Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Exploring: On the road with four kids

A lot has changed in my life ever since the birth of the twins, life revolves around them a lot. As a mom of four kids who are at different age gaps, my biggest challenge is finding activities that suits and interest the whole family. My first born who is 15 years of age does not enjoy tagging along to kids friendly restaurant or to the zoo anymore. My princess who is 8 years of age wants me to spend girl’s time with her most of the time. Last but not least the 17 months old energetic twins are exploring and very much dependent on me to keep them safe, yet allowing them to run free and wild. I am always being pulled to different direction by the demands of being a parent and also a professional.  I love travelling and I believe that everyone has a drug of choice and travelling is my drug of choice. It is very import for my kids to grow up knowing that travelling is a lifestyle, they must explore our beautiful country.  Ever since the birth of the twins, my biggest fear has always been if I will be able to cope with going on holyday with four kids?
Figure 1 the children’s pool area
Planning and bookings………………. After years of looking and wishing, I am glad that I have finally found a travel company that caters for my travel needs. I am able to call them and they have a list of reputable resorts that they are able to present to me and I am able to make a quick decision. They booked me into a Tsogo Sun resort named Umhlanga Sands Resort, in Umhlanga Rocks in KZN. I must say knowing that the resort is part of Tsogo Sun, sort of put my mind at ease. I did not even bother to do much research about it. I knew the basics about the resort, all the rooms in the resort overlooked the sea, I will have access to the beach from the resort and it’s a five minutes’ drive to Gateway mall. Let me confess this was my second trip in less than three months in a Tsogo Sun resort. So the basic information I had was good enough for me. I needed the break, the whole family needed to break away from the familiar everyday routine. School during the week, a play date for the sister on weekends and a walk in the park for the twins, Sunday church and its Monday again, back to school, homework, projects and yes watching the twins 24 seven, so that they don’t kill each other. Yes I said it. I spend most of my time pulling them apart and trying to figure out who started the fight this time around.

Our booking was for the 23 – 26 September, for a 3 nights and 4 days stay. I spent most of my Friday buying necessities for the trip, swimming nappies for the twins and swimming costumes, I wanted to make sure that they fully enjoyed their time playing in the sand and splashing in water this time around. It is never easy walking around with toddlers in unfamiliar places, it takes less than a minute to lose a child, so I unashamedly bought safety harness backpacks. I always have to be extra careful when travelling with the twins. Twin pram does not work for me as it just fills up the boot, and besides the twins have figured a way of freeing themselves from the pram even though I buckle them up, I always find myself chasing one twin while I try in the same breath keep on an eye on the other twin who is also trying to unbuckle himself. The night before I made sure that everyone packs their bags, I packed the necessary food, drinks and snacks that we will need for the road.
The road trip………… I set my alarm for 3 o’clock just before I go to sleep, my plan was to make sure that everybody showers and we should be on the road by 3:30 am. Unfortunately I did not hear the alarm go of, and we only ended up starting the 580 Km road journey at only 4:00 am, not so bad I thought. Thanks God that I always fill the tank, check the oil and tyre pressure a day before my trips. The first mistake I made was not to check the weather focus, I would soon discover. There road was quite, no heavy traffic as I expected because of the long weekend. The road was covered by mist and it was not very visible, making it impossible to see the road ahead.  What I like about travelling long distance with the twins is that they turn to sleep for long hours which makes my life easier, but if they ever get restless I always have a nursery rhymes app waiting and that has proven to be a sure winner so far. I try my best to enjoy the drive, than just concentrate on getting to the destination, so I always incorporate a few stops in the garages where I relax and let the boys run around, needless to say a 6 hours trip ended up being an 8 hours long trip.
Figure 2 A view from our room
The resort and facilities: I must say only when I arrived at the resort and while queuing to check in I started worrying about questions that I should have asked or at least googled about the resort. The friendly efficient check in process quickly put me at ease I must say. The second thing that put me at ease was my eldest kid’s facial expression, he sure was glad to be there and he was curious and ready to explore. We were booked on the 8th floor, in a 4 sleeper, with a full bathroom and a kitchenette and yes, the most important part for me, with a view to die for. What I love the most is that despite the temperamental weather the sea facing room where made for any kind of weather, you can sit and meditate while listening to the crashing of the waves. The view from the resort is just picturesque, something out of pages of a travel magazine. Just what I needed. My older kids went downstairs and discovered the treasure hidden in this resort. The resort has an entertainment area for kids, an extensive entertainment program and a kid’s swimming pool.
Figure 3 Toddler's play area
The excitement in my children’ s face was a dream come true, it is every parent’s dream to put something together  that caters for the whole family. My 1st born was quick to come up so that he can take the twins to explore the access controlled play area. The play area is separated into age appropriate groups. They had a colorful indoor play area with soft toys. I would go there and just sit for hours with a book while the twins play. They also have a swimming people that catered for toddlers and the twins enjoyed splashing in the water. My son and I enjoyed the easy access to the beach promenade for walks, He enjoyed PlayStation tournaments that they would have every night, the soccer tournaments, I never had to worry about him and his where about. My daughter loves, loves swimming, she would spend most of her time in the swimming people, playing in the water slides and participating in the different games that they would play in the stage in front of the swimming people.  The resort also had movie nights and they also organized a “bring and braai” on Heritage day. It really felt like home away from home. 
Figure 4 the twins relaxing at the pool
What to do around Umhlanga Resort…….. On Sunday we drove 20km to Durban north beach to browse around the flea market, I heard you can get so good bargains there. Unfortunately what I learned quickly is that it is not a conducive place to take toddlers, they wanted to run around and also just take whatever caught their eyes. My focus quickly changed from shopping for bargains to running after the twins.  We also managed to spend a few minutes at the Victoria Market down town Durban, but as I said never a good idea when you have toddlers, so it’s on my to do list next time I visit KZN. The best option for me was to go back to the resort and use their facilities. I have decided that I will be visiting here annually and hopefully next time I will go scuba diving, visit the Moses Mabhida’s stadium and also visit the Ushaka Marine.  There is a still a lot for me to explore in KZN. To be continued ………………………………

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

ToastMasters Journey

I had the opportunity to be part of a Toastmasters club a few years back, I actually went through the whole nine yard, registered and did my first speech. Unfortunately, life swallowed me and I dropped out. Fast forward to 2017, a colleague invited me to a meeting for kick starting the Toastmasters club at work I decided to take the opportunity without thinking twice. I guess the year 2017 is a year of dusting myself and polishing my skills. I honestly subscribe to self-improvement, learning new skills or polishing skills.

What is Toastmasters about you may ask? Let me share with you what I know so far about the concept. It is basically a nonprofit organization that teaches people about public speaking, communication, and leadership skills. You organize yourself, form a club and follow a set of rules and guidelines provided by Toastmasters Organization, to master the art of public speaking. The organization has been operating since 1924.

Why would anyone want to improve their communication or public speaking? My question is who would not want to improve their communication and leadership skills in this day and age? We live in a fast pace environment where making first impression is key to getting your message across. I have embarked on a journey to profile women entrepreneurs, from all walks of life who originally hail from my home province. I take this very seriously, I want to give it the attention and professionalism that it deserves. Toastmasters will help me polish my communication skills. I will get better at interviewing and presenting each and every story with clarity and energy it deserves. I am hoping that I will learn from this experience and grow as person. Spending time with Rachel Gadisi of RachelG Cake and Party has also motivated me to never stop learning and polishing my skills.

Going back to Toastmasters, I attended the first meeting and I must say I am excited already. The previous club president was more than eager to walk us through the rules and process of the club. Toastmasters is well structured, members give speeches, take meeting roles, and give guidance and feedback. There are roles that must be field by different members during each and every club meeting, this is meant to improve the member’s leadership skills.  It is about strength building by giving constructive feedback in a structured manner. I learned a lot from the meeting, it is not just about your written speech, but a combination of couple of technics in order to deliver the message and connect with your audience. It is about writing a speech that will talk to your audience not at them or talking past them. A good speech is 53 % presentation, how you present yourself, how you engage and connect with the audience. The tone and pitch of your voice also plays a big role when delivering your speech. I am going, to be honest, this is one area I am looking forward to mastering. I get very nervous and my voice fades away, I look forward to learning how to channel my nerves and speak with a stern confident voice, whether I am interviewing, presenting or selling something. I am looking forward to my journey into becoming a better communicator.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Woman behind the Business with Nyadzawela Rachel Gadisi of RachelG cakes and Party

The size of South Africa’s events management industry is growing. The demand for events planning, from a kiddies party to a wedding is increasing by the day. As more black people participate fully economically we have seen the rise of the middle class using the services of events planners or services that were not previously made use of.

Genesis ……………..

Rachel Nyadzawela Gadisi is a 4th born child of a Venda traditional artier maker, she was raised in Shayandima in the far north of Limpopo. Her mother started by selling traditional drink (Mabundu), and then went on to make Venda traditional wear (Minwenda, vhukunda na vhulungu). You can say that she was raised in a creative environment where entrepreneurship was the way of life. 

Her road to Damascus:  Schooling and Career …………………………..

 She attended high school at Dimani agricultural high and took Home Economics as one of her elective subjects. I have always assumed that Dimani Agricultural High was the perfect school for her, but after our casual chat, she explains that she should have never gone to a high school like Dimani if she knew any better. She blames the lack of career guidance in our schools as her reason for taking a long road to her passion, she believes that she should have never attended a school like Dimani Agricultural High which was known for Mathematics and Science. Looking back she should have been enrolled in a high school that would have natured her artistic and creative side.  Rachel went on to obtain a Diploma in HR, when she could not get a job she did not sit back and feel sorry for herself, instead she enrolled on a short course in Emergency Care just to secure a job.  By day, she is a part of the Johannesburg Emergency Contact Centre team, and on the side, she is building her Cake and Party company. In a country where unemployment is high and the world facing an economic crisis, we need more of her kind.

Business, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy………….

In many ways, Rachel has been a trailblazer for entrepreneurship in her community. Her case is special because even when she could not get a job that she studied for, it did not stop her from turning a page and writing a different story for her future, she took a leap of faith and her rise to prominence has been fueled by her hard work, a vision, and faith.

She started her Cake and Party company by organizing Kiddies party back in 2010, she would source her cakes from different suppliers. It was after getting negative feedback from her customers with the birthday cakes that led her to a path of baking and decorating her own cakes, so that she could directly own the supply chain. She knew that if she baked and decorated her own cakes, she would receive the criticism as a learning curve for her. She took it like the professional and went to improve her work and that translated to her getting better at her craft. Her approach to business can be directly seen in her having loyal customers who don’t mind ordering from her from as far as Limpopo. Her free time is spent fulfilling orders that need to be delivered to North West province and her home province Limpopo. Rachel has a tendency to befriend all her customers and letting them know her personally, you end up feeling like you are the most important person in her life

“When I started it was not easy, but I persevered. It took me years to build my business to what is it today, the first chair covers and tablecloth I ever owned were handmade, thanks to my dressmaking skills I learned from my Home Economics class and helping my mom in her business. I recall taking a taxi to the Oriental Plaza to buy the material for the chair covers and tablecloth, and I used a pattern that I was given by a certain gentleman in Dobsenville to make them".
This picture was in 2011 somewhere in Roodepoort..Huildekruin.

Splitting the red sea …………………The assistant she received
I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear, the quote by Rosa parks comes to mind when Rachel explains to me how she funded her business. A mother of three, instead of fearing the worst, it became her driving force. She took a leap of faith and went into business with no funding or financial assistance. She explains that she mostly depended on the support of her friends and family. She would take from her savings, her bonus and stokvel monies and invest it into her business by buying assets. 
Rachel believed in her business and she did not only feel the need to invest in the business but also she invested in polishing and improving her own skills. She has in the past years enrolled in different courses and workshops to upscale herself. She has attended Traditional cake deco,  flower arrangement class, just to name a few, she actually says she has attended a total of ten classes. I must say there is a lot to learn in how this dynamic woman runs her business and pride herself with her work.

“I have learned a lot from running my own business, you need passion, tenacity, and drive. You have to live and love what you do. I started the business with my own savings, Stokvel and my bonus money. I would plan ahead for my bonus and when it comes I will invest it into the business, I would buy all that I need to run an event, be it a kiddies party or a wedding, from Jumping castles, chairs and I also managed to convert my garage into my workshop and bought a commercial oven.”

Let me hold your hand lets walk on water ……………….

Rachel believes that it is important to surround yourself with a good supportive structure, if you don’t have, create one for yourself, she says. Her family, friends, and community have played a key role in helping her grow, yet one particular friend and mentor always stands out: Tshililo Muthige has been there for her since the first day, offering her business advice and support. Getting a mentor, someone who’s been there, done that and learned lessons the hard way is indispensable. I must say, listening to stories of women who are there for each other is refreshing.

Services that RachelG Cakes and Party offers:

She offers a full on events management for her customers”
 Party or Events equipment:  Chairs, Tables, Crockery, Plates hire.
Services: Decoration and Flower arrangement
Baking: Custom made cakes, cupcakes, and scones

Greatest achievements so far …………

She shares her greatest achievements as being able to grow her business, she has been able to accumulate assets, from chairs that she is able to hire out to her customers, and other entrepreneurs in the same industry. She also recalls a time where she would deliver goods in her private car, and now the business has grown to allow her to invest in a company car. Her work has been featured in the magazine like Weddings. Having one’s work featured in a magazine is very encouraging, it is an affirmation that you are on the right path………………………………

Plans, hopes for the future……………..

It has not been easy juggling her day job and perusing her dream, but her job is necessary at the moment and time in her life. Her business is like a 4th child to her, it still needs her to invest in it. She would like to see her business grow and employ people in future. She currently conducts basic cake decorating classes.

Give and it shall be given back to you …………………
Rachel is a mother of 3, a sister, a friend to many, a full-time employee and an entrepreneur. To add icing and decorations to her colorful rich life she still makes time to give back to her community. Rachel will always send out a Facebook post and what’s app message at the beginning of the years to remind her friends, family, and colloquies about the Phalaphala FM school shoes drive. She will encourage everyone to get involved in donating a pair that is collected and distributed to school kids who would otherwise go without for the whole year. She has also created a group for all the former Dimani Agricultural High School pupil who are interested in getting involved and what they do there is they keep in contact with the school management and help where they can. They will buy the school uniform for school deserving kids. She recently hosted her 40th birthday celebration, and the entrance gift was a box of sanitary pads that she distributed to schools. I think you can agree with me that Rachel is selfless woman with a heart of gold, making a positive impact in other people’s lives, whether it’s with her family or their community through initiative or business


Facebook: RachelG Cake and Party
Contact Numbers: 083 240 4437
Instagram: Rachelgadis_Cakes