Friday, 9 September 2016
The entire month of August has been full of celebrations and ponderings of what it actually means to be 20yrs old in retail.
In human years, I feel like I have only ever been on two sides of twenty. As a young child I would always say “wow, 20 is so grown up”, and now in my end thirties it seems so young and I have moments of wishing I was 20 again!
Twenty is an interesting age. You really start feeling like an adult at twenty. You think you know everything about everything at twenty. The world is at your feet, you are more care free, you’ve tossed the shackles of school aside and everything is now finally possible! It’s only when you reach your latter twenties that you realise you were still a baby at 20 and actually had no idea what you were talking about.
In retail, twenty years old is something totally different! Twenty years is not the beginning of adulthood by any means. If you have survived 20 years in retail, you already have a few grey hairs I can tell you. You are mature, but not old. You are not the new kid on the block that gets chewed up and spat out anymore. You are kind of like a fine bottle of Brandy, a 20yr bottle of KWV if you will. Bought on occasion, savoured and enjoyed by those that love you already. By now, customers know you. They know what you look like, what you have to offer and what they can expect from you. The challenge is to keep them excited about coming back to you.
Clothing retailers use seasons to keep you coming back. They take us from Spring to Winter using different styles from around the world. We wait in breathless anticipation as to what is coming next and as the big sales hit to clear out the season that is nearing an end, we start getting excited about what the new trend will be.
Food retailers on the other hand, might change their menu around a bit to suit the seasons, or add new flavours to already popular dishes or drinks. Electronic stores will always bring in the latest and greatest to replace the last latest and greatest before you can say “outdated”.
Well, here at Crafters Market, we play the same game but with a twist. You see, being a company that does not bring in its own stock, but rather affords small businesses and Crafters the opportunity to trade in regional and super regional malls, we have a constant turnaround of Crafters and stock. This keeps us exciting as we have such a wide variety of products in each store. We don’t get to go on sale to clear out the old stock as our Crafters can constantly check their sales and see what stock has lost its appeal, what stock is flying off the shelf and rotate their range as often as they want.
Our only challenge is coming in at the right price. With most of our products being hand crafted and not just imported from China, we do sometimes struggle to compete. The difference would obviously be in our quality, but with everyone needing to tighten their belt even more with our current economy, we sometimes find ourselves being the second choice to customers.
What most customers don’t know though, is that at Crafters Market you can pretty much find anything for anyone across all budgets. We have some unbelievably well price products that are an absolute steal! The challenge for our customers would be to find these products. Our stores can be a little overwhelming at times with the amount of great Crafters we have. If you had to have a proper browse at every product it could take you a while.
Luckily we have very hands on staff! Each staff member knows every product and Crafter backwards. If you had to walk in our store and say “I am looking for a gift for a woman and my budget is between R100 and R300”, they could take you through all the Crafters within your budget in no time at all. They are also all aware of which Crafters in our store can do customised gifting if you wanted that extra special gift. The only challenge for you as a customer would be to use our staff to your advantage.
It’s tough to not have a knee-jerk response when welcomed in a store and say “Hi. I’m fine thank you. I don’t need help”. I know I do it. As soon as someone greets me, my first response is “No thanks”. Really? No thanks! I once had a beggar at a robot ask me for change and I said “No Thanks”. When I drove away I just burst into laughter. It doesn’t even make sense, but I have programmed my mind with a two word response to not be bothered by anyone.
Would it really be so hard for me to say “Hi” back to someone when they greet me in store? If you actually look around at staff sometimes, they look more scared to approach me than I am to be approached by them. This is probably due to their heads being bitten off by people like me saying “No Thanks” to a “Hi”. I have conditioned myself to the point that I am completely unapproachable and then when I do need help I complain about what poor service I get. I am not disputing though that there are some staff members out there that do not care about their job and no matter what you do, service will be shocking. But do I ever take the moment to distinguish what kind of store I am in? What is the energy like in that store? Are the staff hassling me? Ignoring me? Pushing for a sale? Or are they merely saying “Good Morning. Let me know if I can help you”.
At Crafters Market we try and keep our staff motivated at all times to be of great assistance to customers. Not to push sales, but to educate customers on our products and assist them in finding what they want amongst all our other treasures. They are the map to lead the way to your final purchase.
So what has 20yrs in the retail industry taught us? Customer “experience” is very important to us, not just customer service. Our stores are magical lands to get lost in, but when someone needs something in a rush, we are ready to get them in and out with the right product in their hand.
I leave you with a challenge: Trust us to give you the tailored customer experience you are looking for. And we hope that you keep challenging us to give it to you!
Happy Birthday Crafters Market!
Blogger: Yolande Niemandt
Tuesday, 31 May 2016
So here we are... Autumn is in the shadows of the once coloured trees and winter is laid out before us in 3 in-stall-months of Cold, VERY cold and in the last month it’s a little less cold, so now you can start looking forward to spring.
I don’t know about you, but I for one am a summer baby. Oh South Africa is such a great country to live in during these seasons. Let’s not lie, we have it easy during the cold months in comparison to some other countries out there. With clear blue skies above us, all we need fear is that dreaded wind that pierces through any number of layers of clothing you might be wearing.
For me, this time of the year is generally hibernating season. Get home from work, make a quick warm dinner and curl up on the couch with my blanket and stay as roasty toasty as I possibly can. Weekends have much the same couching activities unless invited to a restaurant or someone’s home with a fireplace. My outdoorsy nature takes a quick 3 month break till spring arrives. Spring has this magical power surrounding it. It somehow makes me feel re-born, re-vitalised, rejuvenated. Probably all that energy I saved up over winter! I want to start exercising again, eat healthy, re-decorate, fix the broken dining room chair that has been broken for 6 months, spring clean, go to every outdoor event, re-do that coffee table that I have been meaning to do for the past 5 years, listen to music at the highest of volumes because I’m so happy, make something special for someone (also been meaning to do for at least 3 years), bake, find new recipes, shop till I drop… and so much more.
Cabin fever broken and world re-embraced! Here I come…
Where do I get the time to do all of this you ask? I don’t. I am so busy exercising, going to events and socialising that I don’t want spend my time at home, trapped like I was for the past 3 months, bound to my chores of fixing broken chairs, re-decorating, re-doing coffee tables and making things. These were once considered my great new projects. Now diminished in my mind I cast them aside for another day, another month, another year. Well I am here to tell you that this year I am going to put a swing on things. No more hibernating on weekends during the perfectly dry weather conditions. No more waiting to feel inspired by spring to re-do anything. Inspiration does not have a season I tell you! Doing these great projects while they still feel great in my mind now during winter, allows me to enjoy them and show them off during my summer pool parties.
Where did I find my sudden inspiration that gave me my light bulb moment? Besides the obvious shop I love to be inspired in, Crafters Market, I recently came across a little book by Penguin Random House called “Make your Home”. Upon reading the book, I realised how many of these and my projects are done indoors, sheltered from the harsh elements I so quickly hide from. Simple, easy to do projects from creating a gift wrapping station to making your own stencilled décor boards! The authors cover topics like Storage, Lighting, Walls, Furniture, Fragrance, Prints and so much more all jammed in 75 Décor and lifestyle projects. With this amount of content, there is a little something and even more for each personality type out there.
With easy to follow instructions and great photography this beautifully made and well written book gave me the re-juva-inspiration required to ignite my eagerness and willingness to get cracking on my projects. I absolutely love crafting, upcycling and repurposing things around my home, and so do these authors. What better time to do this than “now” first of all, and also “now” while I lie in wait for my precious warm months.
Being the avid crafter that I am and also want to be, I always have a certain amount of standard items I have in my project room, also known as my “do not disturb me when I’m in my workshop” room. It was a pleasant surprise to see that I can do so many of the projects in my new “Make your Home” book with what I have already purchased from Crafters Market. Namely: Craft paint, Chalk paint and liquid wax, Modge Podge, Stencils, Pegs, Craft glue, Stamp kits & inkpads, Paint brushes, Wooden cut outs, Washi Tape and Ice cream sticks.
The first project I am going to be doing from this book with my Crafters Market goodies is “Herb Markers”. When spring comes around I always like to plant some herbs and veggies. I just love this cute and very trendy idea of marking what I have planted. I will never find the time to do it while planting and will just tell myself to rub the leaves and smell it to find out what it is. So, I am going to prepare myself before I procrastinate or talk myself out of such an easy and beautiful project.
If you want to be inspired like me, you can purchase Make your Home or the Afrikaans version, Skep ‘n Tuiste, from http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/make-your-home/6021. Then contact or head over to your nearest Crafters Market store, we have 13 stores across Gauteng and Mpumalanga, for your craft supplies.
Remember, there is no better time to be inspired than now. Re-ignite your creativity!
Blogger: Yolande Niemandt
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Human beings are known to be selfish creatures. The least selfish of these creatures I believe, would be the Mother variant.
Once a woman becomes a Mother, her selfish ways are put behind her and she only has one focus. Her Child. Granted, this is not 100% true for every variety of Mother. There are bad Mothers out there after all, but I am here to talk about the good ones.
As a tender new born, we are one hundred percent reliant and in need of our Mothers touch and care. She feeds us, she clothes us, and she gives solace to our aching hearts. As we grow (so quickly I might add), we start developing a certain kind of independence. There is this want, this desire, to do things for ourselves.
This independence thing starts off at a young and tender age. We already start by wanting to feed ourselves when we are not even really sure what this thing called food is yet. In the process, we feed our whole face, our pants, the furniture surrounding us and any clever animals we might own that are preying on our every sloppy move. In your face Mom… in your face dog... In anyone and everyone’s face!
Next, we want to cloth ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we have mismatching socks with our Wellingtons boots accompanied by lime green shorts with our favourite button up shirt, our Zorro mask, Superman Cape and three sweat bands running up one arm. It’s all good Mom... everyone at the wedding will love what I’m wearing. Good times!
The next thing we want to manage is our time. We want to choose our bed time, our bath time, and when we want to do our homework time. We know what we need to do, and we know with every inch of our heart we definitely do not want to do it right now. Now is not the time. Later sounds much better.
And so it is. We take one thing at a time away from our Mothers and claim them as our own. Needless to say, our Mothers are constantly on the side lines telling us what they think of our decisions, not quite releasing or cutting the apron strings, but instead using them to guide us through these decisions and trying to assist us in making the correct choices in life. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we don’t. Sorry Mom.
These are the hardships of Motherhood. When we need them, they are there. Even though while growing up we reject them on countless occasions and test them to the ends of the earth and back, they are there when called upon.
What a special kind of love it is that they have to offer. Unending, unselfish, pure. What a special warmth we feel with every hug. None other can wipe our tears away like our Mother can. And, no other quite understands us as our Mothers do. A Mothers love and support is something special to behold, something to hold on tight too, and something to be remembered and cherished with every breath we are privileged to take.
So here’s a verbal toast to all the Mothers out there. Enjoy this special day dedicated solely to spoiling you and thanking you for all you have sacrificed for us. Cheers, to being the best Mom that someone could have!
Author: Yolande Niemandt
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
You’ve all heard that saying "In this world, there is nothing certain, but death and taxes". I would like to add one more item to that sentence. Work.
So I know there is a small percentage of the population that don’t have to work due to having enough wealth to sustain them. And then we have the odd hippie that decides they want to live in a cave off the land. That’s great for them, but for the majority of the human population, work is something we can't decide not to do.
Work = Money, which in turn = food, clothing, roof over your head.. blah blah blah.
Work = Money, which in turn = food, clothing, roof over your head.. blah blah blah.
This work thing can be such a drag though. From young we were asked, what do you want to be when you grow older? Then when we reach high school, we have to select the subjects that will help shape us for our future. And lastly, for those that get the opportunity to study, we once again choose who we are going to become. We choose this future job that will make us happy for the rest of our lives because it’s our calling, because we love it, because we were born to do it! Let’s get real.
There are the select few in life that know what they want and have this calling or purpose in life. For the rest of us, we started off wanting to be a Fireman or Ballerina, then came the Race car driver and Singer, then we hit high school and it was Sportsman, Artist or anything that seemed “cool”. Then we eventually get down to decision making time and pick whatever seems the least likely to bore us to death but make the most money.
Others that don’t get the chance to study find their lot in life by starting some random job which ends up leading to the next, and then the next opportunity. They tend to find their weaknesses and strengths out early on and just follow and grow with their strengths grabbing every opportunity that comes their way. Fact is, no matter if you did or did not study, we all hit that point where work is just work. That’s if we let it be. Whether you are a store manager, accountant or movie script writer, there are the days that you just don’t wanna do it. The days where you feel flat, just want to lie in bed and not deal with another customer, balance sheet or annoying actor. Every job has its ups and downs. The only question is, can you have a CAN DO attitude in the current job you are in? (Credits to my CEO for this expression). We have the power to change. Change our job, change our attitude, change our general wellbeing and mind set.
You know that feeling of not having gone to gym for years and now you need to start going again? Or you’ve been getting up at 7:30am every day and now you need to change to 6am? It’s tough! Especially in the winter months. But the more you force yourself to do it, the easier it gets. You start seeing the positives like how much more energy you have and how well you sleep at night because you are exercising. You see how much extra stuff you get done in the morning by getting up early which frees up time in the evening to do things you love. The only way to crack something is by forcing yourself to do it and then making it a habit. Only then, will you see the positive things all around you. You also have to practice being positive remember. Think positive, be positive and positive things will happen!
So then, how do we apply this in a work situation? Maybe get to work that 15 minutes early so that you can have your 5min catch up with a colleague, grab a cup of coffee and start your day relaxed instead of stressed. You might even need that extra 15 minutes to go through your emails and get the head start that will make the rest of the day feel like a breeze instead of always being behind trying to catch up. I know you what you are going to tell me. The company does not pay me for that extra 15min! So what? They are also not going to pay for your heart attack.
We need to stop thinking so clinically. If you start good habits and start loving what you do, then you don’t even notice the extra time you spend there because you are happy being where you are. Also, once you are happy and stop procrastinating and moaning, you will become more efficient and probably not need to work that extra time because your great attitude will get things done faster.
The same way we make choices in everyday life about being positive about our Country, Racism, the Rand/Dollar exchange, we need to make positive choices about our career. Happiness is a Choice. We can choose to make the best with what we have. In all honesty, if you do that, you will probably find that more doors of opportunity will open up for you. If you decide to wallow in your self-pity and do the bare minimum, what employer in their right mind would promote you? I wouldn’t. If you are still not happy in your job, but followed this advice, then you probably would have found renewed energy and mind set to actually make a plan of action to get a new job. Either way it is a win for you.
We need to “own” our life and start taking pride our back. Let’s be proud of our Country, proud of our Family, proud of ourselves and proud of the job we do. To serve is an honour. And in every job is service, whether it be to serve a customer, or an organisation that serves a purpose. We all serve whether directly or indirectly. So why not do it like we want to do it?
In today’s cut throat retail industry, customer service is what is going to separate the cats from the pigeons. We at Crafters Market pride ourselves in our service. We want a warm friendly environment that welcomes every customer and allows you the freedom to browse through all our Crafters. This is where you come and shop for gifts, Home Décor or decide on that something you are going to be making for your room or school project.
Crafters Market staff are not only there to assist with products, but with knowledge and opinions that could help make your decision just that little bit easier. Our Crafters go the extra kilometer (supporting local language) to help with customised orders and our store staff are waiting to go the extra kilometer in store just for you!
We a proud to serve you!
Author: Yolande Niemandt (yolloger.blogspot.com)
Sunday, 21 February 2016
I could write a book at this point about my opinion of the incidents and news headlines over the past few weeks with regards to Universities and the students across South Africa.
I could also write a book about our President, Nkandla, E-tolls, Eskom and water shortages. This is all easy to write about and easy to focus on, as negativity is such a good spreader of negativity. These topics fuel my passionate inner voice to the point where I feel the need to go and shout it out from the mountain tops for all below to hear.
To hear what you ask? My opinion of course! It would be so much easier if everyone could just understand “My” point of view. “My” opinion. Then all would be well. Right? Let me tell you, a rant is quicker and easier to write than writing about the POSITIVE things.
Positive things always seem “bubble gum’ish” and seem to make little to no lasting impression. It is racism, poverty, loss and violence that fuel our emotions. Well let me tell you, we are NOT the only country with these issues. We all know the famous old saying “The grass is not greener on the other side”. The truth is... The grass is greener where you water it.
Each of us have different personalities, and no matter what country you are in, everything is always dependant on the situation you find yourself in, the circumstances you are surrounded by, and the company you keep. We are all born into something we did not choose. It is what we do, with what we were born into, that counts. Do we water our own grass and therefore allow others to see a beautiful garden that inspires them to grow their own? Or do we keep fuelling the fire that ultimately destroys all. At Crafters Market we believe that we are watering our own grass by having a company that allows small South African business’s an opportunity to trade in big malls. This in turn helps the crafters brand to grow which could lead to more job creation for South Africans. So in effect we are all helping each other.
One of my favourite quotes and mottos in this life today is “Be Kind to One Another” by Ellen DeGeneres. It is such a simple line, but such a powerful one, with a world of possibilities surrounding it. If only it was downloaded to each and every one of our hard drives from birth. Oh wait. It was. As we have grown up and been exposed to the cruel world out there, we have slowly but surely put up walls of protection around us. So much so that we don’t even greet someone in the same elevator as us for fear of a conversation, an awkward moment… rejection.
We, a species of social beings, are so reserved and afraid of contact with other humans that there would be no reason why we would be kind. No reason to look after any but our own. But somewhere inside each of us, there is this gut instinct. Something we used to follow so freely but quickly learnt to suppress. Every now and then when we drop our guard we do let this instinct thing take over, but because we use and trust it so little, it tends to run wild and hurt us because we have no control over it. Then, instead of learning from our mistakes and fine tuning our instinct, we shut off from interaction and go into self-preservation mode.
I’ll give you a good example. Two nights ago in the hotel I am currently staying at, they had a bit of a musical comedy going on downstairs in the hotel bar. Halfway through the show, the one performer sang a golden oldie from Frank Sinatra. As I scanned the room of people and saw how memories were flooding back to some of the elderly that attended the show, I noticed a woman in the front row in tears. Her friend turned to console her during the performance and afterwards the performer went over to her and kissed her hand with a heart-warming look to say sorry for how she was feeling. It was a genuine act of kindness that I had witnessed right in front of me, which then in turn fuelled that passionate inner voice of mine. I had this burning desire to speak to the lady and to brighten up her evening. I wanted to take her on the dance floor and dance with her to set her free from the pain she felt from obviously losing her husband/partner recently.
But on the other hand the voices in my head were saying “she does not know you…”, “she will think you are weird”. I had a genuine fear within me and nerves that could shake my skinny legs for days. On any other given day I would have felt that instinct to approach her, pushed it back down, said it’s not my place, and moved along. But on this day, this very night, I had a few drinks prior to this all transpiring before me. So my “Klippies Cape” of bravery was on. Don’t mock the cape, it’s a real thing!
Anyway, back on topic. So with my cape on and my knees shaking I approached the lady and asked her to dance. Her answer was, “I can’t”. There it was. The rejection I feared so much. Shot to the heart, and you’re to blame… instinct. Stupid instinct. Stupid cape of bravery. I took it with a smile, and as I was turning to run from my utter embarrassment, she pulled me down on one knee where she was sitting and explained that she had just had an operation and could not dance. But if she could, she would have loved to. Within a few seconds I went from utter embarrassment to a tear rolling down my cheek as she told me of her late husband and how she missed him.
It felt as though the entire room was looking at me as I got up and walked away. But I walked away feeling fulfilled, like I had made a difference. It’s called kindness. And kindness does make a difference. Sometimes it’s a kind word, sometimes it’s a small gift. For each situation there is a different solution to make someone’s day.
So as this new week is upon us, the message I would like to bring across is, don’t fuel the fire, but rather water the grass. Look around you for people in need of a kind word, a hug or a small gift. We are all on our own journey experiencing our own pain.
There is nothing quite like an unselfish gesture towards another person whether you know them personally or not. It can even be an anonymous gesture. Keep it small, keep it simple and keep it real.
If you are looking for a place to get that small gift, Crafters Market is the best place to shop as our variety is beyond compare. Whether you personally know someone or they are a stranger to you, you will be guaranteed to find something. Not only will you be kind to that person, but also to your country by supporting a local crafter. Lets water our own grass.
Happy Monday and remember… Be kind to one another.
Author: Yolande Niemandt (yolloger.blogspot.com)
Thursday, 18 February 2016
As I sit thinking about the state of our country… the water shortages, the exchange rates, the petrol going up… *again*… I start to think about how I as a South African can make a difference.
Not only do I want to make a difference to my planet, my country, my fellow man. But I want to make a difference to “me”, to “my” attitude, to “my” surroundings. But isn’t that where it all actually begins anyway?
Once I start changing my attitude, my way of thinking, my buying habits... I will start affecting those around me. Then those people, in turn, will start affecting their social circle. And this is how one drop in the ocean can become a tidal wave!
I am so tired of hearing how China and the likes are polluting our planet, but no country stands up against purchasing from these countries as their goods are “cheap”. Their labour is “cheap” and ruling the world so it seems. I’m sure you have all heard the stories by now of countries like Scotland sending their Cod caught off the Scottish coast on a 16093.44 Km trip to China and back again to be filleted for their supermarkets as it is cheaper than employing local labour to de-bone and fillet the fish. Similar stories including Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, are sending part of their catch of Alaskan salmon or Dungeness crab to China to be filleted or de-shelled before returning to U.S. tables.
The reality of this seems so unreal and unfair to me. How many people within their own country have lost a job opportunity to this? Purely, because Chinese labour is cheap! But then, should we also not be feeling sorry for these Chinese labourers who are working for these measly wages under poor conditions? Sweat shops, as they are known, have even reportedly put suicide nets up around their buildings to stop overtired and overstressed workers from plunging to their deaths.
The question is… can I do anything to stop these sweat shops, imports and loss of jobs from happening? The answer is no. But, if I start making small changes in my purchasing habits, I can make a difference to someone in this Country, my Country. As the saying goes, “Local is Lekker”. We just don’t know how lucky we are to live in a country where you are still able to “start your own small little business” that can pay the bills. Conglomerates have not quite taken over all aspects of our fair Country just yet. So within this lies our opportunity.
When it comes to our electronics, cell phones etc, I say sure… we don’t exactly have many other options and cannot stay in the dark ages just to stand against “The Man”. But when it comes to gifting, home décor and food, local is the way to go. With exchange rates climbing, our gifting and home décor items are on the rise. But our local products from Crafters Market say it from the heart. Our local products have our flavour written all over it, and better yet, it comes from a place of hard work, intense labour and attention to detail. Our crafters at Crafters Market are always trying to listen to what people want, what the new trends are, and work hard at producing those items for you. Most of our crafters even do customised orders to give the detail and colouring you need to meet your specific requirements.
We as a nation have started becoming a lot more craft orientated due to great apps like Pinterest showing us the way. So let’s go local where we can. Let’s support the South African with paint on their eyebrow from wiping down the sweat after a day of painting their craft. Let’s support the South African with a splinter in his finger from putting together the coffee table that would look perfect in your lounge. Let’s support our fellow artisan… and “Stick it to the Man”!
Together, Crafters Market and you the consumer, can support local crafters and say its “lekker to be local”.
Author: Yolande Niemandt (yolloger.blogspot.com)