I even attempted going near them). I studied Environmental Sciences and later became a Town Planner and eventually ended up writing Children’s Stories for television. In comes 2 gorgeous boys. Then a mamma from Durban – and so MY TINY TEEPEE is born. My new baby. Our new Baby.
Photo Credit: Heathyr Huss Photography
How did you come up with an idea for your business? What prompted you to start a business?
My mamma needed some love and she is an extremely talented woman – she had been making goodies for years for the odd person (teepees included) after she closed down the clothing manufacturer and embroidery studio and I merely saw that, and harnessed her creative power and pushed it into our new little business. We started out making a ton of goodies and eventually settled on Teepees and accessories as the only product. And so it was born. From Pain came a Wealth of happiness. The community stepped in and it became a business overnight. In the beginning we were offered help with marketing but literally couldn’t accept because she simply couldn’t keep up. There are only so many hours in the day to make small humans happy. Eventually it’s grew and with that capacity. That’s when the marketing bit became fun. Became a challenge.
What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?
Gosh. Golly golly gosh. Um….. nothing really. I know that sounds weird. I think in a couple of other interviews I’ve said there were struggles BUT after a while I’ve realised that they weren’t struggles – they were stepping stones. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for the STRUGGLES that we faced. So I’m changing STRUGGLES to BLESSINGS. It called the “silver lining approach”. I don’t know if that’s a real thing but hey – now it is.
So to answer you. NOT A SINGLE THING.
Photo credit @followingthebean
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
OOOH my best – love with your whole heart. Love every single thing you do. If you don’t then change it. Make your business suit you. Make your love into money.
Internet is a noisy place and to make your brand stand out from the crowd, there are lots of things to consider. What are your top strategies/ tools to stand out in a sea of beautiful products and brands?
Million dollar (Rand) question –
– If your current situation isn’t working – re-invent yourself. I rebrand every so often to change the look and feel of the company based on constructive criticism. We have grown from mistakes. It’s what everyone should do.
– Aim to be stronger than people around you.
– Don’t ever be phased by Competition. It’s not worth it. Be strong and grow. I’ve taken all the energy and put it into growing stronger.
– Be true to yourself. This is your BRAND so show people that because a personal touch shines through.
Photo Credit: Heathyr Huss Photography
What do you feel is most important to consider when defining a brand’s voice?
The heart and soul behind the people who created it. The story. We all have a story. Some are sadder than others. Find strength in it and shine. This is your voice.
Tell us why do you think cross-marketing is so important for your business?
I love cross marketing. It’s my favourite bit. Sometimes I’ll write about other people’s products more than my own. We are all small. We may as well band together to be bigger – Bigger and better. That’s what the community around us did and we wouldn’t have a business today if it wasn’t for that initial boost. This has backfired in the past because of not clicking on a tag – but hey – I’ll still do it. Over and over again.
What is your philosophy for balancing life as a working mom, staying organized and sane!
I’m an incredibly OCD Virgoan human being BUT it’s worked wonders because of the way that I’m always organised. You need to be able to work ten times faster than anyone else when you’re a mompreneur because the kids are screaming and frankly – no one likes screaming kids. Get the work done and get on over to the babies and play with them. Work faster. Work harder. Work when everyone is sleeping. Wake up earlier.
Photo credit: Christaan David
What does your typical day look like? Schedule-wise.
You’d laugh. It’s a mish mash if kids, Instagram, Facebook, incredible food, incredible friends, mundane chores, minimal sleep – I’ve even standardised my wardrobe and bought 8 black identical tops and 4 identical pairs of jeans so I don’t have to think about what to wear. Every day it’s the same. A black strappy top and black jeans. Slimming of course. Thanks Black. If you ever see me in anything else – it’s because it’s a rare occasion or I’m on a date night.
What has been the most surprising thing about becoming a mother?
How little sleep a human can live on. I’m amazed I didn’t check out years ago.
AND how much love a human heart can generate! I’m amazed I’ve not exploded yet.
Where do you draw inspiration?
Puzzles pieces in my sleep. My head is a very busy place.
My favorite is a book called OK OMIN KÄSIN – I’ve often referred to it in my original posts of our Tangram Teepee. That’s where she was born. My favorite Scandinavian DIY pattern book. If you can get a copy of it – get it. You can transform your world into Scandi-heaven with easy to do projects. <Omin käsin – translated means roughly “made with your own hands”. I adore this. I smile every time I hear the words. I’ve literally pointed hundreds of people at this book.>
Our sister company in Australia has been so supportive and have given us endless love. Bouncing ideas. It’s incredible finding people in a similar position. It’s all a bit Origami to me. Little puzzle pieces.
Simple, clean, uncrowded design is key. Our teepees are also quite different from most as we use braiding on the apex (a word I incorrectly used to describe the top triangle of the teepee – but it’s stuck. I’m always surprised to see how many other people use it now. It’s like MUGGLE – apparently a common word.).
We placed a appliqué Swiss cross on the teepee for our Dutch friends – simple but undeniably delicious – this is one of our best sellers. Trendy but not gaudy.
Keeping an eye on trends also sparks different branches of the imagination. I’m always fascinated by other companies abroad – incredible creations.
In the end we all have our very own undeniable look and feel. That’s what makes this so awesome. You can pretty much spot it a mile away. That makes me smile. Admiring other brands but staying different. That’s the key I suppose.
@meinbuntesteepee – have the most incredible fold over design for their doors and internal fabric colour as opposed to outside. So different.
@fromtheavenuedesign who on their fabric. One of a kind and truly magical. I take my hat off to artistry like that.
@daphneandrose started hand painting our teepees to create a subtle ombré effect. An awesome collaboration.
@woodlandwovens has the most incredible lace panelled Teepees – organic heirloom Teepees. Truly special.
@my_little_teepee inverts their material for effect – incredible. I often get confused with them because of the name but their touch is unmistakable.
Our clients also play a large role – on a weekly basis I get drawings of Teepee ideas that have been floating in parental heads. This is our favourite part – recreating, embroidering. Adding bits and bobs to make someone’s idea into a gift for their child.
What are the top 3 things you think a mom can do to “have it all’?
1) Accept that you have it all already! Start appreciating it instead of chasing it.
2) Stop worrying about your clothes. Buy 8 black tops and 4 pairs of black jeans. You’ll never have to worry about wardrobe choice. Thanks again Black for your slimming qualities.
3) Make an effort to see your friends more. Stop making excuses. Get off your bum and get out of the house. Quickly. The world is waiting out there. Waiting for you to grab it.
And boom – you’re happy, you look good every day, and you have your friends. You HAVE IT ALL!
Photo Credit @nestlingphotography
What are your favourite activities to do with your kids?
Cape Town is the most incredible city – it lends itself to so many outdoor activities. My favourite is probably hitting a wine farm with the kids. I’ve actually just come back from one now. Children playing on open grass. Friends. Animals. Wine. Heaven. Point.
What recent work achievement are you most proud of?
Being able to focus on others for a bit. I’ve been taking on Brands to help and it’s been so much fun. Delving into other product lines.
Photo Credit: Heathyr Huss Photography
Please tell our readers more about the amazing charity you are involved in?
Ah….. my heart. Best! I always tear up when I write about MILK MATTERS. A couple of years ago I started a little charity drive called DRESSES FOR LIVES. We wear and record wearing dresses every day of December and get people to pledge per day. All money goes directly towards providing valuable Breast milk to micro-prem and premature babies in the Western Cape. It’s been the most incredible journey with them. Please visit @dressesforlives and follow. You’ll see updates during December.
This past month I was at a sermon and Pastor Charlotte Gambill talked about; we as women should set each other up to win. Almost like your win is then my win. How do you feel about this and how important is it for women to support each other?
I love it!!!!!! Of course. It’s how we all win. It’s the act of selflessness. Now, it’s not always easy – I’ve been in a couple of situations where I’ve been tested BUT I’ve learnt the following in the last year –
1) If you don’t have anything good to say – keep quiet. Keeping quiet is the loudest siren.
2) Even if you’ve been hurt, get up and start again. Help others and gain strength from situations.
3) Be loyal to those you love.
4) Support at all costs.
5) Click the picture and look for tags. You’ll be surprised. Not everything is as it seems.
6) Live from within and practice what you preach.
7) Never be a kettle or a pot. It’s too hot. I’d far rather be someone sipping a cold glass of white wine someone else is cooking in the kitchen.
You help friends and brands (myself included) with Instagram Marketing? Tell us more?
Ah…. it’s the best. I call it #livstergram – if a page looks familiar – it’s because the owner and I have put days and days of love into it. It’s got my mark. I wish wish wish I’d had someone to lead and guide me through this IG world. To show me how to optimize it and how to make it work for me. I didn’t but I can try and help others.
What is the most valuable lesson motherhood had taught you?
Patience. I’m still learning. I’ve still a lot to learn.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS :
Barefoot/ shoes? Barefoot – except if there are crumbs. Then shoes.
Bold jewellery or delicate? Delicate.
Must have in diaper/ mom bag? iPhone 😉
Ocean or forest? Forest – I live in one. I’m biased.
Favourite colour? Grey.
Fav kids snack? Penguins from Woolworths.
Fav food? Thai
Holiday spot? Thailand.
coffee/ tea – tea.