Sunday 22 July 2018

A non-work weekend

For the past six months I've done little else but work, run with Rusty and enjoy odd social interactions. This weekend, I have not turned my computer on once to work. It has been a much-needed break.

What did I do instead?

While I would have loved to sleep until 10 on Saturday morning, I was up before the crack of dawn as it was my turn to be Run Director at our Parys parkrun. We've got a really great community here so despite the cold, early morning, it is fun being out there.

Back home I processed results and then found a comfy spot on our stoep to read. I finished the current book (The Roanoke Girls) and started the next (We are completely beside ourselves).

Then Rusty and I went to visit her friends Skally and Rocksy at Otters Haunt, one of our favorite places to run, put our kayaks on to the river and just to hang out. I can totally recommend it as a life-is-simple close-to-joburg getaway. 

Ruben came with me and we enjoyed walking on the island, skipping stones and walking through through the forest. The dogs just love it (us too).

Even though I'd taken Rusty out in the afternoon, after 4pm is her regular run time so I had to take her out for a walkies then too. I babysat my mom's dog so Tansy was with us for the walk around a couple of blocks.

Dins was soup and Asian-style steamed buns and then some comedy watching on Netflix (I'm new to the service and still in the trial month - enjoying the variety so far).

Sunday morning started slow. I headed to my mom's house to bake rusks. Every few weeks I bake a big batch - about 4kg! Better than anything you can buy - and significantly more cost effective. While the rusks were in the oven we popped through to our paddle club to hang with friends who were there to braai and enjoy the warm, sunny day.

Back at my mom's house we got the rusks out and I mended Celliers' pants, put up a hem on mine, caught up with friends on the phone and got the rusks back in on a low heat to dry.

I was back home briefly to change before heading out with Rusty for a run across town. Friends are coming back to Parys next month and I'm helping them find a place to rent. I had to addresses to check out - just from the outside as the tenants won't let me in to look until next weekend (days before they are moving out - really inconsiderate). The one place looks really good.

Back home. Cook, shower and chill. We're having a braai tonight.

I want to sink into my book later and maybe something short on Netflix.
And that's the weekend gone. A good weekend.

I'm up for an exciting week ahead as our seafreight arrives and by the end of the week we'll have three (and maybe more) models of our Vagabond kayaks in production. 

Here's to another week that is full of adventure. Hooray! 

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Letting the cat out of the bag - Vagabond Kayaks

Yes, yes, yes! I can finally tell you.

We launched our new kayak company yesterday - Vagabond Kayaks. What an adventure this has been already and the real adventure actually begins now.

Celliers and I have been working towards creating Vagabond Kayaks for a long time - at first only just in our minds and dreams. His passion is kayaking and kayak design. There is a good reason that he is regarded as one of the best kayak designers in the world. Aside from 16 years of designing and manufacturing kayaks, Celliers has been paddling and in the community and industry for over 20 years.

He has been under a restraint-of-trade for three years, which has been very trying for us. He was restricted from having anything to do with paddling locally and internationally - yes, that means he couldn't even design a boat for another company or get a job elsewhere. We couldn't even make paddles in our garage to sell.

Imagine a doctor that cannot have anything to do with medicine for three years, not even being a pharmaceutical rep; or a media person that may not send an email, write an article or go on social media for three years.

We started YOLO - making compost tumblers - as a new business 18 months ago. I am passionate about recycling and working towards ZeroWaste and we needed a composting solution at home. I'm now compost obsessed and I love my company and interacting with our like-minded customers. Businesses take a while to get off the ground, especially when you're in completely new territory, in an industry that is unfamiliar to both of us. The past years have been challenging.

I've been very quiet with blog writing mostly because I've barely had enough time to sneeze and I've been writing a ton of content for our Vagabond Kayaks website. I'm also our website designer and this has been the biggest and most complicated website that I have ever built. I'm no computer programmer; just a self-taught, old-school website designer with the ability to read help files, code HTML and tweak php. I've been stretched!

We also have a bunch of images and graphics on the site, which I created. Celliers' beautiful CAD renderings of each kayak at various angles have had our logos added to them, manually, by me. My mouse hand is exhausted!

Our website is and we're on Facebook (vagabondkayaks) and Instagram (vagabondkayaks). Like-Like-Like, Love-Love-Love, Share-Share-Share.

Picnic on the other side of the Vaal River - this lovely spot accessed by paddling our Vagabond kayaks. Home-baked bread, fig jam and dog treats (although Rusty wanted bread and jam too).
As for our kayaks... They are beautiful!

Rusty and I on the Kasai; Ruben and Kyla on their children's kayaks (like a scaled-down version of mine), the Kwando.
I've paddled the Kasai (great all-purpose sit-on-top with good speed) and the Tsomo (shorter, more playful) and prototypes of the Dumbi (surf kayak), Vubu (whitewater kayak; the smaller Pungwe will be my whitewater kayak) and the Usutu (whitewater sit-on-top). Rusty likes the Kasai the best so far.

Rusty is very comfy in the back of the Kasai. She likes to lie down too.
I am most looking forward to paddling the Marimba, which will be the fastest in our fleet. I had only one request for Celliers' design: make sure there is enough space for Rusty. While most of these kayaks will be available in the next two weeks or so, the Marimba will be our last one and only in production by October.

We have had a superb response from friends, family and the paddling community since we put the site online not much more than 36-hours ago. Celliers and I are pleasantly drowning in support and well wishes.

We have awesome partners in this business (all paddlers too) and we look forward to having them more involved in the day-to-day activities as we transition to production.

Celliers and I are recovering from extreme lack of sleep the past two weeks (especially the last five days!) and we still have so much work to do. For now, we continue to build this amazing company.

I left Rusty running around on these rocks when I swapped to paddle the Tsomo. She watched me for a bit and then climbed into 'her' tankwell on 'her' Kasai. Ruben was on this side so he climbed on and paddled her to me.