When you have a mind and talent like Liesl, magical things happen.
Liesl, a children’s book illustrator, started Fairy Caravan 5 years ago, but her inspiration comes from a trip to the library as a toddler and discovering Beatrix Potter’s works. When Liesl was looking for a name that would suit her business she once again turned to her favourite childhood author and a book named The Fairy Caravan.
Each doll, toy or décor item starts as an illustration on paper, which is then digitally printed onto (mostly) fabric with waterbased inks at a local printer in the Western Cape. These magical illustrations come to life as three-dimensional toys in the hands of seamstresses and Liesl.
Everything is local
When a product is truly made in South Africa you can trace the hands and people behind a product – and this makes it more special: Fairy Caravan sources it’s cotton fabrics locally; The seamstresses are also local and can work from home; The fabric printers are local; But the product is bringing joy to kids all over the world.
Liesl has her studio in the Western Cape where she draws, manufactures and keeps stock ready for shipment. Nowadays stories are also woven about the characters she creates (these will be available through a subscription service).
Imagine your child with their own beautiful fairy listening to the story of how she came to be. That would just be magical!
Making a maker choose their favourite item is always a hard question, but it also tells you just how passionate someone is about their own products when they struggle to choose. Liesl chose the Fairy Babies as her favourite product.
The Fairy Babies are simple baby dolls that are suitable for little girls to play with – and isn’t too delicate. The faces of the little Fairy Babies will appeal to girls even as they grow older.
“I put a lot of love into the drawings of the faces of these little babies!”
Fairy Babies are available in 2 sizes – perfect for home décor, special gifts and as a keepsake.
- Larger Fairy Babies that will make you hug them
- Mini Fairy Babies that will fit snugly into your hand and melt your heart
One of the best-selling product lines out of the Fairy Caravan studio have been the sleepy animal pillows. Currently there are 8 different sleepy animals available – from bunnies to hedgehogs and even a wild cat.
A must-have from Fairy Caravan is a Fairy Doll. Each doll is hand-crafted and ends up being unique. These fairies come with their own “passports” and a booklet with care instructions, unique number and date of birth. A new addition to the family, the Unicorn, will also be a wonderful friend for you Fairy Doll and transport your little one into the world of imagination and help create magical childhood memories.
Want to get your hands on Fairy Caravan’s magical creatures?
You can get your hands on Fairy Caravan’s magical creatures online at:
These magical little creatures have made their way across the world to the US, UK, Europe, Australia and even Russia already!
The best advice…
Liesl is inspired by Marie Forleo who said “Eveything is figureoutable”. Everytime she comes up against an obstacle, this serves as a reminder that she will overcome this too.
She also has some advice for others starting their own business:
“The best advice that I can offer is that growing a business takes time and perseverance and that one should not expect overnight success – or become despondent when things don’t happen as fast as you’d like. I have found that loving what I do and being passionate about my business have carried me through the tough times. The feeling of accomplishment when you start to taste success from something that you have worked very hard at is incredible and makes it all worth it.
There are also advantages to growing slowly – for example, I have been able to fine-tune the kind of products that I make. I started out focusing on children’s room decor, and would probably not have started making dolls and toys (that I now find more creatively satisfying to design and make) if I experienced overwhelming success designing linen and wall stickers for children’s rooms.”
On expansion and obstacles…
2017 is the year of stories and becoming a household name in South Africa. Last year 11 new characters were added to the Fairy Caravan family.
“I have always wanted to have my illustrations printed on fabric, but for a long time I couldn’t find a fabric printer that was a good fit for what I needed. I met with many potential service providers, but they were either very expensive or required large minimum orders, which I couldn’t commit to as a fledgling business.
I don’t know what made me persevere in trying to find a fabric printer that was a good fit for what I wanted to create, but I’m glad that I did, and that I ended up finding someone whom I love working with, because today most of my products are made from printed fabric and I love creating with fabric.
As with most small business owners I am constantly battling the catch-22 situation of needing more employees to be able to grow, but not being able to afford paying someone’s salary just yet. I have been able to overcome this problem by rather taking on part-time workers to complete piecework for me. It is important to me that I pay a decent wage for work that I ask someone to do for me, so I feel that if I can’t pay a decent salary just yet, I can at least pay a decent hourly fee for part-time work.”
The people that surround you…
Liesl is married to her soulmate, James, who is also an entrepreneur. The rest of the troupe is made up of Ophelia, the cat, that makes sure that eating and sleeping is a priority and Charlie, a border collie, who loves long walks in the park and playtime.
As a dedicated business owner spending time with friends, swopping stories on life, work and business over tea is one of the best luxuries.
I admire people that follow their dreams and create flourishing businesses like Liesl and her Fairy Caravan. I can only hope that this illustrator will publish books I can give to Charlotte, because her work is so unique and wonderful and I would love my kid/s to have a world of beautiful creatures and magical fairies.