Meet Anel & Jen

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I have to say it, discovering Your Weekly Edit has been the highlight of this (short) year thus far! It was just last week when I saw one of these planners on one of my colleague’s desk, and asked to page through it when I realized that my 2017 was not going to be the same again! I literally ran back to my desk and looked online for the sellers or creators of something so beautiful! Contacting them couldn’t have waited another minute – I knew these two women were something special!

Meet Anel Van Der Merwe and Jennifer Attwood-Smith, co-founders of Blush Paper Company and creators of Your Weekly Edit, a daily planner available in four different designs that features a dated monthly view with goal setting and notes; a dinner planner; to-do lists, a water intake counter; exercise tracker as well as inspirational quotes and tips throughout! The planners also include monthly budgeting, vacation planning and shopping lists – all packed into an exquisite ring-bound creation that screams ‘serious, hardworking and chic’! Continue reading below as Anel & Jen take us through a story of creativity, love, hard work and passion…

 

Full Names: Anel Van Der Merwe and Jennifer Attwood-Smith

Age (s): Anel – 28/Jen – 34

Educational Background (s):

Jen – Bachelor of Social Science, Politics, and Sociology

Anel – Master in Food Culture and Communications from Università degli Studi Gastronomiche in Italy, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Current Title/Company:

Jen – Mother and Co-Founder of Blush Paper Company

Anel – Health Coach and Co-Founder of Blush Paper Company

Current City: Cape Town & Johannesburg

Anel and Jen, you are the co-founders of Blush Paper Company, a business specializing in creating and selling beautiful, unique daily planners appropriately called Your Weekly Edit. Your Weekly Edit goes far beyond being a mere diary or planner, and contains pages of inspiration for making purposeful plans, setting attainable goals and striving to live a healthy life. Take us through the journey towards making such a beautiful creation?

Anel: It all started when I was looking for a weekly planner with specific functional details in terms of scheduling and goal setting. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in South Africa and so I looked overseas. There were so many options overseas but (1) they were, naturally, too expensive to ship to SA and (2) they weren’t exactly what I was looking for design wise. So I chatted to Jen about my frustrations one morning and that evening (typical Jen style – determined, decisive, and hustling!) received a message from her asking if we shouldn’t design our own planner – one created by us, how we wanted it to be, and for our local market. And that was that! We started in August 2016 and by December we were selling our planners online. It was a whirlwind journey of hard work, late nights, and loads of coffee but we are overjoyed with the end result and the response we’ve had from customers. We sold out in just under 2 months! We loved the process of creating a planner with all the functional bits that we find important in daily life (goal setting, practicing gratitude, keeping our water intake in check etc.). And using the planner now has made us fall in love with it even more!

When one looks at one your planners, it is evident that much time, hard work, and love went into its creation. Could you take us through the end-to-end process of its creation? How easy was it to source suppliers and other stakeholders?

We aren’t designers so we had to find a graphic designer we love and trust and who understood our vision from the get go. We found that in Marcelle Van Niekerk from MVN Designs. She was amazing and really brought our ideas to life. We physically sat and (old-world as we are) drew up the layout of all the pages on a piece of paper with the exact wording and style we wanted (all the way down to how the bullet points should look!). We showed them to Marcelle who waved her magic designer wand to bring our ideas to life. We had a very clear vision of the layout of the planner, the different sections we wanted, and the look and feel of the actual book. We were really firm on all of these points which made the process easier. The printing company we use is based in Johannesburg and were amazing to work with. We found them through a family contact. We loved working with all local creators – we really feel that it boosts the quality and value of our planner. Every single detail was so well looked after by every person involved in this project and you can only get that from local suppliers. It put us in control too – we knew exactly what we were getting and could tweak as we needed.

As co-founders and friends, what would you say have been some of the challenges of working together as business partners?

Working together has been the best. We are very much on the same wavelength when it comes to style, design, and work ethic. We have similar values and ways of handling situations so we really complimented each other in this regard. Of course, being friends, when it comes to difference in opinion it can get tricky. But you have to pick your battles – if you feel very strongly about a certain something and less strongly about something else, you fight for the strong love and let the weak love go.

We can’t get over how aesthetically pleasing Your Weekly Edit is! What would you say has been the contributing factor towards the success of your business – your creativity or your hard work?

We think both for sure! It took a boat load of hard work to get this planner to market but it would not have been successful if the planner was not aesthetically pleasing. The two go hand in hand. Ultimately though, the design and more importantly, the useability and high quality of the planner is what sets it apart from any other planner on the market (in our opinion!) and we think that’s why the reaction has been so positive.

Anel, you are presently a health coach, while Jen is a home executive raising twin girls. How do your respective careers and lifestyles feed into your careers as entrepreneurs?

It’s been quite a juggling act balancing both of our careers and lives with creating Your Weekly Edit but we made it work. I think it’s because we have such respect for each other and we support each other completely. If one of us has a crisis we need to handle, the other will pick up the slack and vice versa. Life happens and balancing life and career is so important to stay sane and deliver high quality work. So we make sure to keep each other in check and support and uplift each other when needed.

Outside of sticking to the name of the company, is there a particular reason the colours blush and gold were chosen as the overriding theme for your planners?

We chose blush and gold because we both are in love with these two colours. The simplicity of the blush contrasted against the beauty of the gold makes us smile every day. It’s as simple as that.

Take us through what a typical work day looks like for you?

Jen: Anel and I’s days look completely different, even moreso now that Anel has moved to Cape Town while I am based in Johannesburg. We both love to start early (me mostly because my twins are up at the crack of dawn!) so we’ll usually have a little chat in the morning over the phone about what we want to get done that day, who we need to contact, orders we need to send out etc. And then we’ll just get cracking! Every day is different which is so great and keeps us on our toes and refreshed constantly.

As co-founders, entrepreneurs and friends, what advice would you give to others who wish to start a business with a friend or colleague?

Choose your business partner wisely. You want it to be someone with whom you can be brutally honest and who is mature and can handle criticism just as well as they handle a compliment. Make sure this person has the same values (personal and business wise) and shares your vision completely. Also make sure that this person can enjoy a glass of wine with you…this is non-negotiable!

Morning or night?  Morning for sure!! In an ideal world we both love to be in bed by 8pm 😉

If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?  

Natalie Massenet  – founder of Net-A-Porter. I would order champagne and sushi [Jen]

I’m (obsessively) watching The Crown at the moment so Queen Elizabeth is topping my list. I’d order something vegan for both of us – have to challenge her a bit! [Anel]

I wish I knew how to…

Sew! I’d love to be able to make my own clothes. [Anel]

Paint – I absolutely love art but cant afford the pieces I would like so if I could create my own pieces – bonus! [Jen]

South Africa is… A blessing, unique & inspiring.

Worst money mistake… Definitely impulse shopping!

Best investment… Your health – buying good quality foods to nourish your body so it can be at its best for you! [Anel]

My family  – they are my long term investment [Jen]

Motivation in 3 words… “I can and I will” …that’s five but two one-letter words can’t possibly count!. LOL [Anel]

“Be present always” [Jen]

 

 

 

 

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