Inspired by folly, raw emotion, expansion, blowy romances, typewriter writing, fantasy world dwelling, fun fair happy living – as she puts it on her website – Lelanie Slater delved into the world of stationery, with its myriad of opportunities and dubbed it Ampersand Social Stationery. “Ampersand is a logogram for the conjunction word ‘and’ (&). I chose this as the name for my store because of my firm belief in creativity as an infinite resource, that is best savoured in partnership and that definitely grows stronger, wilder and happier when shared. Ampersand Social Stationery is all about inspired living, creative collaboration and more to life,” Lelanie says.
“My products are unique, quirky, fun and still functional. My hope is that the products and courses I teach will inspire & facilitate many creative break-throughs, enlightened moments, fabulous collabs and a general sense of happy, creative living for my customers,” she adds.
Ampersand’s course, titled The Artists Way, Creative Recovery Course, is a 12-week programme that “takes you on a journey of self-discovery and helps you to blast through creative blocks, in order to fulfill your potential, reach new heights and live a happier, more fulfilled life.
The course combines inspiring essays with playful and imaginative exercises to make The Artist’s Way an extraordinary book of learning-through-doing. This course will leade you to authentic growth, renewal and healing.
Students meet at the Linden studio, in Johannesburg, for two hours each week to share creative experiences.
YOU CAN WIN! Simply tweet: My New Year will be made with a R200 stationery voucher from @ampersand_ss and @waitingformeg http://waitingformeg.blogspot.com/2015/01/ampersand-social-stationery-feature.html
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1. How did you start and how long have you been doing this?
I am a total stationery addict. I have been whiling away great chunks of my life with doodling, journaling, book-art, collaging and other stationery fueled stints for as long as I can remember. I have always had a desperate longing to live a creative life. Yet it can be daunting to find productive creative work that still pays the bills. A few years ago I participated in The Artist’s Way creative recovery course. My teacher helped me on my way to creative recovery and now, five years later I have finally made my dream a reality with the opening of this store. The online store launched 1st July 2014 and there is talk of opening a brick and mortar store in the New Year. I was so impressed by the course and felt it had to be shared, so I started teaching my own courses an have been doing this for the last 3 years.
2. What sort of products do you make?
My products are not hand made by me, they are sourced from all over the world. I went on a sourcing trip to Hong Kong earlier this year and met with amazing suppliers from all over the world at the International Stationery fair there. My products come from London, the States, the Virgin Islands and Hong Kong to name only a few places. The products are all stationery and office related. The aim is to provide practical everyday necessities with a twist. My dream is for these to inspire the users.
3. Where do you find inspiration for your products?
I find my inspiration everywhere. But mostly within; I always try to listen to my heart. I try to steer clear of popular trends and try not to get to caught up in social media. The whole aim is for the products to be unique, fresh and inspirational. When I start sourcing I generally don’t go with a specific theme in mind. I start by looking for products that I think I want to stock. As I go through the process, I am inevitably drawn to certain colours and looks. For example, the 2015 range has mostly pastel colours with strong floral and geometric details.
I have just embarked in a collaboration with a South-African stationer who is helping me create a bespoke Ampersand stationery range. I can’t wait to see where the process will lead.
4. What are some of the challenges of being your own boss?
There are many challenges to working for yourself.
You need to be very disciplined, to make sure you don’t get distracted.
Finances and bookkeeping are always tough, if you are not trained for it. I get the professionals in to help.
5. How do you perceive the South African creatives/design landscape?
I think South-Africa has amazing creative minds. It might be our rich, natural wealth that inspires our creations. I am happy to see that we have started to move away from the very ‘traditional’ African patters and designs in the last few years and that creative are really pushing themselves to break through creative stereotypes of African design to come up with unique, challenging and engaging ideas.
I recently exhibited at Tierlantynkies, and I was so proud to be part of such a creative group. I was blown away by the unique ideas and the wealth of creative knowledge.