Matric Farewell Fever

It is that time of the year again when we say good bye to our matric learners with all the necessary bells and whistles.  With my Emma in matric this year I would like to share my experience with the conceptualisation of the 2015 Bloemhof Girls School matric farewell.

Carli in action

I never agree to do school projects as I am busy with retail installations all year round, so when the head of the governing body phoned me to see if she can convince me with a promise of a super slick project manager, I agreed.  And what a fantastic project this was.  I did very little as Carli Pfaff, the project manager, was not just there to get all the moms going but she had a clear creative idea with so many very creative and eager mums behind her.  I assisted with pulling it all together, sourcing references, identifying short cuts and ensuring we stay true to the theme.  And for all my sins I played traffic officer and head of installation on our final day.



The theme started with another clever mum remembering this special quote: ‘If adventure does not wait on your doorstep, climb out through the window ….’  As matric farewell parties always have a theme it was so refreshing to have a clever line of inspiration to lead the creative process and not another corny Arabian Nights or Paris Cafe.  These inspirational quotes gave us a wonderful opportunity to basically add any creative overlay.  As clever words in a creative font was trending at the time it was the obvious solution.  After we selected the correct font we decided to carry this very naive style throught onto all our elements.  We were blessed to have a few artists among our mum-squad and this very creative process kicked off.



z11Picture1The beauty of a project like this, where strict budgets, very different personalities and over-excited 16 year olds all have to work together can be a challenge but this project was smooth sailing all the way.  Mums and their daughters worked in mini teams with designer production lines like you’ve never seen before.


As a mum of one of these 16 year old girls it was  extra special to utilise my Emma’s creative skills.  It started with her, one Sunday evening, drawing all the uniforms and outfits of the various crew members with another wonderful mum who copied them on all the actual garments.  Cheap white and black acetate was used to create all the different silhouettes with 2 dimensional lines to cheat the eye.


One must realise that the project has no longevity so all the substrates must be cheap but easy to paint on.  To have an artist on your side makes life very easy as we created all the last minute elements on the spot, 3-5 hours before the event.


The first impression is always the wow factor at these events.  We copied a floral wall with a team of learners and a very creative mum.  All the flowers were created in a few days with typing paper.  This wall was utilised for all the group and couple pictures. Interactive windows on both sides added the final wow factor. Paper was used to cover some of the Stellenbosch City Hall’s old grandeur as the look had to remain white and crisp.


From day I we had an element on our wish list that the budget could not allow – a hot air balloon to float in the ceiling – a bit of a symbolic gesture to shout ‘the sky is  your limit‘. We had to settle for 2nd price and with balloons, a covered table and a bit of imagination we settled that it was enough of a vocal element.z9Picture1

Even the toilets were kitted out in elements so true to the theme.  Carli had a dedicated team in action that amazed me with there attention to detail and fun.   z10


Then last but not the least.  Each grade 11 girl had a very specific make-up and hair look.  Again one of the mums with past experiences in stage make-up coordinated this final bit of detail.

O what fun we had.  And yes, the sceptics will question all the drama, effort and detail, but we provided 4 hours of inspiration and creative energy for these special girls.  Not just for our matrics but also for the grade 11 crew!


Fashion Blooming

Today I am celebrating my 3 year anniversary of consulting for Queenspark, South Africa’s retailer of affordable luxury.  Finding a visual communication strategy for this brand was one of my most challenging, but most rewarding experiences.  You so often hear fashion retailers talking about  advertising campaigns to attract a younger, or a more fashionable or my best, a more aspirational customer.  At Queenspark we celebrate a more mature fashion identity and rather focus on ways to give our consumers a fashion offer true to our winning recipe of elegance and luxury at an affordable price.

IMG_5097But what will ladies fashion be without florals, flowers, ditsies or the trending BLOOMing.  Summer’15 was again a perfect opportunity to introduce florals to support Queenspark’s summer collection.  I had so many ideas but to do a window with a limited budget, for 56 stores, with an easy implementation pack and no fancy architectural prop can be tricky.

Luckily I have access to the very talented designer, Candice Gericke, who truly understands the power of visual merchandising.  She  makes sense of all my ideas and together we can pull it into a focused campaign. She is also the queen of identifying affordable props that can be made in South Africa.



It all started when she discovered the painting of all paintings.  A Dutch still life from the 17th century – by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-84) from the Rijksmuseum.

The colour combinations and the elegance of the flower composition  on the dramatic dark background was the perfect combination for our campaign.  Not only did it offer a good generic window solution but also something different for our stills photography back drop.

Plinth covers with a contrasting print, 2 big fabric flowers, a window decal and a bright floor cover was rolled out to all stores.




It created the perfect level of fashion attitude combined with elegance and femininity.


Our print campaign:123Picture1wwPicture1

and the behind the scenes for all the action

This painting recently popped up on bags, cushion covers and linen table cloths all over the retail scene.

Thank you Jan!  We love your blooms!