Dear Conceptual Eyes
Before I met you, I used to dream of love and finding that so-called “special” someone. I planned my wedding before falling asleep at night and would insert any groom into the scenario. Was this normal? I don’t know but the men in my life often said I lived way too far in the future and that I loved them not for who they were in that moment but for the potential I could see in them.
I knew how to dream, I knew how to plan and I most definitely could see potential in people. I did not know how to channel that energy into something other than a love story.
The first time I knew that you existed I was 7 years old. My shareholders have always said that ever since then I have been building the foundation to discovering you. When I was a young child I spent every December holidays in Morgan Bay. I fell in love with the beach, the hotel where we stayed and the entertainment programme that they ran. From that moment I knew I was different. I could not help myself from suggesting alternative games or changing the dynamic of what was planned for the day. I was in my element coordinating an army of 12-year-olds. As the years passed by I transformed from being one of the holiday kids to officially running the entertainment programme. In my early 20s I was the self-proclaimed Queen of Morgan Bay. It was where I found my happy place (ironically always the setting of all my wedding fantasies, but that is not the point right now).
I spent six weeks of my university holidays at Morgan Bay inspiring others and designing fun opportunities. In these moments I was never criticised for living in the future. In fact my ability to foresee which moments would be fun for the groups made me love this job. I made it my personal responsibility to transform these moments into memories for each hotel guest. My art degree gave me the structure to think critically and creatively but it was the ability to design a moment from nothing that inspired me.
In 2011 I stepped out of my Morgan Bay bubble and into the real world. I began to see how orchestrating fun opportunities and designing moments was an actual job and that I wasn’t alone with this strange skill. My first official job in teambuilding with Dream Team Catalyst opened my heart to something far bigger than what I was exposed to at art school or the Morgan Bay Hotel. It showed me how to adapt my ideas of creative collaboration and allowed me to dream of a bigger love story. However within 8 months I was ready to see the world. The whirlwind that followed was far bigger than even I had dreamt.
My big break – to work at an International Teambuilding Company in Europe!
When I moved to Belgium to join Hercules Trophy I had no idea that every love story I had ever dreamt was about to be rewritten.
Belgium was cold. I was “alone”. I had no wedding to dream about. There was no boyfriend in sight to insert into some over romanticised scenario. There I was, living in a house with a family in the country side.
It was there that I discovered the real me. Under that roof I was able to analyse entrepreneurship. Living, breathing, loving and hating the start-up changed my life. I saw people love their business with their whole being. I saw the light in their eyes shine at every small win. I witnessed the sadness when the business disappointed them. I saw the focus it took to hold on to that vision even when it didn’t always seem possible. I lived through that love, but I didn’t always understand it, until now. Now I have my own love, I have my love for you Conceptual Eyes.
I knew that you were out there waiting for me, and I was determined to find you. I was young, naive, slightly arrogant but brave and ready to risk it all.
I was in Germany for a Summer School programme when we first officially met in that coffee shop in Berlin. It was love at first sight. Everything started to make sense. I began to understand you and saw how we were destined to be together.
During those first few months back in South Africa we were very lucky because we crossed paths with remarkable people who believed in us before we even had a definition for who we were. We found a mentor, we found an investor, we found a partner and an unexpected friendship that made this all possible.
Every minute spent with you was mind-blowing. We spent hours discussing our future. We dreamt of the potential we all had and the impact we could make on the country and in the lives of artists. It was never scary to dream. It was exciting to live in the future and to work towards that picture. When I met you, you opened a world of endless possibility – you saw the magic in the mundane, the gap in conferences and internal communication. You saw how mixing business and art was an untapped market. You inspired artists to find the courage to draw live in front of a room of strangers. You gave people a career they did not know was possible. You gave freely. You were kind but there were times when I let people take advantage of you and for that I am truly sorry. People have challenged you, they have tried to change you but you have been strong and learnt from each failure and for that I will always be proud of you.
Over the last four years you have loved me back unconditionally and I thank you for the opportunities you have and continue to give me and local creatives every day. I am thankful for the way you have let me grow. Some days have been tough. Days where you make my heart race so fast that I forget to breathe but without you I would not be the woman I am today. I am stronger now than I ever was because you have given me the confidence to make magic from nothing. You have taught me how to scale the ability to transform moments into memories. You have brought many different people into my life from whom I can learn. You have made me rethink existing relationships. You have pulled and pushed people in and out of my life. You have shown me how to trust my instincts and how to adapt when things do not work out according to the plan.
With you I can design my own future. Now every night before I go to bed I am free to plan the next phase of our lives and provide the platform for those who have joined us on this venture to also build a life that exceeds their childhood daydreams. You have not replaced romance in my life, instead you have given me something much bigger to think about.
I am so happy I found you.
P.S. Special thank-you’s to my family and friends who have supported me through the ups and downs of this venture, my co-founder, investor and friend Kay Inkster, my mentor Kevin Gaskell, my colleague Kerry Moseley , Wits School of the Arts, Hercules Trophy, Dream Team Catalyst, Morgan Bay Hotel, the artists, suppliers and clients (and Sage One) who make this all possible.
Cover Photo Credit : Camilla Pontiggia