Knysna & Partners: We briefed you to cover stories on #KnysnaMade, please give us an overview of your experience thus far?
Lisa Leslie: In a continued effort to promote all the amazing handmade goods produced throughout the Greater Knysna area, I was given the very exciting task early in 2016 to write a blog about one locally made product every week. It has been a little over ten months since the #KnysnaMade blog was launched and I continue to be deeply inspired by this incredible campaign. There seems to be no end to the amazing talent in our region. I thoroughly enjoy seeking out this talent and showcasing it to the best of my ability.
K& P: What is it that inspires you about the #KnysnaMade campaign?
LL: I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to meet some genuinely talented people across a broad sector of our community, each of whom has a fascinating story to tell. I think that is what I most enjoy about this job. I love to hear about each person's journey, about their dreams and future aspirations. Some of them have navigated difficult waters and have managed to rise above a fair share of adversity through a combination of tenacity, talent and solid work ethic . This I find truly inspiring.
K& P: Tell us a little bit about the products that you have written about.
LL: I have covered such a wide diversity of products in this weekly blog, which is another reason why I so enjoy doing it, because there is always something new and different to showcase. I have written about bead artists, painters, sculptors, cabinetmakers, ceramic artists, textile designers, fashion designers, illustrators, jewellery designers...the list goes on. The Garden Route is renowned for its innovative artists and crafters, and I am fortunate to be very spoilt for choice when it comes to finding cool products to write about.
K&P: Do you have any particular favourites in your blog series.
LL: That is a tough question! I honestly love so many of the products that I have covered, but a few stand out for me for personal reasons. I absolutely love the Little Tribe children's clothing range (all profits go toward uplifting underprivileged children in our community); the gorgeous re-purposed old books made by Wake up and Dream; the WeArOne ceramic water bottles (because I am an avid anti-plastic advocate); Nourish Natural Soaps (this all natural product is a delight to my olfactory organ); the quirky textile designs by iSpy; the thought provoking illustrations by Jurgens van der Walt from Fullturn Clothing and the Hands & Hearts Skills Development Centre (“Toolbox Project”) and Ithemba Craft and Skills Centre, (an incredible youth upliftment initiative).
K&P: You mentioned earlier that some people have struggled to get ahead. From your experience, what is in place from a local government perspective that is working, and what do you think is not in place that can assist these products?
LL: Fortunately the Knysna Municipality has a service level agreement with Knysna & Partners, wherein the local government supports the entity financially. This means that many such initiatives, which are aimed at increasing local business and showcasing locally made products, enjoys the ongoing support of local government. What I have found however, is that many people are unaware of the assistance available to them to market their products more easily. Not having the necessary marketing tools or the suitable platform from which to showcase their products is a huge obstacle for many, and this is where I feel that #KnysnaMade blog series has been so effective. Highlighting local products and then sharing them across various Social Media and marketing platforms has been a huge boost for some of these local product owners. Quite often I get a call or email from a product owner saying that they have seen an increase in business because of the blog. Knowing that sales are stimulated for our local product owners makes doing the # KnysnaMade blog series so rewarding.