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Turning a hobby/interest into a business

My wife and I are privileged to stay quite close to a magnificent beach. On Saturday, we were joined by our daughter and son in law in walking down to the beach.

Imagine our delight to see the astonishing sand creations on the pristine beach! (See the attached photo’s)

Here is an article on this amazing artist in the Independent on Line (May 2016)

What began as a passion for making figurines from clay in a village in the Transkei, has matured into the creation of life-size sand sculptures on the beach at Big Bay.

Michael Myekwa and his helping hand, Bonga Matanzima, have become familiar faces in Big Bay and have drawn the attention of many onlookers awestruck by his sand creations, which include the Big Five, realistic-looking beach bathers and a horse rising from the sand.

Michael can just about anything with sand, if he has the right weather. The waves are brutal critics, though, and leave him only a brief window within which to conjure up his next masterpiece. “The tide is coming in,” he says, his voice underscored with urgency as he surveys the sand, seeing so much more than just an empty beach.

Getting to work, he steps into the sand hollow created by Bonga. Using a sculpting tool fashioned from a KFC spoon, Michael starts carving detail into the rhino base he has already created.

Although he had just begun, many onlookers had already stopped to talk to Michael, asking him whether he does special requests. He does: one of his fans proudly displays pictures of his bulldog, which Michael sculpted with sand.

“I learned how to do this sculpting in the Transkei where I grew up. There, we had red and yellow clay, and I used it to make cow figures. I would put them in front of the fire so they would harden and then we would play fight with them,” laughs Michael. His skill grew when he went to Durban and picked up some of the techniques used by the sand artists there. They use “black sand” to enhance their sculptures.

“In KZN, I met guys and I showed them how I make it my way. They use black sand and it gives the sculpture a nice shine. Over here, the sand is white, but it’s firm. It normally takes me three to four hours to complete a sculpture.”  “When I do something, I feel it. I would love to get a job only doing this. Maybe if I had a studio or if parents brought their kids, I could teach them how to do this. It’s a tourist attraction,” said Michael admiring his own work.

Here are 3 thoughts on taking a hobby/interest and making a business from it.

Firstly, Michael is highly talented and passionate about his art. Anyone wanting to transition their hobby/interest into a business needs to have something about their work that gives them a great edge. In business, it is called a unique selling proposition or USP. What makes your idea/product or service unique; different and desirable?

Secondly, Michael is essentially selling an experience. Consider that no one walks away with a physical product, but rather a memory and experience enhanced by different photos. As long as someone who is willing to pay money for your “product”, you are adding value. This opens the way for people who can add value to their target audience. (Think about buskers; entertainers and the like). Consider reading a classic book, called “The $100 Startup” Chris Guillebeau

Finally, think about the challenges Michael faces in getting his product out to the audience. From weather, waves and lack of people, too legal challenges; distance and the knowledge that in a few hours, it all reduces to sand. In all of these, he has adjusted and made a plan. In pursuing your dream, there will be challenges. In fact, nothing worth pursuing ever comes without some sacrifice. Perhaps your hobby/interest will not be as challenging in getting to your target audience; but are you prepared to show the same commitment that Michael does and did?

My son is picked up a camera for the first time 12 years ago, and what began as a hobby and interest has led to him becoming an international travel photographer. (For those interested, you can visit his website at www.nomadicvision.com )

Who knows how far your interest, your hobby ……can take you!

Seeing the future with new eyes of opportunity.

IMG_3251Michael MyekwaIMG_3262IMG_3261

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