As a small business, we love the idea of you getting to know us and the story behind the company. As such, our founder Maguy Steib, sat down with me to discuss the all things VEVLBLEU and the inspiration which birthed this social venture.
Our brilliant and creatively-driven founder was born in the paradise islands of the Seychelles and lived there for 10 years, before moving to the multi-cultural tapestry that is South Africa. Her journey through life has taught her many things; including gratitude, the impact of philanthropy, and above all, the value of community. Now residing in Europe, Maguy gives us insight into her and the business she lovingly created; so, let’s get into it!
Q: So, Maguy, where did your inspiration for VEVBLEU come from?
A: Well, it started with a conversation I had with my mother and my sister. It was an idea which started during the pandemic of 2020, right when the world went into lockdown due to COVID-19. We were discussing how many women now no longer had an escape from gender-based violence (GBV). We heard about how young girls were having to drop out of school and marry, due to financial constraints facing their families; and this really concerned me. Many women did not have the funds for things such as sanitary pads because the family needed that money for food. On top of that, we saw many people lose their jobs during the pandemic. All of these factors created a situation where the needs and empowerment of women were overlooked and I wanted to help.
Q: So, would you say that VEVBLEU is more of a venture to help women than a business?
A: I would say it’s a balance because through the business, we don’t only help the woman in need. We focus on empowering and providing opportunities for women through the business too. There are a lot of women behind the scene – from photography, to the artists, the models, the writer and content creators; it’s all about women supporting women. Our philanthropic mission is just an additional aspect of our business and is grounded through the belief that if you educate a woman, you educate a family; and this ends generational poverty. If you do not educate a woman, she cannot educate her children. For example, some people may look at a tree and see firewood, out of necessity; but if you educate a woman about the importance of that tree and how it impacts our health, she will tell her children and so the cycle begins. We all have to do our part to build a better world for the future, and this is how we think we can help; through education.
Q: What would you like to achieve through the company?
A: I want to change the lives of women; through education and empowerment. I also want to serve as inspiration to young women around the world so that the young girl can know that she can achieve anything; not only because of my story but because of the women in our company. I want them to know that no matter their circumstance, they can be anything they want. It may not happen overnight and it definitely won’t be easy, but if they work hard, persevere and have the support of like-minded women, they can build the life they want.
Q: Why is it so important to you that your company follows an Eco-friendly model?
A: Well, we can educate as much as we want but if we don’t protect our planet, there won’t be a future for anybody. Developing countries are often affected very harshly by environmental practices that are not safe, due to their financial need; but if communities are educated, they will begin to fight for their community and help to preserve the plant for future generations. By us having eco-friendly products, not only are we creating products that are better for the user, but it’s better for the planet too. It’s what we can do for the world, even if it’s small.
Q: How do you think growing up in South Africa impacted your life?
A: It really impacted my life in a positive way. As I grew older, I realised how privileged I was because I saw a lot of inequality and that level of gratitude stayed with me throughout my life. However, the biggest thing I noticed growing up in Africa was that it is a continent of community. In Africa, you are nothing without your community. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” rings true in that continent. Even though I live away form my home now, that mentality hasn’t left me. I came to Europe and searched for that feeling of community; and now through VEVBLEU I want to build a community. I also want to help the community I grew up in. South Africa will always be my home and linger in my heart, so I want to give back to the “village” that raised me. The education aspect is also something I take with me. In Western parts of the world, we take our access to education and information for granted; but in many places across Africa, having access to education is a privilege. That is where we think we can make the biggest difference, through our community and our business.
Q: Do you feel like you were always connected to, and inspired by, art?
A: Yes, for as long as I can remember. In fact, my mother would say that my first art project was when I styled the curtains and bedsheets with a pair of scissors as a child and I drew on the walls. I then completed my schooling with art as a subject, where my love for art really grew; but I always felt like I had a more creative look on life. I love colour, nature and the different forms of art; this is why I loved designing the Ubuntu Collection.
Q: As the founder of a company which focuses on wellness, is there anything you have learnt on the mat that you have taken into your everyday life?
A: Yes, I’ve learnt that you don’t have to be perfect on the mat, and I’m not perfect or really flexible, but I enjoy it so I continue to practice because when I am on that mat, it’s time that I have put aside for myself. For those 30 or so minutes, I block out everything and take care of what I need; and this is something I have adopted in my life too. I’ve realised that I don’t need to be perfect to enjoy doing something and that self-care is vital in order for me to be the best version of myself. Additionally, a huge thing I’ve learnt is gratitude. Through that time on the mat, I have become more grateful for everything in my life. I appreciate the people and relationships in my life more. I’m even grateful for things that don’t go my way because they often lead to something better. I think especially now with this pandemic, I am so grateful for every conversation, laugh, piece of positive news and even a hug; because we never know when it will be the last moment with that person. Gratitude has become a significant part of my life, because of my time on the mat.
Q: Would you say that practicing yoga has allowed you to slow down and really enjoy every moment?
A: Absolutely. I think that happiness isn’t a permanent state, as much as we have taught that in the past. Throughout life, we experience moments of happiness and we should take notice of every moment and be thankful for it because things can change in an instant. We need to live in these moments and enjoy them – every little happy moment is worth experiencing.
Q: What is your usual morning routine?
A: Well, I usually wake up and before anything, I take out my planner and see what needs to be done for the day. I’ll then make a cup of tea, green tea with peppermint is my favourite, and go through my emails; attending to things that are urgent. I think like to take my dog out for a long walk-through nature, and I spend that time practicing my gratitude by pointing out little things around me that I am thankful for; from the people in my life to the sight of new life in nature. I’ll then come home, roll out my mat and spend about 15 minutes meditating and journaling. After that, I’m ready to take on the day!
Q: Would you say that these steps and the mindset of gratitude has been fundamental to your success?
A: Yes, of course. Being thankful for every moment, even the bad ones, has allowed me to persist and bring my ideas to life. These moments of calm have also allowed me to harness my passion, because businesses don’t succeed without passion, into every aspect of VEVBLEU. Persistence and passion are key!
Q: What’s your favourite dish?
A: Oh! This is easy. Paella with fresh apple juice, and tiramisu as a sweet treat. It’s the perfect balance between spicy and sweet!
Q: If you could have a meal with anybody, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
A: Well, there would be two people. Firstly, Trevor Noah. I think he’s hilarious so the meal would be full of laughter; and we could connect over the fact that we are South African’s living in a different country who are still so connect to our home. Secondly, it would be Nelson Mandela. He’s a huge inspiration to me and I think he showcased the importance of being humble and staying away from violence, no matter the situation.
Q: Our final question, what’s in store for the future of VEVBLEU?
A: Well, we’re already working on more products and another collection of mats that will be perfect for all the jetsetters as the borders open up again! I want to create a collection that pays homage to my birth home, the Seychelles, and one that looks at other countries I have travelled to. Product development takes time because we want to make the best possible product for you, so just bear with us and keep an eye open!
Well, that’s it friends. From a child who drew on walls, to a business that gives back and brings art into your life, whilst celebrating the beauty of Africa. Our founder, Maguy Steib, has shown that following your passion and being grateful throughout the journey will guide you along the right path.
Till next time.
Love and light,