Thursday, December 3, 2009

where have I been ???



such a long abscence from my queenly post ............ I have been away, extending the queendom, and boy was it hard work ! Phew. I never realised that being queen of rain could be so demanding and exhausting.
But there has been adventure and excitement and adrenalin.
Three new stores since we last spoke - YES THREE.
And to crown it all, one is in Amsterdam. What a dream come true. Our very own homegrown south african brand called Rain now has its own branded store in Amsterdam in the historical canal district of Nege Straatjes. PLEASE grace us with a visit when next in Holland - you can even pay in euros !
It was a privilege and experience living with our franchisees for two weeks, riding to work by bike ( me sitting side saddle like a lady behind George - who had to pedal hard to make it over the bridges ), buying our food from local bakeries and cheese shops, sipping Koffie verkeerd in little sidewalk cafes and generally soaking up the amsterdam scene.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SWELLENDAM STORE MAKEOVER


Took the plunge and painted the Swellendam store in a paint called " Ja Boetie Johan ".
I love the effect with the moody Rain clouds brewing

Monday, September 21, 2009

peacocks & piledrivers


The Spa from Hell
The setting was perfect. A crumbling 15th century Rajasthan palace fort in western India. Perched on the side of an acaia forested hill, with guest rooms oozing mystical magic, hanging gardens, fountains, ponds, turrets, terraces,mazes, secret nooks and crannies. Frequented by mournful peacocks, wild green parrots, monkeys, squirrels, swarms of huge bees.
I was on a marathon fabric buy-athalon in India and decided Sunday called for some downtime. Two hours out of Delhi – there it was – a fantasy hotel clinging to the hillside with impressive views over the village and Rajastani plains below. It was perfect.
But what is R&R without a good massage or spa treatment – I said to myself . Went to the dungeon to sign up and was told there was only a male therapist available. This dismal news resulted in my down grading from a full body package to a head, neck and shoulders deal. Note to self : – NEVER again agree to a male therapist !
an Indian man loves to  parade his strength and manhood – hence the peacock as the national bird. So, having a desparate need to impress me with his brute strength, he proceeded to attack my head with the vigour of a borehole driller, determined to get the coconut cream into the depths of every single hair follicle on my scalp. The pile driving was interspersed with slaps to the crown and violent tossing of my head to and fro. He hurled my cerebellum from one extreme of my skull to the other , pummelling and shaking it like Krakatoa on a good day. I could bear it no longer.
I ordered him to stop immediately – ‘ok, lets move onto the shoulders “ I firmly suggested.
Well, the man had dead hands. No life, no feeling, no passion, no sensitivity. No pizzazz . I so pity his wife .
I gave up, ordered him to stop and asked to be shown to the shower. This was an experience in itself – no door, only a stone three walled cubicle in the foyer area offering no privacy whatsoever.
I left that spa feeling like a newly ploughed field after the oxen have passed over. Four washes later and the coconut cream still refused to budge from my hair.
So much for my R&R

Monday, September 14, 2009

New kid on the block


Guess what I've been doing ?
Working that's what. And here is the proof - a beautiful new store in Somerset Mall.Born on Thursday 10th - 10 days of labour pains ! I have a sore behind, stiff legs and arms, extra wrinkles and a few grey hairs. But it was all worth it .

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rules Laws and General Queening



So, what does she do all day ..... you may ask ?
Well, I queen
( when not shopping that is )
I do queenly things like leading my little company, making tough decisions, solving problems, keeping peace among my subjects, passing rules and laws etc.
It is tough being the boss. Sometimes I feel like a mommy bird coming home to a nest of hungry open mouths – all demanding from me all I have.
As queen I need to earn the worms – that is my job. Providing provisions providentially

Thursday, August 6, 2009

sharp nails,sharp heels, sharp tongues

SHARP
Some days I find myself asking how I got into this industry of sharp nails, sharp heels and sharp tongues.
At heart this queen is a tomboy – happiest in jeans and tennis shoes, sun on my face, out in the bushveld in an open jeep scanning for game. If the truth be told, that is what wholly and entirely feeds my soul – pure unadulterated honest NATURE.
I am currently at that age where friends are turning into grandparents. Where faces are being tightened and tits sharpened. So, do I succumb ? Or do I sag gracefully and allow my character lines to tell my life story.
I do sometimes question what kind of advert I am for the products I make and sell.
My answer is Nature & Natural, Organic, Eco friendly & Biodegradable. No synthetics – only wholesome honest and true.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

karoo heat


Karoo

The Karoo is a darn hot place. No, perhaps this is an understatement. Karoo is a simile for hot, hot and more hot ......... oh and add to that dry, arid, extreme, isolated. It is the place where the ultimate status symbol is the size of your irrigation dam.
It is a place where even your Estee Lauder Foundation runs, and where no amount of your Fendi eau de toilette can disguise the smell of perspiration.

People who live in the Karoo are tough sunburnt Afrikaner farmers – salt of the earth types whose joy in life is to collect sheep and more sheep and to keep the hungry jackals at bay.They thrive on the solitude and isolation and position their houses at the end of long dusty roads so that they can see the dust from potential visitors half an hour ahead of time - in time to put the moerkoffie on the Aga stove.
Occassionally one retreats to the Karoo to look at stars and to listen to complete silence. It’s very nothingness, space and solitude is very therapeutic if you can stand the heat.
Rain falls rarely in these desolate parts, and yet day after day the scrub waits patiently for a small reprieve.
On a recent escape to the small karoo village of Prince Albert, my man and I sat on the stoep of our little karoo huisie for hours just watching a rain storm gathering over the mountains. The morning topic of conversation in the village was only about rain – will it come or won’t it. After endless speculation and peering heavenward, it eventually began to cool down and the dark thunderclouds converged.
One, two, five large remote drops on the tin roof, and then it let go, hitting the dust with fragrant droplets big enough to hold a goldfish. Palpable relief for the foliage as the organic rain descended – fresh, pure, & cool.
The smell of rain on African dust mingled with wild karoo herbs, quenching a parched and thirsty terrain – reminded me again of why we chose to name our bath range Rain.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

more sorrow

The Rockefella store is off. I am devastated & heartbroken.Essentially our dearly beloved bankers of 20 years have dropped us - after keeping our hopes up for five weeks. Somehow they have gone into this mode of 'frozen deer in the headlights " since the country entered recession three months ago. And we are one of the casualties. Strange though how their advertising media shouts about "growing your business from where you are to where you want to be " etc etc - puke puke.
Anyway, I am philosophical and faith filled. God always knows what is best and it is in Him I trust and not my dear sweet bank manager.
So, it is back to the drawing board as they say in the corporate world. For me, it is back on my knees.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time To Say Goodbye


We have lost a precious friend.
Leon died last night in a head on collision. ( the man in the middle of the photo ).
It is a sore time and we feel desparately aware that only one tiny breath separates this life and the next.It has caused us to take stock of our lives and our relationships, to look back on the good times we shared with him and to value the friends left around us.
He mentored me in my business, he was my husband's adventure buddy and his son is our son. We will miss you Leon

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Delta Disaster

Delta airlines have to be the WORST airline in the world. And I have travelled. Short haul flights may well be bearable but long distance - never again.
Cabin crew come stringy and frizzed like a bad perm - slapdash slapstick straight from a Carol Burnett Show- oh so tired.
Ground crew are the sum total of the word rude.I don't know how they sleep at night.
There are no little touches or bits of love to make you feel special or aid relaxation - everything is the barest threadbare clean picked bones - a municipal bus with wings.
And did I mention that I endured four nine hour intercontinental flights within six days with no personal TV screen.
Tatty cabins and stinky loos make you wonder if the engine oil is managing to find its way to its destination.
No seriously now, you can honestly give this airline a miss and take the long route across the atlantic via sydney if need be. It is just not fit for a queen.

The Rock in The Big Apple


You will never guess where I have just been.......
New York.
Yip
The Big Apple
....and for what purpose you might well ask ?
Well to do my queenly duty of approving store locations I might answer.

So, the secret is out. Rain is opening a store in New York. Isn't that just awesome hunnee? and it is in a prime prime location in central Manhattan theatre district right between 5th and 6th avenues. Radio City Music Hall, Anthropology , Nine West and Godiva are our neighbours.
Oh fame at last .
Of course the lease has yet to be signed - we still have some minor haggling to do but it is 99.99% said and done. It is unbearably terrifyingly exciting and thrilling. Our first international flagship store.
All sorts of self doubt creep up on one - even on a queen - and one begins to wonder - is Rain really good enough, can we pull it off , are we fooling ourselves to think we mere african mortals can achieve this ?
And in the next moment all the creepy nagging lurking doubts are shoved away and the happy blessed thoughts take over and one realises the true miracle of it all - that God has really made a way for us, and all we need to do is step forward in faith one foot at a time.
I can't begin to describe how challenging and exhilirating this all feels.Parachuting has nothing on this adrenalin rush.It is also a bit like soul pilates - I feel stretched in every direction by the challenge of making this happen.
On a less intense note, the week long stay at my partners' Simon and Hendrien's home near Conneticut was like a dollop of green in an ocean of hard New York grey.
They live in a forest of horsey farmlands with rivers and lakes for neighbours. On our daily game drives I notched up sightings of three deer, a racoon roadkill and some perky live squirrels.
I was treated royally (one could expect this being queen) with Simon bringing me coffee in bed in the morning - what a good man - and Hendrien feeding me with healthy organic stuff. I was however left with a deep sense of pity for them having to cope without servants - Heaven forbid !

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

pumpkins and patience


You may well be wondering what is happening with Amsterdam ..... well so are we. We are all anxiously and patiently waiting for a store location to confirm itself so that we can all LEAP into action and make it happen. Patience patience patience. In the meantime we are growing pumpkins.
Here is my gardener Delight - also known as the Green Machine.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Store hunting in Amsterdam


Amsterdam was so much fun - I had to smack myself to remember that I was actually working . Oh I LOVE my job !

My gracious hostesses and franchisees - Esther and Marianne - pedalled me around Amsterdam in the bakfiets looking at store locations. Now I am told this is not normal practice - such vehicles are strictly for the use of children, dogs and shopping. This might explain the smiles, waves, frowns and comments I received like " very chique " !! Well I just don't care - it was superb fun and I could really concentrate on the serious job of looking at locations instead of worrying about mad cyclists approaching from every angle, traffic driving on the wrong side of the road and camera happy tourists who do not look where they are going. I could focus. And focus I did. On the breeze in my hair, the beautiful tulips in the flower market, the crisp fresh green spring leaves on the trees, the boats plying the canals...........oh, and of course, store locations !!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Amsterdam

Amsterdam and our FIRST OVERSEAS FRANCHISE !!!!

I am so excited I can barely sleep. I leave in an hour for Amsterdam. After almost a year of patient and diligent negotiating with two awesome ladies in Holland, we have signed a licensee agreement with Esther and Marianne for the Benelux countries. Their franchise store in Amsterdam is to go ahead as fast as possible to be ready for season, and I am off to help them chose a store location.
What an amazing privilege for RAIN. I am over the moon. It is a huge leap for us from a sleepy village in the Cape to a mainstream branded franchise in central Amsterdam.
And these ladies are dynamite - they are going to make serious waves in Europe -I feel it in my broek.
Watch this blog for the next exciting episode !!
bye

Easter and the Great Trek North


Easter and the Great trek north


Easter weekend saw the mass migration of Rain workers up country to the Eastern Free State and mountain Kingdom of Lesotho – 12 hours drive to the birthplace of Rain.
The excitement was palpable – some of the workers only see their families three – four times a year. Migrant labour is commonplace in South Africa. Poverty and desperation force breadwinners to leave their families and seek work where they can find it.
It is deeply humbling to see these men and women uncomplainingly leave the love and comfort of their family lives and travel to work far away – unselfishly sending all their money home to their loved ones and living on the barest minimum for themselves.
Some of our Rainmakers are Zimbabweans ( South Africa officially has 3 million Zimbabwean refugees who have fled a despotic president, extreme poverty and starvation and a cholera epidemic to try and find a means of survival in South Africa. These people work only to send money home to their desparate families whose expected lifespan is now at 36 years of age for a man ! These are brave people who have left their homeland to face hardships and uncertainty in a new country with a xenophobic people who lash out and kill Zimbabweans simply for “taking their jobs away “. It is not a pretty picture.
We are privileged to be able to make a difference in these poeple’s lives – to be able to throw them a lifeline and watch as they gradually get back on their feet and have their smiles return to worried faces. It certainly keeps things in perspective and keeps one eternally grateful for everything we have.

Friday, April 17, 2009



Just back from a long weekend trip to the region of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. The land of long grass and high mountains. Went looking for baskets . Found big sky, autumn golds, fresh air and warm hearted people

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Electronics versus scones


Electronics versus Scones

Had a fragrant drive in from the airport - thanks in no small part to the sign on the taxi driver's dashboard !
Woke up in a pokey Hong Kong cubbyhole of a room with a full blown headache from hell – no doubt caused by an event the previous evening when I was mercilessly ripped off by a pimpley slanty eyed boy in an exchange booth. Threw the proverbial tantrum – ranting and wailing like a toy toying Zulu, but to no avail.
Decided only a Starbucks grande latte extra hot was all that could mend me, so went off pounding the streets of Kowloon in search of one.
Perched my buns in a comfy starbucks wingback which was literally hovering over the harbour water amidst ships and other harbourish related things – and slowly I began to find my equilibrium.
Caffeine injection complete, humour intact, I set out to pavement slog – searching for electronics for our stores. ( shopping for electronics must be a “boy thing “ because it really does nothing to turn me on.)
In between boring electronics shops, to maintain sanity , I nip into the occasional street market – selling piles of exotic fruit, barrels of spices, buckets of dying fish, flowers and plants unfamiliar to me, tourist trash, temple candles and fake money.
Back to the electronic stuff. Phew – you need an IQ of 148 to understand the stuff, and well.......... I just don’t qualify. ( I can spot a fake Louis Vuitton bag though ).
More information overload and I still have no clue. Oh well, I will just have to go and find a nice cuppa tea .......... and a scone. ( Hong Kong ought to do scones – the British were here long enough to have taught them something valuable ).

Monday, March 23, 2009

delusions of grandeur

You may have noticed the title I have bestowed on myself.
Rain queen.
Lets just call her my alter ego. You see, I was born average. Very average. My family was your typical middle class common and garden peanut- butter- sandwiches and fish on a Friday night variety. No illustrious ancestors, no major achievers. Just honest and hardworking.

I was marginally above average at school only because I loved it and had a bunch of teachers who loved me, but I exhibited no visible talent or sporting prowess at all.
So, I was destined to be ordinary. It is what God gave me ( someday I plan to ask Him why ), but in my heart, I rallied against ordinary, mediocre, average. I wanted to really achieve at something – anything. Just to get me off the path of mediocrity. I tried many things – psychology, antique restorer, would be landscaper in charge of plastic tulips at Sun City casino, amateur chef, hotelier, waitress, auction house trawler, plant propagator. All of them had one core element in common – entrepeneurship – I have for almost my entire working life , been self employed. I was the only one who wanted me . Just as well as I don’t think I am cut out for the cut throat corporate world, brown nosing and red tape.

What I want to do, I want to do NOW. It is my motto , my credo – the Nike slogan – Just do it ( and NOW ).

But on a more serious note, deep down, I am convinced that I should have been born royal or at least titled. I would have been an asset to the nobility – never revelling in my means or station , but exhibiting philanthropic, well meaning behaviour .

Alas it was not to be. But in my own business, where I make the rules, I can lay claim to the title of Rain Queen. Or perhaps not – that title belongs to Miss Swaziland. Ok I will just have to settle for the “ Queen of Rain” .
My little company is the jewel in the crown of my life’s work. It is what I eat, sleep, dream. I selflessly give it my all ...... and more. It has hurt me more deeply than any other single event in my life, and it has provided unparalled joys and highs. Nothing I have today has come easily, without blood, sweat and many tears. I am quite convinced that God has used Rain to build character in me and I am constantly hoping that He is now satisfied with the character part and will let me get onto the fun bits of being Queen.

Oh , one can only dream.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ok, so I am a novice. Never blogged before. Where does one start, and is there really a beginning ?

I suppose it would help to tell you why the heck I am doing this . It is basically because I long to share. I am an exhorter and giver by nature. At my very core, I love to share, to give , to mentor, and to encourage and uplift others. So maybe, somehow, somewhere, sometime these blog rambles may well give someone a glimmer of hope, or a lifeline in a tough situation. It may well encouarge a would be entrepenuer to take the plunge or gamble on a risk. It may inform and inspire - this is my hope and intent.

My little african company called RAIN is a daily challenge , as well as a source of joy and thrill for me. The characters who work for me, the bump and grind of daily factory production interspersed with adrenalin charged disasters, opprtunities and hopes - all rolled into exciting exhilirating days - are all too good to keep to myself. I want to share what I have with the world, giving you all a peek into the daily life of a crackpot entrepenuer near the southern tip of Africa whose dream and vision is to give jobs, create hope and help meet needs.
Now that all sounds so mushy and goody two shoes.But it is not really so - my motives are not entirely selfless. I also aspire to elevate myself from the current role of worker - doing anything and everything that my hand finds to do to make my little company tick - to a more queenly role - with servants and things.
I like nice things and I adore travelling to nice places. So, I work and I work and I work. Happily and with a spring in my step I might add. But oneday, perhaps I will be able to delegate more, smell the proverbial roses and buy my clothes in boutiques rather than department stores .


So, stick around, I hope to entertain you, make you laugh, make you dream, make you cry, as I share with you the inner workings of my little company called RAIN.