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Green and Orange Health and Wellness Blo

The Future is local.

As a former small business owner myself, I'm acquainted with the hardships faced by entrepreneurs with a limited budget in Mauritius. Ever since, I have found it crucial to help educate others about the challenges faced by SB owners, local products, sustainability and more.  I, initially started this project on Instagram. I have since then, been observing a steady growth of following. This platform will hopefully serve as a mediator between aspiring entrepreneurs and SB owners in Mauritius and anywhere else! One of the goals of this blog is to increase the visibility of local businesses and their products.  Curious to learn more? Check out our SB stories of some budding entrepreneurs.

Green and Orange Health and Wellness Blo
Samantha
May
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Marketing Executive

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Sea shells, vibrant colours, bronze or gold you name it and Freetsy has it. The brand owner, Charlene crafts each individual piece of jewelry on her own. And trust me, when I say they’re among the prettiest jewelry made on this island. I instantly knew that this brand would become successful when I came across this creation( see picture below) both earrings are individual pairs but paired together they look dreamy and whimsical. This pair like many others, stands out of the ordinary, it’s bold and definitely hard to replicate. So naturally, not only I had ​to get my hands on these but I also had to find out more about the amazing artist & entrepreneur behind these beautiful creations. Find out more about how this entrepreneur has built her presence on Instagram, how she communicates with her audience and her thoughts on the plagiarism in our Small Business Story today.




1. Tell us a bit about Freetsy


I don’t exactly know from where to begin. Freetsy is a lot more than a brand to me. For as long as I remember, I have always loved creating. However, it is only later while pursuing a degree in Mathematics that I realised that I wasn’t meant to be glued to a computer screen all day long. That is when I decided to do something completely different and worked as a product developer for 3 years. I have to add that it is while performing this job that I realised what I was capable of but that period still doesn’t mark the beginning of the Freetsy journey. 9 months ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. My life took an unexpected turn and the only way to find comfort and escape reality was to create something. It was a skill that I had long forgotten that I possessed. This is what got me through those hard times. I made a pouch while being next to her and I remember how thrilled she was to see it. She reminded me that life is too short to be looked at through a window. She was my first fan. At her demise, my only desire was to find back that feeling of comfort again. That is when I decided to quit my job and started my adventure with Freetsy in March when I felt like I had nothing to lose. The freedom that jewelry crafting offers me is like none other, hence the brand name, Freetsy.


2. How would you define your style of jewelry making?


It’s all about tropical vibes; my island and its stunning beaches remain my main source of inspiration. ( If we set aside the Wakashio disaster for a few minutes.) I love the beach. My fondest memories are those when I spent time alone listening to music and reading by the beach. It brings me comfort and joy all that I preach actually. “Mo ene fam dan zil” [1] There’s nothing more beautiful than authenticity. Whenever I create something, I try to find joy in what I’m doing instead of focusing on the result. I let creativity take over and I’m actually very often surprised at the final results of my creations. I fall in love with every jewelry piece that I create.


3. When did you realize that your creativity and talent had the potential to turn into a business?


Thanks to my dear friends! Whenever they would visit they would be amazed by my DIY skills, the things that I would create out of a simple cushion, a basket practically out of nothing. They would tell me « Charl, to p laisse casse dormi”[2] I try to do a little bit of everything. I haven’t ever set limits to what I do and this is precisely what is so exciting about creativity. It’s limitless.


4. Creole is the main language used to communicate with your audience. Most brands tend to use French/ English for communication. Was this done purposefully and do you think the use of Creole has played a significant role in building your brand’s image?


Definitely! Creole is part of my identity. What other language could I possibly use if not my mother tongue? As I earlier mentioned, I wanted Freetsy to remain authentic and I wanted this feeling conveyed to my audience. I wanted to reduce communication barriers between Freetsy and my potential customers. It’s simple, sending a message in Creole doesn’t require the customer to doublecheck the message whereas communicating in Creole or English might be inconvenient for some. Creole is the fastest, easiest way for communicating with locals. A simple “Bonzour, komier sa ?’’ ,be korek sa ! ( A simple“Good morning, how much is that ?” in Creole is a good enough message)



5. To what extent has storytelling been part of Freetsy’s journey so far? Would you say storytelling is a key element for keeping your customers hooked?


Certainly. Like I said, I want my brand to be completely transparent as it remains very personal to me. I have worked hard for Freetsy and I don’t see why I should hide anything from my audience. It might surprise you but people prefer honesty over anything else. They are a lot more receptive to transparency and honesty. Some even seem to get to know me through my posts and updates. I’ve received a lot of messages starting with “Even if we don’t know each other personally….”. People learn more about the brand and my work. Storytelling enables me to connect with my audience on a more intimate level. A lot of similarities can be drawn between my written thoughts and theirs. I have established a beautiful connection with people that I had never ever met in my life before.

6. You recently shared your thoughts on brands that steal ideas from small businesses such as yours. Do you think anything can be done to tackle these or ​ ​do you think it is a common problem faced by a lot of artisans/artists like yourself that unfortunately will never cease to exist?


I sincerely think that nothing can be done about it since people have always been stealing the ideas of others and this isn’t going to stop anytime soon. I’ve come to realise that even I used to steal ideas from famous brands such as Sezane and &other stories etc. when I was working as a product developer because this is just how things usually work in this industry. But not, I would rather have others be inspired by my work than have them copy my creations as they will only end up in some soulless recreation of my work. Even I get inspired by other people’s work but this does not mean that I will copy their ideas. I just find it unscrupulous to do so.


7. From your experience what would you say are the skills that one has to possess when becoming an entrepreneur in today’s world where new media is a huge part of our lives?


Understanding how social platforms work is vital for an entrepreneur in 2020. Communication can be varied and adapted according to requirements. Being tactful is another skill that’s essential for the survival of an entrepreneur. Learning how to cope with stress, remaining patient and calm are other characteristics that will help in the long run.


8. How do you as a small business owner, minimize your costs?


I recycle, reuse absolutely everything even the plastic (from a supplier who was simply going to throw away) that I use to separate each individual order when I have multiple orders. I don’t like having the jewelries tangled up while working. Whether it is a tiny piece of metal that is too short for one model I save it all. If it’s not good for one jewelry piece it will be good for another. I save everything. Nothing is regarded as junk.


9. What would be your piece of advice to anyone who is trying to launch his/her own small business?


I would advise you to be super determined. Entrepreneurship is much more than a 9 to 5 job. It requires you to handle many roles and also requires a lot of sacrifices. It’s not an easy path. There are ups and downs every day. Be patient. Believe in yourself and never compare your journey to another person’s journey. Create your own identity so that people can easily distinguish your work from others’. Do not aim at goals that seem unreachable. For me, at this point, making slow progress is in itself a goal. I used to work from my bed and now I have created my working space which I love. When I received an order from Rodrigues, I did my “happy dance” as she was my first foreign customer. Be happy with what you’re experiencing right now and never forget where it all started. If you keep this is mind you’ll always be motivated.




10. Where would you like to see Freetsy, 10 years from now?

To be completely honest, I really don't know but since I have thousands of ideas I know I will never cease to reinvent myself as an entrepreneur. In 10 years, who knows ? Maybe a pop-up store would do!

[1] A woman who is originally from a tropical island, a common reference to women in Mauritius after the famous song “Fam dan zil” by local reggae singer Kaya. [2] Not making money out of something that has potential to bring in revenue.



We’re back with another interview with our local small business owners! If you haven’t heard of Indoor Jungle yet then you have surely come across their hand painted pots somewhere! If you haven’t until now then it’s high time to have a look at their amazing products. Indoor Jungle is all about creating that little green corner within any limited amount of space. It does not matter if you live in a studio or a mansion, Indoor Jungle has a variety of pot sizes and options that can fit in any budget.

I first discovered them through my sister who since her very first purchase from the Indoor Jungle, has developed a slight obsession with the hand painted pots and now owns dozens of them. I believe this was supposed to be the real definition of the term “Jungle fever”! Plus, the best part about their potted plants is that It does not require you to have green fingers. Anyone can grow a little cactus.

And guess what? Indoor Jungle even provides several options when it comes to the choice of plants. Prices are reasonable and their work is impeccable. How did these young women come up with the idea of brightening your living spaces with a hand painted pot? Let’s find it all out with the founders themselves.


1.Tell us a little bit about Indoor Jungle


Indoor Jungle is an eco-friendly company founded a year ago, in May. It’s the perfect blend between man-made creation and nature’s beauty founded by two sisters; Ruth and Sophia. We offer a variety of unique and personalized concrete pots made with a lot of love. Our plants are from our father’s nursery.


2. Could you tell us about your background? Do you think that this played a role in how you perceive a business and how you run a business?


Since college, we both studied Business/Economics which gave us an extensive understanding of business management. I later studied Art and Graphic Design at a higher level while Sophia pursued her studies in the business management field. Our educational paths have definitely led us to where we are now.


3.How many were you when you first started and how many of you are currently working at Indoor Jungle now?


We started on our own and were supported and helped by our family whenever needed. This has not changed since then.


4. To what extent would you say family support has played a role in sustaining your business?


Family support has meant a lot throughout our journey. Their 100% ongoing support has enabled us to further our business.


5. How did the response that you received on social media differ from what you had initially expected?


Indoor Jungle has experienced a rapid growth and high number of demands within a short period. We did not plan or foresee such a successful and rapid progress when we first started. The positive feedbacks and customer loyalty definitely exceed our own expectations.


6. How do you cope with a heap of orders without going crazy?


Thanks to our two younger sisters who offer their help during peak seasons and our parents who are also very much involved. Having a supportive family makes it easier to cope with the pressure of being entrepreneurs.


7. How do you deal with stress on a day to day basis? Do you ever feel the need to take regular breaks from your work?


Indoor Jungle is our part-time job and at times, it can get overwhelming but since we have a duty towards our clients and we have to respect our delivery dates, we make sure to find time to stay up-to-date with our orders. To strike the right balance between both jobs, we take breaks whenever needed so that our job as entrepreneurs never ends up being boring and stays creative, relaxing and enriching.


8. What do you consider to be your biggest achievement and failure, so far in running Indoor Jungle?


So far, our biggest achievement has been to launch Indoor Jungle without any fear of failure and to succeed at our business goals. Due to our fearlessness and positive attitude towards our business we haven’t experienced any so-called failure yet.


9. What are your future plans for Indoor Jungle?

Our next plan is to enhance our visibility by having our products at local shops and ultimately to have a shop of our own!

Thank you for sharing your Small Business insight with us! We wish you success throughout your entrepreneurial journey!

Updated: Feb 10, 2021


I usually never write about anything that involves race as it's a delicate subject; however, current events around the globe and racial stereotypes in Mauritius have inspired me to write about something that concerns each of us. This article is not solely about race but still about marginalisation on a multicultural island like Mauritius. Although none of us wishes to talk about it, this is actually what we all should be talking about. Speaking about it only helps identify prejudices towards particular groups and diagnose our misconceptions when it comes to the latter. It is a sad fact, but since political and economic power resides in specific racial groups, marginalisation is bound to occur. The Creole community has been particularly left in dire social conditions, which has only helped increase discrimination towards them. Since my blog focuses mainly on Small Businesses in Mauritius, I thought it necessary to point out the plausible contribution of small businesses in breaking down stereotypes and the unfortunate part played by big corporations in reinforcing them. I apologise to my readers in advance, if this seems irrelevant and I hope that my honesty will not hurt any race in particular since this is not the purpose of this article.

Pleasant Reading.


Creole: a creative, beautiful and robust group of individuals who have contributed to making Mauritius prosperous, a group that has been marginalised for far too long and who deserves recognition more than ever.

BLM movement is not a meme inspo.

The manslaughter of George Floyd, the revival of the BLM movement are not mere happenings; they reflect what is wrong with our societies. The sickness that lies in our communities is not only about a lack of tolerance or empathy, and it is the result of centuries of racial stereotyping that have shaped our perceptions. Be it in the US, UK, France and even on a multicultural island like Mauritius. A lot of support has been demonstrated in support of the BLM movement despite the pandemic but much of it seems to be a bogus display of concern. Various sources have criticised businesses of false interest and severe issues to secure their brand image on social media channels. People of Colour (POC) have been disparaged by the pretence put on by many businesses. Brands such as L'Oréal Paris or Pretty Little Thing have not been spared.

Read more here:

L'Oreal, Zimmermann and Reformation accused of racism after posting in support of Black Lives Matter

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-12/loreal-zimmerman-reformation-respond-to-racism-allegations/12343284

and here:

Backlash with 'inappropriate illustrations of jet black hand'

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/pretty-little-thing-hand-twitter-racism-skin-colour-minneapolis-protests-a9539456.html

Other brands such as Glossier have boosted their reputation by showing their genuine interest in the matter with a diverse workforce and an even more varied social media presence. Glossier is probably one of the brands with which anyone can identify him/herself with, irrespective of gender or race—being murdered because one's skin colour is not a joke, not a Meme inspiration and should never be banalised. POC have remained silent for too long regarding injustice. Therefore, it is no surprise that they have started to speak out and call out brands upon their dishonest acts and talk about various forms of discrimination now that they have the chance to do so.

Racism, Oppression and Colorism.

Although, many movements worked towards an equal society for everyone in the 1960s, racism and colourism are still relevant issues in most places be it in the US or Mauritius where we barely see darker skin tones in adverts and on billboards. It is a sad truth, yet colourism remains ingrained in our culture and society. Representation of darker skin tones remains a matter of concern. Lightening of the skin is still hyped.

It is generally assumed that anyone can identify themselves with light-skinned individuals. When it comes to success, and anything that has to do with luxury in Mauritius, is usually associated with white skin mostly Caucasians/Mulattos or some mixed individual and mind you, by mixed, half Caucasian, not Creole/Muslim or Hindu/Creole etc.)

It is impressive how white skin is still adored despite our history of oppression.

Let's be honest, how many times have you come across dark-skinned models in Mauritius? Some skin tones are "acceptable" and some are barely represented. There is a massive underrepresentation of darker-skinned people when it comes to media in Mauritius. Let's forget about visual representation and colourism, what about diversity? A la tête of big corporations, there is still a substantial lack of diversity. I recall being told by a friend how during a video conference, a South-African member on the committee commented how only white people could set up and manage businesses as they possess the required skills. In contrast, the "others" make an effective workforce.

This is not an individual case; incidents like these are so common that racism and oppression have become almost banal. We no longer consider it as discrimination and brush it off like it was a bad joke. How many such remarks needed to demolish the self-esteem of POC? How hard should they work before achieving senior positions?

I recall hearing my dad's carer saying something that hit me hard when my dad asked to have rice and lentils early in the morning, and she repeatedly answered: "Mone travail kot blanc moi mo koner komen bisin manzer." I instantly wondered if the white way of doing things was the only or the right way of doing things.

People live, eat, and act differently around the globe; each of us has a unique lifestyle. How can one judge that the white way of eating or doing anything is superior to others? Strangely, people feel valuable when they work for the same race that first condemned them.

Just another winning card for some businesses.

Regrettably, businesses usually function like political parties, they frequently relate to problems that will fit their plan, but instead of votes, they acquire loyalty and revenue. This might explain why so many brands thought it was necessary to show their concern regarding the BLM.

For change to take place, businesses need to consider diversity and inclusivity. Think also about the treatment given to your customers- is the same being offered to everyone regardless of who they are, how they look or how they speak?

A recent Vogue Britain interview with British anchor Ajodudu, who is of Nigerian descent describes how regardless of her success she has suffered from racism all her life.

Read more here:

https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/aj-odudu-anti-racism)

She refers to the current flow of coloured content as tokenism which brands use whenever it is profitable for their businesses and gets rid of whenever it suits them. For Ajodudu and many others, people of colour should not be grateful when they are featured in an ad. It is instead the norm that should be reviewed, anyone is fit for representation and should be represented. While including other races and ethnicities, businesses are not doing a favour to minorities. Companies should in fact, strive to ensure that changes are long-lasting.

The irreparable damage

For those of you who know a little bit of history, economic power largely remained in the hands of colonials after independence while the nation's larger racial proportion essentially handled political power. The deal was simple; economic barons would make the country prosper if the more significant proportion stood as the foremen of politics and saved the barons from possible violent uprisings. The truth is that this has only made things a lot worse. The Creole community has been left with little to no representation at all. The "Cités" are a proof of that, no real attempt has been made to change things, they have been abandoned and left to struggle and we wonder why cases of drug use, abuse, prostitution and underage pregnancy are still staggering in number in such places.

All the filth associated with the "Cités" is a result of our incompetency and nothing more. Marginalisation is still an unresolved issue, and this does not seem to be ending anytime soon. Creoles are still the most discriminated against; they have been persecuted for centuries, and people are always wary of them till this date. Let's think about the recent murders; how many of them were killed for petty crimes and how many of us condemned their doings for what happened despite knowing that manslaughter is never a solution. As soon as one hears that the person killed was of the Creole community, it no longer matters, and why should it if I don't belong to the same community. This is precisely what matters. Suppose I accept how community X is treated and find it rather fair that they are discriminated against. In that case, I will also justify another community's treatment of myself thinking that they are superior. But what about those who believe that working for the white community is a privilege. They are only reinforcing the white man's false superiority. If this goes on, POC will never be able to recognise their value; their culture and legacy will be erased with each passing year.

No culture is superior to another. White is not a benchmark. Speaking French or English should not determine our worth. Neither should gender or skin colour. Speaking creole anywhere should be accepted for it's our mother tongue. One does not go to Russia or Denmark and not expect the people to speak Russian and Danish. By repetitively choosing another language over our mother tongue, we only erase our roots, which should never be the case. We should never consider any race to be superior or inferior. History has taught us one thing: our differences are often misinterpreted as weaknesses, but they are what shape us and make us unique.

How do SB challenge stereotypes?

Small businesses have been aiming at changing things. Inclusivity has been part of small companies, or so it seems on social media platforms while big corporates still emphasise our differences. For instance, their ads will ensure that the role of a plumber or a housekeeper will likely be played by a darker-skinned person, customarily from the Creole community. At the same time, the owner or director of a company will most likely be Caucasian. Instead of breaking down stereotypes, big corporates ensure that these are reinforced and will perpetuate for years and years as they have always been.

For change to happen, it does not always require cash; it sometimes requires a lot of small forces put together to move things forward. How does the input of small businesses differ from bigger ones? Since smaller companies in Mauritius are generally are made up of very few people, their concern for diversity is usually genuine, and I haven't personally witnessed a rise in awareness just for the sake of sticking to the norm. Most small businesses are supported by people of different backgrounds, gender, communities, ethnicities, and almost each and everyone is represented. None seems superior to the other. If you take a look at their customer base and their content, you quickly realise that there's no discrimination. If you read the comments, you grasp that support is from anyone. There has been an ongoing increase in support of local artisans.

Unfortunately, too often, it is just another means for big corporations to diversify their business. Local crafters and artisans can only turn their passion into stable companies if their products are not bought at a low price and resold at a much higher one. If this is the case, then the only aspect that is right about such a business type is visibility and nothing more.

Why, as a small business owner, you should be involved?

Having a social media platform allows you to have a voice and to speak out on various issues. The thing about colourism or racial issues is that stereotypes have existed for far too long for these to disappear within a day, a month or even a year. We have to be realistic enough to know that these are deep-rooted in societies, in our mentality and these will not be broken down by a simple post on injustice or by using a few pictures of POC to enhance diversity but what it can do is raise awareness in some way or another. And if thousands of businesses do the equivalent with genuine concern, it will undoubtedly impact the overall social media audience. While I do not think that social media reflects our behaviour in real life, I think part of our business values should bear a certain degree of moral leadership. To make money just for the sake of making money serves no real purpose. As a small business owner, you can change things to a certain level- what matters most is that you have the power of shaping younger generations and breaking down years and years of racial stereotypes. Small businesses can influence their audience.

Marginalisation, discrimination, and oppression have existed for far too many centuries for these to be regarded as glitches. Small businesses owners seem to care a lot more than just making profits, they care about sustainability, mental health, the Pride Month and I believe they have a say on colourism and diversity in Mauritius as well, but I may be wrong.

Things will not change promptly. Lasting change takes time and efforts from all parts of the society for it to occur. But if every small business owner and each of us brush off societal issues bound to affect our future, we certainly need to review our priorities. We all have our part to play when it comes to discrimination.

Let's rethink how we perceive each other, for once let us make Creoles CEOs when designing adverts; role reversion is more than empowering; it could change the audience's perception towards one race. This wind of change is probably the only chance for long-lasting change to take place. Let us not make the BLM movement just another trend.


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