I looked forward to the Kids Emporium event for ages – which I loved because there was loads of notice to make sure I could attend. I was mostly excited as I knew I would be in the company of some of the most incredible women I know. But also, come on – it was a Constantia breakfast – the luxury and a little bit of “me time” was beyond needed. Also, the guest speaker was Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp. Seriously, who WOULDN’T be looking forward to this event?? But you guys, it was so much more than all of those things. It is incredibly rare that you are surrounded by so many inspiring women in one place.
So take a peek… These are the amazing awe inspiring women that have come into my life through this little space of mine on the interwebs. Through me sharing my less than perfect view on pregnancy and parenthood and the loneliness it brings, I have found a tribe of other women who have felt the same things.
Motherhood can feel isolating and lonely when we are doing it alone – and it always feels like we are; but if you just look up and reach out you will find you are surrounded by other moms feeling exactly the same way. Luckily for you, this particular part of my tribe are all bloggers; so you can reach out and add them to your tribe by just clicking a button. Before I start on the bloggers though, the host of the event has DEFINITELY made my list of most inspiring women.
Let’s start with Lauren de Swardt, founder of Kids Emporium.
You would never guess from meeting her that Lauren is the amazing mompreneur that she is and that she is as successful as she is. And by that I mean she is NICE. Genuine, warm, sincere – and she runs her empire from a loft above her house – my kind of lady obviously 😉
With 27 stores across South Africa, and one launching in the UK in a few months; I love her take on franchising. Starting her own little high-end high-quality Kids Emporium store at 22 years old, she quickly learnt that people coming in LOVED interacting with the owner of a store. She also loved how much she could share with those customers and how much she could learn with them – and THAT is why she franchised. Kids Emporium franchisees are in store, they are in touch with their customers and are able to meet their needs in a personal way.
I was hugely motivated by listening to Lauren share her story. Besides being a business BOSS, she makes quality time with her kids (Toni 13, Rourke 8 and her partners kids who she adores, Tyla 18 and Emmie 11) that no business is allowed to intrude on – I recently interviewed her on balancing in life and will be sharing that soon. I can’t think of anything I need more right now. She made so many great and relevant points on mompreneurs and our constant need for growth and connecting with each other. And if I didn’t feel connected enough to her, she also matriculated the year before me from my high school.
Another thing about Lauren worth mentioning is her team. To me, there is nothing more telling about a business owner than their staff. The Kids Emporium team that we got to meet were pure awesome. More strong confident smart women. I can’t wait to get to know them all better.
Okay, so you guys mostly know I have zero knowledge of popular culture; but even I know who Elana Afrika is. But do you really?
Take a breath before trying to get this all out there – firstly she is a mom to a gorgeous 15 month little girl and a stepmom to Ian Bredenkamp’s two kiddies who she adores. She is also – a media personality; one of the most influential people on Twitter in SA; a TV host; a Radio host; a SAMA judge; an actress; a GQ Style Award Winner; a recipient of GLAMOUR’s Most GLAMOURous Award; launcher of the ShoesDay concept to radio and #ShoesDay online; ambassador for the SA Brandy Foundation; corporate speaker and MC; runs a mentorship program with her alma mater, Parow High School; ambassador for CANSA and the Red Cross Children’s Hospital; a businesswoman; a university graduate; the owner of #ElanaWine – a boutique range of Shiraz produced in the Durbanville Wine Route region; an ambassador for KIA Motors; she co-owns and manages the PR and social media agency The Media Menu and is a keen golfer. Oh! And she has a lifestyle and fashion blog called Chocolate Face.
So, after reading all of that, you kind of have an image in your head of her right? A little intimidating and scary? A little overly self-confident? I can’t even tell you how far off base that actually is. She is the sweetest thing. Seriously. I found her to be quieter and gentler than I expected her to be, and her obvious affection for Lauren, who is a friend of hers, was really touching. She was very much the kind of person you want to curl up on the couch with, with hot chocolate and chat about everything and nothing. And her baby sounded so adorable when she described her that I had to go online as soon as I got home and find a picture of her – and she is every bit as gorgeous as promoted 🙂 Pop over to her blog and give it a read, you can hear her voice in the posts and get a glimpse into the lovely soul she is. You can also follow her adventures on her Facebook page and of course her Twitter account.
Ok, so here’s where things get real and emotional for me. These blogging ladies mean more to me than I can say. I struggle to communicate how much love I have for these women; most of which I have only met in the past year or two, some of which I only met in person for the first time last month at the #CTMeetup or the Kids Emporium breakfast.
They are ALWAYS there for me. ALWAYS. Whether I have something exciting to share, or if I need to vent, or if I am drowning in insecurity, or #momlife, or if I have a business question – at midnight, or if I have a wild huge campaign idea that I want them on board for without even telling them what it is – and them saying “hell yeah”, or when I ask them to write a column for me on Tums 2 Tots Online and they find space in their incredible insane lives to get something special done for me. ALWAYS.
And you know what, if you go read their blogs, go find them on social media, like their photos, leave comments, questions, thoughts, advice – they will respond, and be there for you always as well. As bloggers, we WANT you to share in our lives; to comment on our ridiculous endless kids’ photos, to tell us we are not alone when we are having a crappy day or week, to tell us when something we have written really resonates with you.
And hey, if you are too shy to comment, share it! There is no greater way to show a blogger you love what they are saying or know what they are going through, than sharing what they have said with your own tribe. Enough about that. We went around the tables at the breakfast and “introduced” ourselves to each other, as more than just our blogs. And I was awestruck as I listened to these amazing women talk so self-deprecatingly about everything they do. Seriously, THESE women ask me how I do it, how I do so much and am always busy on something or starting something or helping someone or being somewhere – listening to them, I was confused as to why they would ask me, when each and every one of them has a dozen balls in the air and kids and husbands and everything else going on.
Firstly, don’t get me wrong – there are dozens more incredible bloggers I adore and have close personal relationships with and read every opportunity I get. These just happen to be the inspiring women that I got to share space with at the Kids Emporium event (Thank you Lauren!!). In the order we were seated, so as to show no favouritsm 😉
I’ve “known” Kate online for about a year now. I discovered Mammas’ Meeting Place on Facebook and really enjoyed the page. But what it has grown into is just amazing!
Kate and her close friend Hannah are two of the nicest humans I’ve met; they created Mammas’ Meeting Place with the idea of building both online and IRL relationships between moms. Right now, you can log into their website, enter some information and meet up with other moms in your area for a coffee or just a sanity check. How awesome is that? It’s taking your basic Facebook mom group and actually DOING what they all claim to do. They also hold moms and tots events which you can find here.
Kate is also mom to a beautiful little boy named Ethan who is 2 and a half and she is the Creative Director at an ad agency. Because, you know, that’s what you do! She actually talks about it a bit here in one of her latest posts on MMP.
Celeste took turning 40 as the moment to fully embrace all she is and share her life and passions and guidance and shortcuts of working-momlife with others. She turned her then aptly named blog My Friend thinks I’m Supermommy to her even more aptly named Being Me – Simple, elegant and exactly what it is all about.
My warrior princess friend. I’ve written about Maz before. She is the author of the amazing Caffeine and Fairydust blog, she is the columnist behind Straight Talk with Maz on T2T, and she’s a huge deal fashion designer who sees into the future and tells SA fashion brands what will be in style 2 years from now. I met her at the second #CTMeetup. She is also the mom of two of the most incredible little humans, their photos on Instagram will make you want to have more children straight away.
Maz knows who she is, she knows what she believes in, what she stands for, and she will speak out where the rest of us will hide. She has real guts and conviction. She’s also a loyal and supportive friend. She’s who everybody should aspire to be.
Kim is The Overcoming Mom. Her blog started out as a sharing of the incredibly difficult journey she took through postnatal depression – and how she overcame it. She is a qualified teacher and mommy to the cutest little boy who turned 4 last weekend!!
I have only gotten to chat to Kim briefly at a few events, but she comes across exactly as on her blog – sincere and a great mommy! While the link above takes you to Kim’s current blog, if you want to follow her journey from the day little Matthew was born you can start here. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Leigh is the ridiculously gorgeous mom of two beautiful little boys. She is funny and a real darling and is always ready to reach out and help support others. She is also the kind of person who will always fight for the rights of others, which I find hugely admirable.
Leigh writes The Mom Diaries, which I loved long before I ever met her. I was quite taken aback when she came up to me at an event and told me she liked my writing and felt we had a similar style – how flattering is that?! Leigh was also the original guest writer over at T2T and will soon be starting her very own column with us again – yay!
This lady. Just wow. Literally the epitome of cool; always dressed stunningly, married to the love of her life, mom of an incredibly adorable and talented 3 year old named Malikai, who plays drums and has his own adorable Instagram account. Her blog is called “Leather Jacket Foxes” – I can’t even with how cool that is. (Another #CTMeetup meet!!)
BUT, cool as she is, she is the warmest person you will ever be blessed to meet. She bubbles love and affection and sincerity. She always finds something nice to say about everybody. She is who you wished all the cool kids were like.
When she is not just being gorgeous and the best mom ever, she is blogging, or guest writing for 1Africa or running her own drama school.
Seriously, read her blog, follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and definitely find her on Instagram. She also has Snapchat (cas_ferguson) , though I’m still not quite sure what that means (I’m simply not cool enough to know!).
Julie is a special soul who, it turns out, lives in the same road as I do. I only really got to meet her a short while ago and I have loved the time I have gotten to spend with her. Her space on the internet, Heart Mama Blog, is another perfectly named site. Because Julie is a heart mama, her 3 stunning children – Ilan (4), Kira (2) and Judah (16m) are adopted.
Julie organises events for a well known South African brand part-time, while being a full-time mama (i.e. She is supermommy). She also finds time to blog because, as she says, “My heart is to start conversations around this topic and to make adoption more ‘normal’ by creating a network for adoptive moms to share their stories, be encouraged and also feel part of the ‘mommy community’.”
Coral-Leigh (Cupcake) Stuart-de Lange
Oh Cupcake. Cupcake is amazing in so many ways. An incredibly talented writer and artist, she will soon be publishing a kiddies book that I cannot wait to read!! She is an honest and brave blogger at Cupcake & Fysh, who shares reviews, a love of books, stories of her personal journey as a mother and woman and girlfriend, and she stands up for all things mental health related sharing stories from amazing people who have fought or who fight stereotypes and challenges every day. And she is an exceptional mother to a smart, independent and adorable 6 year old called Fysh.
Cupcake has purple-blue-green mermaid hair, loves tutus and makes her own gorgeous outfits from scratch!! She crochets unicorns and mermaids toys, mermaid tail blankets and fox-ear cowls. She runs a book review website which is awesome and you can sign up for here. Her Instagram account is one of my favourite places to visit. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Oh! And she is an amazingly talented web designer.
Tracey is the kind of beautiful that people are afraid of, until you read her words or follow her Facebook posts or meet her, and realise that she is even more beautiful on the inside. Cheesy right? But so very real. This lady is full of love for others, starting with her family who she adores. She is crazy smart, working full time designing and consulting on streamlining software systems – or something equally techie sounding. She is also the friend that will reach out and send you a message full of encouragement and love because she sees you’ve had a bad day on Facebook.
Tracey writes The Milk Memoirs, which focuses on sharing as much information and support for breastfeeding moms as possible. But, beyond that she shares the details of her life, raising two girls as a working mom, crafting posts, and the occasional review if she comes across something really worth sharing.
Jonelle du Pont
Jonelle is one of the most inspiring women and inspirational writers you will ever find. I discovered her blog, Tyranny of Pink, last year and I just found her writing to be the most motivational reads online. Her passion for supporting and sharing and helping and uplifting other women is so incredibly special and you can go to her newest website, Jonelle du Pont, to find all kinds of articles to get you moving forward and upwards in life. I also asked ehr to share her awesomeness on T2T, where she has a column called Be You with Jonelle. She is also fierce in her beliefs and the causes and people she supports, and in living her mission statement of “Be authentically you”.
And then her whole world turned upside down and she took bravery and inspiration to a whole new level. Giving birth to her son nearly killed her, she survived. She had three major surgeries in the weeks following his birth, which left her with a colostomy bag. She has since been hospitalised and had further surgeries, lost both her grandparents who helped raise her while hospitalised, and just recently survived a reversal surgery that kills 1 in 50 people. And you know what? She is STILL the most positive and inspirational woman I have ever met. Finding the good and the hope in every one of the challenges she has faced. And becoming the most amazing mommy to almost 9-month-old Oden in the process.
If you are ever in need of hope, of a hand held out to pull you up, of a reminder of how incredibly lucky you are in your life, or just somebody to talk to; go find Jonelle on Facebook here and here, Instagram or on Twitter here, here and here.
Radhia Sattar Kamedien
Radhia is a Chartered Accountant for a big brand everybody knows the name of. She founded and created Treatmesweetlie, where she creates and sells handmade baby goods (her leather pacifier clips are to die for, we have 9 in different colours). Treatmesweetlie is also a mommy blog where she shares her journey as a very busy working mom in a high pressure job, a momtrepreneur, a wife and mommy to her exquisite baby girl Amaarah.
Radhia is somebody I love to talk to online and in person. I think of her as an old soul full of wisdom. She has this amazing calmness around her, no matter how frantic life might be and she gives the best advice!
Kathryn is a rare lady in our blogging world. She is that mythical creature, a “full time” blogger. She has a way of engaging an audience that makes most of us stop and stare. Becoming You is a lifestyle blog, though Kathryn does share snippets of mom life as well while raising her 2 kids (8 and 4).
Kathryn seems to me the epitome of what a grown up mother should be. She is always perfectly put together, and she seems completely in control of everything – I feel like if I spent enough time around her I could learn how to find that elusive work-life balance.
Chereen has recently become one of my favourite people. Her blog For the Beauty of It, is a great lifestyle / beauty / mommy blog where you can find gorgeous images and great writing. Meeting Chereen properly in the last few months has made me so happy and I have loved getting to know her personally. She is warm and incredibly supportive and has fast become one of my favourite humans.
Chereen is mommy to a very cute little boy named Noah. She also owns a successful boutique PR agency called This Pretty Thing. She manages a supportive blogging space on Facebook called #BlogSquad. And because that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is in the process of launching a new decor business called Wulf, which you can follow the progress of here.
Zayaan Schroeder Mollagee
This lady is one of those people you meet and you feel like you’ve been friends with your whole life. At least that was my experience with her when we met at the first #CTMeetup.
The Kids Emporium event was a very special one, because she shared her then still-secret second pregnancy news with us before anybody else. I got all teary-eyed because Z is one of my very favourite mommies. I have been following her journey on her blog Surviving the Madness and I just LOVE that she is a teeny tiny huge geek who shares her world honestly.
When she isn’t raising the gorgeous Rushdi, being an awesome wife to Mr Z, being the human oven for baby Z and sharing her world online; she is a writer at Parent24. She will make you laugh out loud and feel all the feels, so be sure to follow her journey as a working pregnant toddler mom on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
I was so excited to meet Belinda properly. I saw her for a second at the last #CTMeetup, but there was so much going on. I have been an avid reader of her blog Making Mountains forever, her writing on the loss of her mom shortly after she had her first child made me ugly cry. Her writing is beautiful and raw and I love that she shares about all the things that “make up a life”, as she puts it.
When she isn’t writing the blog, she is raising two gorgeous children, being a wife and being one half of a content creation business. But if you want to know all the things her life is made up of, find her online on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, because she says it better than I ever could.
Lindsay Leigh Thomas
I’ve only spent a few hours around this precious lady, but I consider her one of my best friends. I’ve never had anybody believe in me the way she does. I was a huge fan of her original blog, What Happened to my Body (how could anybody NOT be with that name), considering her one of my favourite bloggers. And yet she compared me to a celebrity once when we first met, because she was such a fan of my blog. I was so proud I nearly popped. Anyway.
LindsAy (that is how you are meant to say it) updated her blog name to “Love Made Me”, at the same time as she launched her baby and kids clothing line of the same name. This lady and perfect names!! She also works full time in a busy hospital. One of the most genuine human beings you will ever meet, she will make you feel like the most special person in a room. And her boys are my favourite ever, I just want to eat them up!
So if you are ever in need of a warm virtual hug (or gorgeous kiddies clothing), you should be following her here on Facebook and here on Twitter and here on Instagram. AND of course here and here, because she also writes our kids fashion and maternity fashion columns on T2T.
Charlotte Coetzee Nortje
Charlotte is awesome. I always find myself laughing out loud when I am with her, she has such a dry hilarious view of the world. My first face to face with Charlotte was when she stole my Charlotte at the first #CTMeetup. And every event I attend with her, I enjoy her even more.
Charlotte has 3 part-time jobs and blogs at The Stiletto Mum about her life with her two gorgeous girls, 6 year old Lorelai (best name ever after Charlotte) and Amandalynn (9). Her blog covers everything from finding herself as a single mom with 2 little girls at 25, to getting married to her second baby’s daddy 5 years later in 2014 and all the ups and downs that family life brings. I love her straight-forward honesty, her humour and she gives some really solid advice as well.
Sarah started The Mommy City 4 years ago. Passionate about parenting and all things South African, she shares reviews and news for all parents. I think Sarah was the first person to ever come up to me in person (also the first #CTMeetup) and know who I was from my blog. We later discovered she is neighbours with my favourite photographer friend, Heidi (who took my maternity photos, Charly’s newborn photos and the cake smash photos for Charly’s first birthday).
Sarah consults on websites, design, social media and creates content for others, while being a full-time mommy to two beautiful children and managing TMC. I could sit and chat to this lady for hours and never stop learning.
One of my favourite things is seeing Anthea’s beautiful happy face on her Instagram. She always looks so happy, it makes me smile every time. This KE breakfast was the first time I got to meet her in person and giving her a huge hug was a life goal.
Anthea is a front-end web-designer. She has such amazing skills that she was sought out by the company she now works for. Anthea is incredibly blessed to enjoy a 4-day workweek and when she isn’t wowing her team and clients, she also creates gorgeous designed invites, cards, and well, pretty much anything. She also does loads of crafts with her gorgeous kids, 9 year old Joshua and 4 year old Alex. And she blogs it all on Anthea’s Project Life.
As I wrote, I realised that there is one mommy blogger who couldn’t attend who I cannot leave off this list of inspiring women. If it wasn’t for her, I might never have got the opportunity to meet and connect with these women in person in the first place.
Cindy is the organiser of the #CTMeetup!! She does all the booking, organising, searching out the best stuff for the goodie bags, chasing us ever-busy mommies who forget to RSVP til the last minute or trying to fill the spaces that those of us who have to cancel last minute because… Kids and mom life. That’s why she gets a mention on this post even though she couldn’t make it – because she had organised a team building event for her actual business, where she is a partner in an insurance company. So yes, business owner, event organiser, award winning mommy blogger over at 3 kids, 2 dogs and 1 old house. Yep, you read that right, she is also a mom to 3 kids – THREE, while doing all that other stuff. And she cooks and has dinner parties and everything. And she’s not even 30 yet. #lifegoals
Cindy is amazing. She is a darling human being as well. You may end up with a face sore from laughing if you ever get to chat to her in person, or if you read most of her blog. And she’s like supermodel pretty, married to a guy who could pass for Thor in a superhero party and the kids… These are some of my favourite kiddies ever, Kyla (7), Riya-Rae (6) and Knox (3). Such a gorgeous family. You will want to hate them, but you won’t be able to because they are just too nice and funny and easy to love.
And that’s that. It only took me a month to get to finishing this post 😀 Worth it though right? 21 (+1) inspiring women who you can go find online and include in your tribe.
Sending all the love x