Real Wahms of SA: Vernita designs

Today we interview Vernita, Okay so I don’t know her personally but she has such a likable personality it just pops off every email we have exchanged so far, one of those people you feel like you could certainly hang out with 🙂 Vernita is SEO and Design specialist and really has an eye for pretty things… Here is her view on being a Wahm…

Tell us about your family
I am so blessed with a lovely and supportive fiancé and two beautiful children – Andrew, 7 and Ava, 4. I don’t often work when they are home so I am not even sure they really understand what I do. It’s quite funny – just a few days ago Ava was standing behind me looking over my shoulder as I was making an ad. She very sweetly said: “That is nice broccoli Mamma”  Little did she know I was actually making a flower 🙂 The honesty of children keeps us humble! I’m glad to say that after colouring the artwork and a few more hours of tweaking, it eventually looked like a flower!  We lived in the UK for 11 years where the children were born and moved back to South Africa last year. We are so pleased to be back and are really making the most of this beautiful country. It does mean building up a whole new client base which can be tricky.

Why did you become a work from home mom
I used to be a nursery school teacher, and I remember feeling so sorry for the mothers that had to drop their children at 7am and pick them up at 6pm. You could feel the pain in their hearts and you just wanted to give them a hug and say “it is ok, your child will be fine”. I was quite young at this stage so I guess it had a big impact on who I became as a mother. From a young age I vowed two things  – never stay in a job that doesn’t fulfill you and secondly, if at all possible to stay at home until our kids go to school. I am very lucky that through a series of “coincidences” I managed to create a situation where I can do what I love and stay at home with the kids. I put coincidences in quotation marks because I truly believe that we create our own future through our thoughts and prayers. If we believe it and we put in the hard work it can happen for anyone. The fact that I had a very supportive man at my side that helped with the children, the housework, emotional support not to mention just believing in me was a huge bonus. He also knows just when to produce a chocolate when things get rough!

What was the most unexpected part of becoming a wahm
This probably sounds a bit naïve but I didn’t think it would be so lonely at times. As a freelancer at that stage most of my work was done by email so I could easily go for days without seeing anyone. I slowly got the hang of it and planned my days better so that I could see other moms and take my baby on little outings which made it easier.  I was also surprised to find myself a little judged by full time working moms. It was as if some of them – obviously not all of them – felt it was an excuse not to work, when in my opinion I worked much harder as a WAHM then when I worked in the office.

What has been the hardest part
The hardest part is getting the balance right between work time and family time. Putting the work aside, switching off and just enjoying time with the family. Some days are easier than others but I still struggle with this. If I have a deadline lurking, I still tend to stress too much and put family time off. In the end I might get the job done but I feel so guilty as a mother that it is not worth it. I’m working on that!

What is the most rewarding
The most rewarding thing about being at home is that I’m able to attend my children’s after school activities, see how they are developing into little people – this is just priceless. Having their friends over for playdates or just at a moment’s notice meeting someone for a play in the park is just what it is all about. The most rewarding thing about my work is handing over a project to someone and seeing their appreciation. Knowing I’ve done more than what was asked and the customer enjoying the end product. And I’ll be honest, if it means a lovely pair of new boots at the end of the month – that is great too!

What is your day like
My days vary A LOT. Which is good because I am not a 9 – 5 type of girl. But it means good organisational skills and lots of planning. Which again – I’m working on!
I work in the mornings and then I pick my girly up from school at 12h15. When we get home we have some girly time, read stories, puzzles, practice reading or sometimes just doing nails and chatting about our day. She is an extremely independent and headstrong young lady so this time is very valuable, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to have it!
I pick Andrew up at 14h00 or 15h15 depending what happens after school that day. And then every day is different depending on activities, playdates, shopping or just playing at home. We are very lucky that the two of them get on well. So if I have a deadline and I have to work in the afternoon, the two of them play very well together – most of the time. I probably just jinxed that!
17h00 I usually start cooking and at 18h00 we all sit down to have supper together and after that is getting ready for bed, brushing teeth and story time.
At about 19h30 – 20h00 I start working again. I try to get to bed at about 23h00 but truth be told, it is usually later than that. Sometimes much later! I’m working on that too! I think it is fair to say I am a work in progress 🙂

Tell us about your business
My business is called Red Swirl Design. I do web and graphic design and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for small to medium size businesses. I do pretty much everything from business cards to pamphlets, both print media and digital. These days a big part of my business is electronic invitations for weddings and birthdays. My favourite thing to do is Wedding websites, I can put so much of the couples personality and likes and dislikes into the website that every website is different. I love that! Even with business websites I try to make everyone different. I want to really capture the business, their target market and the product or service the company delivers. Because it is still a small business I can quite easily work with customers to create something within their budget. We plan the design together so that we can incorporate as many features as they can afford.

Where did business idea and name come from
I have always loved designing. I studied fashion designing after school but there was one little snag…I hate sewing with a passion. I started playing with Photoshop and one day while I was on maternity leave with my first born, my fiancé asked me if I can make a new skin for a software program he worked on. I did it and his boss was so impressed he offered me a job. I started working for them from home going into the office once a week designing a wide range of print and digital media. I just knew I   had found my passion. When another lady in the company went on maternity leave they asked me to manage the website and intranet too so that gave me a foot in the door to develop my web skills more. By then  I had completed various courses including my Webmasters Diploma, so by the time I had my next baby I was confident enough to start doing freelance work. When we moved to South Africa a year ago I decided to stop working as a freelancer and start a business. It took me ages to decide on the name. I played around with various different ideas and logos but I didn’t really like any of it. One day it just kind of …clicked…Red Swirl Design… I wish I had a deep and meaningful explanation but I don’t…it just clicked. I like it.

What sets you apart
What sets me apart…I try to really get to know my clients, I want to create something that is personal to them. Everyone is different so if I use the same generic template it is not going to speak to you or your clients and it is going to be very boring for me. I want to show who you are and what you or your business represent. Because I work from home my prices are lower and because I work odd hours I only take on one or two projects at a time. So you know you will get a lot of personal attention from me.
On a more personal note, since I moved back to South Africa a year ago, I also realised we have a deeper problem here. I have to be careful with what I say here because I don’t want to insult anyone and of course it isn’t everyone, but I have been stunned and shocked at the quality of websites and the nonsense some web-designers tell clients. They tell them anything to get the business, then do a terrible job and a few months later I have to fix the mess. So I am on a mission to educated the people of  South Africa as to what is needed with a website, what you don’t need, what is a waste of money and most importantly what questions to ask. Shop around, speak to designers and get a feel for what they can do for you. Do your own research and designers… be honest with your customers, charge appropriately and don’t forget about your customer once the project is done. Help them where you can so that they can help themselves. We have a very conservative market when it comes to using the internet,  so with this lack of knowledge customers are not confident enough to ask questions and some designers really take advantage of that. And now …stepping off my soapbox!

Where do you see it going

When my youngest goes to primary school I hope to take on more work.  I will be able to work longer hours during the day and maybe even less at night! The business should grow organically so hopefully in time I can take on people to help.  Hopefully I will always be the one dealing with the clients and doing the design work because I love that.

Vernita Kruger
Red Swirl Design

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