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Desert Sand and Dancing Stars - Mzansi Trading
Versand aus Deutschland innerhalb der EU

21

Jul '22

Desert Sand and Dancing Stars

Having added more logs to the glowing embers, we snugly enveloped ourselves in the warmest blankets we could find. The icy chill of the desert air slowly crept up deceitfully from the ground, invading our surroundings, swirling around our camping chairs. We were afraid that the chill would permeate the blankets and did not want to freeze while watching the shooting stars.

 It wasn’t easy to conceptualize that just a few hours prior to that, the sun was high in the sky, radiating the magnificence of its warmth. Beneath the large, all-encompassing Acacia tree, we sought shade at 40 degrees Celsius. We were gazing into the vastness of the Savannah in awe while seeking refuge from the extreme discomfort of the desert heat, an indescribable dry heat like no other.

We were amazed that, without having changed location, the contrast between day and night was so prolific.

We gazed at the night sky in awe as darkness fell upon us.

The shooting stars danced seamlessness to a melody unheard. A supreme Savannah setting of tranquility that rained down from the Milky Way and sustained our peacefulness, undisturbed by us lost in our dream. Overwhelmed by such an abundance of nothingness was a strange perception, but one that stilled our souls.

We wished we could put time on hold and capture every moment of such nirvana. We wanted to imbibe and inhale it endlessly, the real essence of the African earth. We tried to seize the African sun and the African breeze eternally.

That was in April 2014 under the Milky Way in Sossusvlei, Namibia.

We had both whipped valuable time away from our 8 am to 5 pm corporate jobs and set off for what was to be the most incredible adventure of our lives. Seven days was all we had, yet seven days sufficed to experience something magical and unique.

We knew that all we would require for such an experience would be the essentials; a car, my good old Golf, a detailed map, and a tent, accompanied by knowledgeable advice.

Our souls were seeking vastness, the search for slowing down time, and the discovery of ourselves. It was here that our dream organically unfolded.

We struggled with the thought of returning to civilization, the order, the restlessness, the speed, the mobile accessibility, our jobs, our routine. The contrast between freedom, the escape to nature, and the meaningless perception of time was overwhelming. We were worlds away from our mundane familiarity and routine, but we had found a world that resonated with our souls and one that we wanted to make our own, our permanency.

We wanted to stay here, in this place of longing yet fulfilled desire, with the endless expanse of golden sand and fire-colored stones, black earth, and milky dust.

The last day of our adventure trajected us via the bumpy road from the Fish River Canyon past the commanding Keurboom River, back to Cape Town.

After having unloaded and washed down the Golf, our Black Mamba, Kalle flew back to her world in Hamburg. She returned to the orderly life with S-Bahn and sandwiches from the corner shop. She reverted to drafting reports for budget meetings and ironing clothes to look sharp for the next client presentation. The basic mundane routine had fallen back into place.

 I had to return to my office in the industrial zone of Cape Town, being responsible for procuring cable, writing reports, being stuck in traffic for hours, and all that life prior to discovering the Savannah encompassed. We both had to recalibrate to adjust to our reality of life, our careers for one.

“Normal” life had returned, or at least the life we had been accustomed to. All that remained were memory cards with hundreds of pictures of sunrises and sunsets, a travel diary, and copious thoughts and memories of a somewhat crazy road trip through Namibia.

Throughout the years, we continued to create, collect, and discard ideas, devise concepts, and change them again. Not only did we want to experience this magic again, but we wanted to seize it, capture it, hold onto it, and take it with us. We had a yearning to share it with others. We wanted to create our experience of Africa and everything that represented Africa into something tangible. We were desperate to replicate our experience.

We continued to work on our careers, relationships, and dreams. In 2019 it was finally time for “Road Trip Number Two.”

Yet again, a desert, a tent, and a reliable map. By now, we could rely on Google maps, GPS, and Golf1, our “Black Mamba” became the Ford Pick-Up, our “Ranger Rolf.”  

Once again, the allocation of time was minimal. I faced a magnanimous change in our ERP system and could only take a mere ten days off work. We had already bought the tickets for the Africa Burn Festival the previous year and needed to collaborate on both adventures. Almost four years later, we sat surrounded by African magic in the Kalahari Desert by the fire. The African bush has its unmistakable scent. One almost wishes it were possible to inhale profoundly and retain the fragrance, or perhaps bottle and contain it.

Once we returned safe and sound, we immediately reverted to the corporate world. However, this time we knew that something had changed. We both yearned for the whole package. We wanted Africa in its raw form to fulfill our life’s dream. A breakout into the vastness as a getaway every few years was no longer enough. Our careers and the lives we were living no longer fulfilled us.

Kalle decided to take an extreme step in her career and chose to take a sabbatical year. I started a new relationship and became a mother.

For both of us, the next two years were a time filled with new insights, experiences, and beautiful adventures. Kalle chose to change her job and life focus and moved back to her old home of Leipzig.

After maternity leave, I returned to my previous job. My company was changing without effectively changing anything at all. Work was unfulfilling.

During that time, Kalle and I communicated almost daily and pondered our next adventure.

We had a vision. The idea for our road map to  Mzansi Trading was born

In March 2021, we devised an itinerary, an adventurous idea, and, as always, our love for Africa was now imprinted deep within our hearts.

Once again, it fell during April, this time, 2021, amid the worldwide Covid 19 pandemic, when we embarked on our third adventure.

Restricted by travel protocol and facing the unknown of this new world trauma, paired with the urge to break away from our corporate routines, we decided to tackle life, the dream, and “just do it.”

 We founded Mzansi Trading and bought the web domain wwwmzansitrading.com

Our initial intention was to share our passion for Africa and its rich and vast landscapes by providing travel guides and offering eco-tours. We wanted to recreate what we had experienced in our exploration of the magical continent, the roads less traveled, unique itineraries, and individual schedules based on the requirements of our clients.

We wanted our clients to experience something so unique that they, too, would be left with long-lasting memories and the same impact that we had experienced. We aimed to provide an adventure connecting the traveler forever with the places explored.

The challenge we faced was that globally the world went into lockdown. There was no possibility of foreseeing how long this would last and what the consequences would be during and after the pandemic. Would we ever be able to travel freely again?

The question on everyone’s lips in the Tourism Industry was how this would affect travel and hospitality. We had no idea when we would see each other and whether we would be able to explore and discover Africa and its hidden gems again.

A significant part of our journeys was always to bring back a token, a “Mitbringsel,” a little gift or piece of art. Something that would remind us long after returning home of the unique and magical adventure.

Our “keepsake token” throughout our trips was a special Basotho blanket. We treasured it like gold, not only because it kept us snuggly warm but also because it connected us with Africa, the bush, and the spirit that resonated with us. The blanket became a symbol of our starry nights under the African sky. Along with the blanket, there were other representations like a special knitted jersey, a handcrafted bag, a beautifully woven poncho, and a painting from a local artist.

Suppose we could find and select such “tokens” which could symbolize and represent the spirit, feeling, and emotion to connect to Africa. In that case, we could enable people to “travel” through Africa without physically being there. We would source those special items on their behalf and bring them back to Germany and Europe.

In essence, the idea was that one could travel virtually through Africa and order items “along the way” and have them couriered home. Our selection had to be authentic, original, easy to transport, and nonperishable. Above all, it would have to be made in Africa. The item would have to speak to our clients of its Africanassity and fit into a “box” to make it transportable.

We reviewed our travel history and looked at what we would usually bring back from adventures and why we had chosen the items of significance. Fabrics and Art were the standard items. Hence, that’s how we would “transport” the spirit and joy of life in Africa: through artisan fabrics.

EUREKA: We planned to do this through e-commerce! We planned to travel virtually through Africa and take the world with us.

Of course, we knew we weren’t the first or the only entrepreneurs engaging in import-export between Africa and Germany.

We planned first to build relationships with our suppliers. We wanted to understand the process and the people behind the products, the ideas, and the creation thereof. To tell the story to our clients, we had to hear the story first. Therefore, we embarked on a mission to start with a brand we had already seen and liked ourselves.

 During an afternoon stroll in Kalk Bay, I (Tanja) saw a beautiful display of Whimsical bags in a Curio shop. Their designs and production of colour immediately caught my attention. There was something special, something unique and beautiful, that made those bags and fabrics stand out. When I saw them, it was as if they had been waiting for me to discover them, like when one spots an elusive creature in the perfect light and moment in the wild. The Art Safari had begun.

I shared my discovery with Stefanie (RELEVANCE?), and a few days later, I met up with the owner of Whimsical Collection in Muizenberg. That was the beginning of our partnership. They would become our first brand to promote and share with prospective clients.

We wanted our clients to be able to purchase a beautiful and unique item, traceable in all its processes. Even though they could not be present to stand in the studio with us when we selected our collection, we wanted them to be able to experience our Art Safari virtually.

We share the story of the artists and their visions on our website, together with the makers. They feature in interviews and photos where they create the products we sell. It is fascinating to see how and where they are made.

We invite our clients and friends to meet the team behind the product. We are transparent about who creates the magnificent creations that we showcase. Our concept of sharing and connecting includes the artist from the start of making the item to the recipient’s purchase.

We invite our clients to provide us with constructive feedback. If there is a need to improve upon the product, we want to be able to do this. Open dialog is critical to us, addressing any aspect between the origin and the destination.

Mzansi Trading wants to be more than just an e-commerce platform to sell products – Mzansi Trading wants to be a platform TO MEET, TO SHARE, AND TO CONNECT.

Mzansi Trading takes its audience along on our Art Safari. We share locations and discoveries on social media, enabling our followers to be part of our excursions. We want them to interact with us and track each adventure. We want to allow everyone to travel the world and explore the funky painting from the artist at the corner café, local hand-crafted art, or beautifully sewn fabrics. We want our artists and creators to meet their fans worldwide, get their feedback, and connect with an audience much more significant than at their local places of creation. Meandering through our platforms allows our customers to live out their wanderlust, and for our artists, it opens an international gallery for their art to be seen.

Our products are lovingly handmade by small teams with a strong camaraderie who are like family to each other. The workers are proud of what they produce. Unlike extensive assembly lines and mass-produced productions, we have a concise trail from the artist to the client. Each product represents the artist’s passion and is visible and palpable. Every design holds a piece of the artist’s soul. It’s the journey over and above the destination that we share.

Our suppliers, creators, and artists are all integral to this venture as equal shareholders.

Our customers receive an inspirational and soulful representation of Africa’s spirit. Our curated art gets to travel to the other side of the globe. The stories, designs, ideas, art, and voice get distributed internationally.

Our aim to create a personal experience with Africa that will evolve into the same passion that we discovered, and hold onto so tightly, is what we wish to achieve.

We are proud of the origin of our product selection. Through art and creation, mutual support, and caring for each other, we connect people, not just with each other but with the magical spirit of Africa.

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