The Misunderstood Life Of A Blogger/Influencer.

So you want to be a blogger???

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I often have people asking me about how they can start their own successful blog. My first response will always be to ask them why they want to start one in the first place?

8/10 they will say because it looks like such a great lifestyle, and it is an easy way to get freebies and earn money. They want to quit their 9-5 and work from a coffee shop or the comfort of their own home.

If they were standing in front of me, instead of being behind a screen, I’d most likely give them a little mid forehead tap. This is almost never the case. So, let’s put the assumptions aside.

Want to start a blog?

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Firstly, prepare to work hard. Understand that for the first while you won’t be getting paid to do a thing. If writing and blogging isn’t a natural passion of yours, you aren’t going to be inspired or driven. I am often switching on my laptop at 10pm to work on reviews and articles. There is no off button.

If the desire is purely stirred by what you see plastered all over social media by the influencers that you follow who are jetsetting around the world, being sent designer clothing and shooting massive campaigns, know that they had to get there.

Do you feel that you are incredibly passionate about something in particular that you wish to share with the world? Be it a life event that has changed your life – for me, being adopted and becoming a mom. For you it could be something else. Do you have a love for fashion? What makes you different to the next? What will make you stand out? There’s no point in just copying another influencer’s style or trends just because he/she gets thousands of likes on their images. Because, once again – they built their empire, and worked towards getting that response. Do you love to travel? Are you willing to cover your own travel expense to share your favourite places with your readers? Because in order to be invited to review beautiful places around the world, you need to have a portfolio before anybody is going to be inviting you to stay free of cost. And even then, for a long period of time, you’ll be covering little bits of your trip.

I’m sure by now you’re catching my drift. What is the point of starting a blog full time when you are just trying to become someone that you may idolize? Social media is a world that more often than not, shows you the wonderful things of life and forgets to mention all of the in betweens.

To the younger girls that are reading this, HALF OF IT IS FAKE. There is an entire world that isn’t being shown. These days, someone could share an image of the Eiffel Tower, but in reality, they could be sitting on their couch at home reminiscing of their trip 10 years ago.

I’ve had readers messaging me saying that they so wish they could also have beautiful clothes given to them – but, in reality, some of the wardrobe I shoot in is just borrowed for photoshoots.

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Back to the point…

You want to start a blog? You want your blog to be a success. Before you quit your job, and jump into this industry, consider the following.

– Do I have the passion?
– Do I LOVE to write?
– What would my niche be?
– Do I have something to share with my readers that will impact them in a positive way?
– Can I accept being turned down by companies?
– Can I earn money from this?
– Who would I be targeting?
– Am I wanting to blog just to replicate the influencers I follow with over 50k followers?
– Is this a hobbie, or could I actually turn this into a full time job?

Now, if you’ve answered those questions, and are still wanting to go ahead with it, let me share a few tips with you.

1. Don’t quit your 9-5… yet!
Don’t quit your job that you are earning a salary from until you start earning money from your blog. First get your blog established and make sure that you  are earning enough over the period of a few consecutive  months.

2. Just start.
Start by reviewing things that you already own. Maybe it’s a perfume that you love. Perhaps you just bought that new product from Lush that you are obsessed with. Perhaps you travelled somewhere recently and you feel it was amazing. This helps you build up a blog with decent, quality content. Tag those brands in your posts as this also helps you get recognized.

3. Be true to yourself.
Don’t write about anything that you do not believe in. Don’t review a product that you don’t like and say that you love it just to get brownie points by a big brand. Write about things that inspire you, help you get through a day. Being authentic is admirable and invaluable. This is what draws readers and followers. When they feel that they are connecting with another person that they can relate to. Let’s get real- you aren’t a celebrity. People don’t know you until you create a platform that allows people to get to know you. On this note, don’t be that person who buys followers and likes just to grow their following. That doesn’t work anymore. It ain’t real, so if it’s making you feel better about yourself, you have bigger issues than learning how to run a blog.

4. Share beautiful content.
It’s all about being real, and everybody loves seeing in the moment snaps. But, try to keep your feeds looking professional. Brands want to work with bloggers who have a high standard – photos, written content, etc. I’m not saying you need to go out to invest in a camera if you can’t. I’m also not saying you need to spend thousands on working with photographers. I AM however saying, that take time to consider a photo before you push the button. Have a focal point and share a little story behind it. Let the photo tell the story – especially for Instagram as many people don’t read captions unless they have a reason to.

5. Set your bar.
I feel that I have learnt so much since I first started blogging. I too started on the first step. I also misplaced my footing a couple times on my way up. And, I am far from the top of the staircase. But, I do believe that it is important to figure out what type of brands you want to work with. Write a wish list of who you’d like to work with – maybe not now, but someday. Don’t ever let your bar slip for a product you want, because someone has influenced you or for any other reason. Know what quality work you are content sharing with your readers. Give yourself a reason to have pride in it, and don’t let it slip.

6. Give yourself a time limit.
When working out a plan for your blog, write down what your dreams are for it. Give yourself a year, or a year and a half, for instance, to create a platform that will stand out to brands. Once you start getting contacted by businesses, you can pat yourself on the back because that is your time to shine. I always say that that is when you can start unpacking your rate card, and you can start charging brands for your reviews.

7. Know your worth.
When it does come to the time to start charging brands for marketing, don’t get overly ambitious. Understand that you charge dependent on what you are able to offer them. If you have 1000 followers, start small. Once you get higher and know that your blog is reaching a good amount of readers, that’s when you can start raising your prices, because the brands are getting more exposure from you. I change my rate card once a year, unless I have a huge rise in followers. Brands are normally happy to pay when they feel that you are being reasonable and not trying to rip them off. Also, understand that there are some brands out there who do take advantage of bloggers. If you firmly believe in the rates you charge for the quality of your work, don’t let them intimidate you into waiving your fee. Your time and skill is valuable. Many brands promise to work with you again and to pay you the next time, and you never hear from them again.

8.Connect with your readers.
Nobody likes to be ignored. If you want to have a successful blog where people interact with you, you need to set time aside where you prioritize thoughtful and genuine responses to your readers. If it wasn’t for your readers, you wouldn’t have a successful blog in the first place. This is also a great opportunity to inspire further. Brands also like to see correspondence between influencers and their readers. I am also so often inspired by my readers through their comments on my posts, and have found many special friends and connected with inspirational women through my accounts.

9. Go easy on yourself.
It isn’t easy being a blogger. One month, I have bookings and big campaigns streaming in. The next month I’m twiddling my thumbs. Not really. That’s when I take time writing articles for my blog and creating content. But, understand that just because you aren’t being contacted by brands, doesn’t mean that you and your blog aren’t worthy. Brands also have budgets that are allocated to marketing and working with influencers. Once that is up, it’s up. Don’t beat yourself up over the quieter times, instead, spend that time creating valuable articles and reflecting on how you can make changes. You can also take this time to do research on new brands you’d like to work with, prepare strong proposals and get in touch with them to let them know what you can offer them.

10. Last, but most certainly not least – understand your social media platforms.
Nobody wants to work with someone who doesn’t even understand what they’re doing. Do research on the platforms you will be using – for me, it’s Facebook, Instagram and WordPress. Do weekly research on how these platforms have changed. Understand SEO’s and google analytics. Know when the best time of each day is to post as well as which days get the best response. This is incredibly important for when you are being paid by brands. Keep educating yourself, and keep yourself updated. Also, understand algorithms. One day you could be reaching 1000 likes, and the next day only 500. Don’t kick yourself, just understand that Instagram and Facebook is a business too, and they have made changes so that people like you and me feel that we need to pay to sponsor posts.

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There is so much more that I could share, but time is money, and I’m applauding you for getting this far anyway without having to switch screens as your boss walked by.

For me, blogging happened by accident. It wasn’t planned. I wanted to create a platform that I could turn to to get support from other moms after my son was born. It escalated from there, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I love blogging. There are times where I have writers block. There are times when I just don’t feel inspired. But, it’s all part of this industry, and every single influencer and blogger will hit a halt at some point.

I want to take a moment to encourage you to take the next step if after this article, you feel inspired and still feel ready to take on this next chapter. If you’re wanting to take on blogging full time, don’t quit your job until you’re making enough money to support yourself. Give yourself some time, and be gentle with yourself. Putting yourself out there is brave, and sharing parts of your life with others to inspire, motivate or help them is incredibly courageous. But, also keep in mind that even if nobody comments or you only get a few likes – there is always somebody that you have inspired.

I truly hope that this post has helped guide you in one way or another.

All the best for your journey!

– L


Images: Criene Images

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Capturing An Indescribable Love: Mother & Son.

IMG_7896There’s something incredibly special about raising a family in this generation. Things have changed, and the fact that we are able to do photo shoots with our families and children really is something magical. We are enabled to capture special moments, and to freeze a moment of time so much more easily than when I was growing up.

It certainly does take someone talented to capture the true emotions between a family or between two individuals. They have to make themselves vulnerable behind their cameras to just slip into your normality as a family. I’ve met some photographers who just don’t have that – and then there’s those, like Aimy from Aimy-Louise Photographer whose just got it.

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I was amazed at how quickly, and effortlessly Aimy captured my little boy and I on Saturday afternoon. The entire shoot was totally natural, and not once did I find her stopping my little guy from doing something he wanted to do to force him into some ‘perfect’ frame. Aimy simply awaited the moments that had emotion overflowing from them – she watched as we played, and allowed us to, well, just be us!

 

We wanted to have some updated photos in time for Mother’s Day, and although the deadline was short, Sunday rolled around and I had my images popped neatly in my inbox awaiting me. My heart burst with love, emotion and pride as I scrolled from one image to the next. She captured the imperfections, the raw and real moments. The happiness and vulnerability of a mother and son.

 

Aimy’s photos speak emotion. Her colours deep, leaving you with a sense of wonder and allowing you to see directly into the heart. I love that she doesn’t cover up every flaw, but rather shows your imperfections as what makes you unique and beautiful. These photos are so special to me. By looking at them, I will always look back and remember that feeling of my little boys small, warm, dirty hands holding my face to plonk a kiss on the tip of my nose. Those same hands excitedly gripping onto mine, trusting me to guide him out of harms way into safety. The sound of laughter echoing between the trees as he throws the fresh, crisp Autumn leaves above my head waiting for them to take landing.

 

Each family, and mother and child has their own unique story – and Aimy makes sure that she captures your story exactly for what it is. There are no corny poses, and no rights and wrongs. She allows your family to be comfortable in your own skin. And that is what makes her stand out to me as one of the best photographers for family, engagements, couple, newborn or wedding photography in Cape Town.

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Aimy-Louise Photography is offering a special on her Mommy & Me Mini Sessions. For R700 you get 30 minutes with her and 10 edited photos. This is such a wonderful deal, and I really encourage you to make use of this special if you’re needing some updated images with your kids, if you are based within the Cape Town area.

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You can see Aimy’s portfolio here:

Website
Facebook
Instagram

Thank you, Aimy for the beautiful images of my little boy and I. You truly captured our quirky and very special relationship perfectly!


*My wardrobe: My Scattered Heart

Creating A Capsule Winter Wardrobe.

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It certainly seems as if Winter is approaching here in Cape Town, and although we are all looking forward to the rainy week ahead, it also means we have had a very sudden change of wardrobe!

Funnily enough, this past year has been a real eye opener for me as an individual. I have done some soul searching, I’ve been trying to figure out my identity a little. Wondering what type of things I like, the style and trends I enjoy following, and with that, comes figuring out what I feel comfortable wearing. How you dress certainly defines you to a certain degree. Being a mom, I have to have those staple items in my wardrobe that shout ‘comfort’, but we are lucky to live in a time where we have so many talented designers that have the ability to make good fashion comfortable!

3T6A5528This Concealed Button Stand Blouse from Label Collections is super comfortable and can be dressed up or down. I loved how light weight it was, and it is also incredibly soft. White isn’t always the most practical colour, however, they do have a few other colour options available. But, there really is something stunning about a white blouse. A definite for every woman’s wardrobe! The shoulder has a delicate pleat detail which adds that extra touch of femininity. I recently attended a Country Road event that was hosted by Kerryn Fischer. She showed us how to embrace the new season; through food, drink, music and clothing. She explained and challenged each of us to try to have a wardrobe which consists of just 33 items, including your accessories, etc. For many this could be a huge challenge, however, having a capsule wardrobe for Autumn/Winter & Spring/Summer actually makes you put a lot more thought into each item you purchase. This is one of those pieces that would fit perfectly in my capsule wardrobe because it can be worn all year long, as you can roll and button the sleeve up, turning it into a 3/4 sleeve for warmer days.

I have also fallen in love with these Pants with tie detail. I feel that the style compliments 3T6A5681my laid back, but chic lifestyle perfectly. The pants have an effortless feel to them. They can, too be worn with anything. A pair of sneakers, or throw in a pair of wedges for a night out. They are warm, but light weight. The fabric has a little stretch to it which helps to prevent any creasing. Dream come true, right? These are the perfect pants for a busy mom who is up and down all day. They are fitted and elasticized around the waist, which means you won’t find yourself having to pull your pants up all day. They also have a loose fit, which gives you the freedom to move around when playing with your kids. These are one of my favourite pairs of pants this Season!

Sneakers: Adidas (Spree)
Beanie: Country Road

 

Next on my list is this beautifully soft knitted Waterfall Cardigan with faux leather cuffs. It is light weight, and hangs in a very flattering way against your body. With the fit being slightly loose, rather than tight – it allows you to wear a long sleeve beneath it for the cooler months. This cardigan looks gorgeous with a pair of leggings and some heeled boots which is a staple for Winter. It could be worn with a belt for a more sophisticated look too. I am a sucker for a beautiful cardigan, and this one by Label Collections is certainly on my list!

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This outfit is slightly more out of my comfort zone, but I just love how it looks together. Ideally, it would be gorgeous with a pair of heeled boots for Winter. Both the jersey and skirt are from the new Country Road collection. This Winter Floral Wrap Skirt surprised me with how versatile it actually is. It can be worn with so many different options. It is incredibly comfortable. I am unable to locate the cardigan online, but if you happen to stumble upon it in store – I was amazed that it wasn’t scratchy, as it looked as if it was. It is soft and lightweight and incredibly warm! I love the flared arm too. Makes it just that extra bit special for your capsule wardrobe. The colour is an absolute YES YES YES for this season, and is also very versatile when it comes to trying to match it with other garments in your wardrobe!
Witchery, Country Road & Trenery are also home to some stunning accessories this season! I am loving their scarves, bags and purses.

Lastly, for now – this is my typical go-to for this time of the year. A good pair of jeans and a chunky knit jersey! I am loving the frequent pop of red this season. It is so fresh and just brightens up every outfit so perfectly! This Cable Swing Knit Cardigan is also from Country Road, and it is bound to keep you toasty for the coldest of days this Winter! I love the patterned detail and would actually choose a size up instead of having it fitted to allow myself to wear a thinner long sleeve beneath as you may need to remove it when indoors as it really is warm!


 

Now, in ending, my challenge to you is to stop buying things for no reason – don’t just buy something because it is on sale! Sometimes, investing in the slightly higher priced pieces are more valuable in the long run as the quality is better, and the garment is timeless. This means that it can easily be added to your Capsule wardrobe resulting in less clutter, and being able to mix and match everything.

I’d love to know about some of your finds? We are so lucky to have so many incredibly designers in Cape Town, and I hope to stumble across some as I begin this new quest in finding myself and my own unique style. Do share your finds with me!


* A huge thank you to Radz Photography & Devin Trull for the images.

My Postpartum Hair Transformation – Spoilt Hair.

Looking back on my hair before falling pregnant, I want to slap myself for ever complaining about having a bad hair day. From the start of my second trimester, my hair was growing at a rapid pace, thickening by the day.

But then my tiny miracle baby was born, and as if it was all a dream, that new hair all started to evacuate, as if it realized it had checked in at the wrong place, and feeling slightly embarrassed, they packed up and left, never to return again.

I’ve never experienced hair loss the way that I did, and still do after pregnancy. I’ve never known my baby hair to be quite so stubborn – it grows out, and then regrows, and the cycle is never ending. My hair dry and brittle and the waves now seemingly totally uncoordinated – departing in every direction, except the way I wish for it to go.

Rewind a year, I was gifted a day at the salon. I had them do the ombre look which was so in at the time. I was this new semi-blonde bombshell, and I adored it. And then…it grew out. Weeks turned into months, months turned into a year. And then here we were. It took multiple days where I burst into tears when looking into the mirror. My hair drove me insane, and being a busy mom, I just couldn’t find the time each day to make it look good. I would still have my frequent hair cuts to try to keep it healthy, but would never leave happy. The tears would stream again. I felt that all hairdressers were out there to get me – to ruin my hair. They never listened.

Then, I heard about Spoilt Hair Salon in Green Point. I heard wonderful things about the salon, as well as the hairstylists, and I had to try it out for myself. Look – once one or two hairdressers mess up your hair, it’s incredibly hard to trust anybody again. But the hair was in dire need of saving, and this was my last hope.

I arrived to the friendliest faces. They welcomed me in as if I belonged there. A salon that has regulars popping in just to say hi to their stylists. A well behaved dog seated as if it wasn’t there beside his owner. Fresh greenery brightening up each mirror. A salon that has been around for so long, that their clients become their family.

Zainab was my stylist. I don’t usually enjoy chatting too much when I’m having treatments done, as I use it as my time away from my child to just relax and read – but I so loved chatting with her. She knew when silence was desired, and would just continue with the job at hand.

I requested a wash, treatment, balayage (to bring in a dash of blonde) and a blow-dry. My previously incredibly dry and tatty hair was transformed. There were no traces of the previous colour left behind, and looking in the mirror, I was lost for words.

It is a lengthy procedure, because they do it properly. But, not once did I feel like time was dragging on. I enjoyed every moment of being there, from the time I arrived, until the time I left. They are a water conscious salon, which means that they limit the length of time your hair is washed, and the amount of times they wash it. I am so impressed by this, as it can be a challenge at a salon.

They also have a nail bar in the salon – many women were having their nails done while their foils were in their hair, which is such a lovely idea. They do have wifi, so I also noticed quite a number of ladies getting work done while having their hair done.
They are also known for their Easihair Pro extensions, which are 100% Remy Human hair extensions. They have the incredible ability in matching them with your hair colour, and making them look totally natural.

I have no words to describe the smell of my hair once it was done – as they use only the best products in your hair. A mixture between toffee and finished off with a light spray that smelt like I had just stepped out of the Carribean – coconut and pineapple.

Imagine having your hair done in California, New York or LA. This is the feel that I get when visiting and stepping out of Spoilt. It was just the change and time that I needed to reboot, get my confidence back and to face life as a busy mom again.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the vibe in the salon, the music wasn’t too loud, and everyone was happy and passionate about what they were doing. The compliments are still streaming in when people see me. I really do love my new look – and I am so happy to have FINALLY found a new stylist and hair salon that I feel I can trust with my hair. Something that we so take fore granted, and often neglect.

Take this as a reminder to book your next hair appointment. If funds are tight, put some money aside each month so that you can look after yourself. As moms, and busy women, we really do need to invest in ourselves more often. Our wellbeing is what makes us the person that we are.

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I can’t recommend Zainab at Spoilt Hair adequately. I of course, cannot give my honest feedback on any of the other stylists because I haven’t had my hair done by them yet, but everyone leaving the salon looked gorgeous, and they certainly do keep coming back.

They love to share transformation photos on their social media sites, so check them out here:

Instagram / Facebook / Website

Thank you Zainab for such a wonderful afternoon, and for restoring my hair and my confidence. Shoneez, you should be incredibly proud of the phenomenal hair salon you have, with the most incredible stylists.

The Little Leather Lifesaver – Tiptoe Mats.

Babies = mess.
Toddlers = messier.
Kids = planned mess.
Husbands = no comment.

I think back to the first few months of my sons life, and although I felt like things were a mess, I think that was mostly my fault. Being a sleep deprived mother to a newborn, I wasn’t totally in control of my home, and making sure everything was always in its place was just not happening. Life consisted of changing nappies and bibs, and doing laundry and more laundry! But my newborn, he wasn’t so messy.

The crawling began, and things started becoming slightly more chaotic. We started feeding him solids, and things became messy.  I felt like half of my life was spent wiping up or slipping on puree that had plonked onto the floor from a highly uncoordinated miniature human, hitting the ground with impact leading it to not only land in one neat pile, but rather in multiple places around his high chair. Laundry was never ending, the washing basket 90% consisting of food stained bibs.

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Then he became a toddler, waddling around, with a desire to be outdoors. Still reasonably easy to keep him entertained in one place – with perhaps some pots and pans filled with water, and some spoons or measuring cups.

Then he became a little boy. And just as one thought that surely kids get less messy as time goes by, that magical thought came to a halt, quite suddenly.

Mess was very quickly defined by paint being wiped on windows, clothes and carpets. Walls soon became the new drawing pad. Window sills the new chalk board. Stickers now being stuck in the most unimaginable places around the house. I would create an area at the dining table for Olly to do his art, but it would still end up in unwanted places – on the table cloth or on the wooden table. There is no such thing as controlled messy play inside. Food still gets flung around, but this time, it’s planned!
We all think that there must be a way to put this all to an end. But the truth is, there is no stop. This is the way that kids learn. They learn through messy play. They crave it. Without it, they wouldn’t develop the same way. So, we, as parents actually are the ones that need to learn how we can control the mess and how we can turn it into a positive thing rather than a negative thing.

I then discovered something genius! Something that almost left me with a feeling of jealousy because I never had access to the products when my son was a newborn. And something that I feel the desire to share with you moms, because it is simple, but lifechanging! Something that YOU need to have. Or that will make you the guest of the babyshower for giving as your gift.

Enter – Tiptoe Mats.
Home to bibs, changing mats, a small scallop high chair mat, small normal high chair mat, large mats, medium mats, bear eating mats, and a range of adult aprons for adults – ALL made from beautifully bonded leather.

These are quite honestly the only handful of keywords you need to know about their products:

– No Laundering Needed! (SOLD!)
– Waterproof
– Spill Proof
– Non Slip
– Super Durable Material
– Doesn’t get hot in the sun!
– Kid Proof (Kokies, crayons, paint, food, etc simply wipes off – the only thing that is a pain to remove is pen marks).

But, let me tell you a little bit more. Each product comes in a variety of the most gorgeous colours of soft leather. I am honestly quite blown away by how they can be folded up so small to be packed away in a small space or to be taken away with you on holiday.

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I have loved putting our large mat down in the garden for when Olly eats his snack or lunch outdoors. Especially with the water crisis – meaning we barely have any lawn left, it isn’t pleasant for him to have to be sitting on spiky grass or sand. So, I love that I can place this on the ground. The leather means that there is nothing that pokes through, like it would through a blanket. The best part is being able to just wipe the mat down after use – any spills or mess honestly doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t need to be tossed in the wash which is a huge plus for Cape Tonians with the water crisis. Also, who needs more laundry?

We love taking ours to the beach. We are at the beach often, and it is so wonderful not having tons of sand coming home with us, because it is so easy to just shake the sand off before leaving. Painting and messy play has actually become FUN, and I find myself not feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the mess that comes with the activity, because I know that it is so easy to clean. There is no permanent mess left.

I wish I had access to the bibs when my son was a baby, because being able to just wipe down the mess would have been a dream. I felt that the hard plastic ones irritated my son. These are soft, light weight and comfy for babies and their sensitive necks. They also fold up nicely to pack in their nappy bags when you are going out.

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Now lastly, the mats that can be strategically placed beneath the high chair is simply genius. The large mat would have been needed for me, because the distance my little guy could flick puree was phenomenal – he would have probably qualified for Olympics had they made it a sport! That being said, it would mean that I could just sit down and enjoy feeding time, and then clean it all up afterwards, without having to worry about food seeping into the carpets in the lounge/dining room that we had in our home that we were renting at that stage.

I love that these products haven’t been made from plastic, but rather from leather. Something that will last a long time, and that can be folded up!

Again, any of the above products would make such a fun, and unique gift for a baby shower – and definitely products that I would have absolutely adored as a mom to be.

If you’d like to see the full range, or if you don’t even want to see them, but just want to BUY – then head over here: https://hellopretty.co.za/tip-toe

You can also see some of their products being used here:

Instagram

Facebook

I am also excited to announce that I will be running a giveaway with Tiptoe in the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled so that you can see which of their amazing products you can WIN!