Setting up a business in a small town

We are currently setting up a business manufacturing small steel / wrought iron decor items as well as making awesome lights and other steel work like balustrades and gates.  It’s been a roller coaster ride so far because it’s really difficult to source items when you live out in the bush.  Slowly things are really starting to look good and we have quite a bit of interest in our products.

One of our big stores here in Hoedspruit, that stocks pretty much everything that we need, has such a difficult system to work with that I avoid it at all costs trying three or more stores before having to go there. The system is such that you are unable to walk in, pick up what you want and go to the till. One has to find a sales attendant to help you. They are all so busy packing stock and doing online quotes and helping clients over the phone that they do not have time to assist customers in the store so they avoid eye contact as much as possible. After hanging about for 30 mins one gets frustrated and starts begging for assistance. You are told they will come now but they don’t often come back and when they do the help with one item they then disappear again. Also, some prices are marked quite high and your sales assistant is allowed to give you quite large discounts. So one has to be all sweet and kind even when getting bad service otherwise you don’t get your discount. It seems to be at the salesman’s discretion whether you get discount or not. These are good folk – the system just sucks in my opinion. Yesterday after 45 mins in the store – I walked out in frustration and got everything I needed in 10 minutes at another store, one item in particular being 50% cheaper than the listed price in the big store. Guess where I am going next time?

Here are a few pictures of what we are making.

As soon as I have some pictures of our stunning outdoor wall lamps I will put them up for you to see.

Adventures of a handywoman (to be)

If you have been reading my blog for sometime, you will remember that a year ago we had an exchange student come to stay with us on the farm for a couple of months.  At the time I had to fix up our spare cottage for her to stay in.  After quite a few mishaps and attempts at learning how to drill holes and replace window panes, I got the cottage into a condition where one could live in it,  albeit not with any form of luxury at all.  Hannah seemed to manage although there were still quite few holes in the walls, a really ancient paint job, a rickety toilet with a half-broken cistern.  At least the wind wasn’t blowing in on her and the snakes could not get in.  It was still very basic.

The time has now come where I have to up the ante.  I need to start earning some money and will be letting out the guest cottage as a B&B.  It will never be a designer place – that’s not what I want anyway.  I would like to offer couples a little piece of paradise – still rustic, but with a few home comforts.  A place to unwind and relax for a few days.

I have been quite busy in the cottage over the last month. I have put in a little fridge, a kettle, and hung some bamboo blinds in the bathroom, hung a mirror, installed a new toilet cistern (all by myself – so chuffed with myself for managing that), descaled the tiles in the shower, filled holes in the walls, replaced electric point covers, bought new linen and curtains.  This week a friend of ours, Rodney, installed a cupboard to cover the ugly spot next to the shower.

Before:

After:

All that’s left now is to paint the walls and sand and paint the window frames.  I am trying to get some nice chairs or a couch for the little veranda although the ones I like are just way too expensive for me to get right now.  I am getting a quote from Rodney for a sleeper bench.  Let’s hope its affordable.  I would also like to eventually replace the shower door, but it’s just going to have to do for now.

As you can see, although I have not been blogging, I have been rather busy.  I am  also getting ready to start up my own small business which I hope to tell you about soon.

And now there are three

Our exchange student from Germany arrived yesterday. We were lucky enough to get both the girls onto the same flight so by the time I picked up the Bean and Hannah at the airport they were already firm friends having sat together on the plane.  The Bean had been in Johannesburg with her dad, step-mom and baby sister for two weeks.  So now there are three girls living alone in the bush.

Hannah is staying in our guest cottage which I had to frantically fix this weekend so that it would be ready for her.  This is what I was dealing with.

The really dirty walls were pitted with holes some of which used to have lights.  Firstly, I had to figure out why there was no longer power at these points, fix that, and then install light fittings.  There are VERY few light fittings for sale in our little town and what I saw I did not like – as well as being terribly expensive.  Instead I bought two light shades from sidewalk salesmen and put them up.

It looks better when it is on

Then I had to put up curtain rods over the window and door – look at the holy wall!

I have invested in a drill and a laser level – they came in very handy although I did have a bit of a learning curve with the drill.

A quick scrub of the room and the bathroom, hung the curtains, and this is where Hannah will stay for the next 2,5 months. (With miss-matching linen.)

The bathroom scrubbed up reasonably well although it still needs loads of work.

I really am getting into all this DIY work – I find it challenges me in ways I never imagined.  Also this weekend there was no blood, so I guess I am improving.  I hope Hannah enjoys staying here and finds her cottage comfortable.