I’ve had both the honour and pleasure of being invited to quite a few events through this little blog of mine – all of which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and always appreciated. However, I’ve got to say this event was truly something else! It was one where I walked away with more than just being entertained and informed by a company, or with an amazing little goody bag. Instead, I walked away enriched, encouraged and my mind brimming with the soul food that they had served up!
Not your average blogger event, now is it? Well, Kids Emporium is not exactly your average brand either – so it makes sense then, doesn’t it? And when you listen to the story of Lauren De Swardt, on her life journey that led to the rise of Kids Emporium, one cannot deny that it’s no wonder that they’ve grown to become the incredible brand that they are now.
It’s also clear that they’re not slowing down – as is evidenced with her latest franchise opening up in the UK soon! In fact with Lauren at the helm, I doubt the pace will ever die down.
I love hearing stories like Lauren’s. Stories of regular people, who take their ideas and pour an extraordinary amount of themselves, their passion, their sweat, tears, and incredible amounts of guts, balls and faith into making those ideas and dreams a reality.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, before we get into the power breakfast that it really was, let me set the scene a bit for you:
It all went down in the gorgeous surrounds of Constantia, in a beautiful old building that has the kind architecture that melts my heart. (I grew up at the breakfast table of the construction business, so some affinities are hard to shake.) And since Belinda (Of Making Mountains) and myself took the *cough* scenic route, we got an eyeful of it as we approached.
Once inside, I had some familiar friendly faces greet me, as well as a new but very welcoming face belonging to none other than Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp. What a cool surprise!
There was bubbly and an array of pastries and treats, all decandent enough to put me off coming back from my 5 year fitness hiatus for yet another day. Also, on entry and collection of name tags, we were each given a random picture of celebs like Fred Flinstone, Pinky and the Brain, Thelma & Louis, and in my case, I was given Angelina Jolie. These props served as part of a nice little ice breaker – find your perfect pair -which fitted in perfectly with the morning’s theme.
After cellular network issues “stripped” Jules (of Heart Mama Blog) and myself from taking home first prize with that “find your perfect pair” competition (#firstworldproblems) 🙂 , we all huddled in to the conference area where we were both entertained and blown away by Lauren’s story.
Thereafter, something different happened: instead of just hearing from our hosts, our hosts wanted to hear from us! And it was during this round of introductions, that you got the feel of just how much awesomeness you were surrounded by in that little room! Each woman right there, making her mark- her own unique mark in this world. What I loved the most about this round of intro’s, was that when they spoke of their chosen careers, they owned it! Whether it was a stay-at-home mom holding the fort down like no other, full time working execs, writers, magazine editors, drama school teachers, super multi-talented artists, or momtrepenuers, you name it! They shared bits of their life, little tit bits of their children and some more about their blogs. And I for one couldn’t have been happier to listen to them, as they gladly shared their accomplishments with everyone.
I think that there are far too few opportunities and platforms like this that allow women- mothers- to holler out and share just how badass they really are. How capable they are, and what they’re already doing.
Society has it all wrong: we’ve been conditioned to think that we are boastful or conceited if, God forbid, we are successful and then ever breathe a word of it. As if it needs to be kept under wraps or something. Apparently filed right up there with “Voldemort”.
In fact, never mind shouting it out from the rooftops or sharing it in the intimate setting that we had, how often have YOU acknowledged your own accomplishments to yourself? When last have you acknowledged just how much you’ve done in your life, and what you are accomplishing right now? As a mother, as a wife, as a worker, as a blogger?…As you?
For most, that may be probably hard to even answer. In fact, I think for A LOT of us it would be. It’s hard sometimes, right? (Thank-you societal conditioning! ) Instead, it’s so easy to listen to the booming voice inside that reminds you of incapable you are. You know that voice right? The biggest damn liar you’d ever come across. So, really, it’s time we change it.
Which brings me to the delightful Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, who isn’t just a pretty face with a stellar career, a mother, wine maker and oh, did I mention, who also has a blog?! 🙂 Not to mention that she also happens to just be very lovely, down-to-earth and made one feel as if you were old buddies.
That morning, after our individual intro’s, she delivered one of the most spirited and powerful talks to us, in a way that felt so genuine, left you giggling, but also hit home with me, on so many levels. She reminded me that I have a voice. A very unique voice. We each do, in fact. And that no matter how shared or common the idea or opinion we are conveying, it will forever remain unique to each of us – because it is of our own. It is through us that those ideas find their unique twist. She reminded us that it’s a voice that many actually listen to and more importantly, a voice that they trust. And that through this awareness, we must shift our mind-set from the misconception that we are only merely trying, but towards the fact that we are already doing!
It was honestly such a gentle and well-timed reminder about my own voice, and that it actually matters! We are to never underestimate that voice… Yes, that talk may have been addressed to us, as bloggers, but I believe this applies to everyone on any platform you may have in life; As an exec, as a stay at home mom, as a work from home mom, student, child, who-freakin-ever(!), your voice MATTERS! And YOUR voice can make a difference. Your voice has the power to create ripple effects in this life and in others’. Whether you’re influencing that intern, or your CIO; Whether you’re the President leading your faithful followers, a journalist reporting, or doctor advising, or whether you’re helping to carve out the fragile self-esteem that a small child has of themselves: Your voice matters…so make it count.
We each have the ability to use it wisely, to pour ourselves into our passions and to hold tightly onto our self- belief to manifest our dreams into reality. It’s just waiting on you to take that leap.
But you know what also helps? Having someone believe in you. In this world where there is certainly no lack of naysayers, the ones who DO support you are like freakin’ gold!
And that’s certainly one of the many gems that I took away from Lauren’s chat: She spoke of following your heart, and how much she credits the good people that believed in her and supported her fully, back then right when she needed it. And even as much as she cringes now about her very first pitch to them, if this breakfast talk is any indication of the kind of passion she wielded back then, then it’s sincerely no surprise that she’s a force to be reckoned with, and why they backed her anyway. They recognised her as their “perfect pair” – and boy, were they on the money!
With Lauren and her team still pouring their hearts into the business, Kids Emporium will remain the phenomenal brand that it is. And I will forever remain humbled and grateful that Kids Emporium felt that I am one of their perfect pairs! Here’s to the “power of us”!
Which reminds me, watch this space for an AWESOME giveaway brought to you by Kids Emporium and The Milk Memoirs!
Now, in the mean time, do me a favour? Think of all the amazing things you’ve already accomplished with your life, what you are busy accomplishing, all the big dreams you have and how very capable you are in achieving them. No matter how big or small you think it is, I want you to acknowledge it. Acknowledge how amazing you are! Any negative thoughts that may sneak in to kill you vibe, just zap them away with even more positive thoughts. Drown them out with that soft and steady voice that knows better. You are already amazing, and you are capable of incredible things in this life. Embrace that! Heck, grab it by the cheeks and give it a big fat smooch!
Thank you, Lauren and team, for being part of my tribe through this empowering event. I don’t think a single soul left there not feeling encouraged and inspired by it. Well done, guys! Here’s to strong, successful and empowered women: “May we know them, may we raise them, and may we BE them…”