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SBW Travels. 

How Decorating Lodges Became a Brand Called Styled By Wild

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

I haven’t always loved the bush as much as I do now, growing up as I was lucky enough to have it in my backyard and explore it often. Endless hours in the back of the Combi travelling up to Zim, or scouting for a whiff of a Big 5 whilst fighting with my brother, the novelty of the bush definitely had a time limit for a kid.

But then I met my Husband and the novelty returned, into full blown passion.

We started to explore the bush more, bird watching turned into a new challenge and planning holidays started to mostly involve the African wild. His passion, turned into mine and I could not get enough. Our very first trip was to the Pafuri Walking trails (Kruger North), it totally blew my mind and somewhere in the infamous Fever Tree Forest I fell in love, with my husband and with the bush. (But that is another post..)

In September 2018 the reality of turning passion into dollar bills arose, I got offered to fly to Botswana to decorate a lodge in the Okavango Delta, redoing all their softs. A country, until that year (Our "Overlanding Botswana" Story TBC...), I hadn't even given a moments thought too, suddenly became another notch on my geographical belt.

That year I had decided to go back into designing textiles and good friends of mine who were now managing that lodge said that this new lodge needed some serious textile TLC. At that time I was only doing a few textiles for retail and some hospitality clients, nothing major and as a side-hustle it was serving me well, well...

I will never forget my first time flying into a private concession by small ass airplane, it was quite a feeling of gratitude and awe to know that a top percent of individuals (mostly tourists) get to do this as a holiday, and I was doing this for work!

Fast forward to arriving at the lodge I received a super awesome welcome by my friend family and as the week flew by, illustrating, dodging elephants on route to my room and dips in the pool to keep sane in the 40 deg heat, I realized that this textile business needed to become a full time thing. And fast. I craved this environment and needed to fill my life up with safari.

Back home I started designing up a storm, illustrating textiles that were personal to the lodge, planning colours and testing prints. As it was still my side-hustle though, "real work" had to be attended to so I began to wrap up my PR role for NBC Universal just in time for the call that change my career direction for good.

20th December 2018, I had just gotten off a plane in Durban to visit the family for Christmas and my phone rang. +26... Botswana.... The owner of the lodge offered me the contract to decorated the whole lodge.

Holy Shit.

KLoveyouByeeeeee, Agency world.

Hello 2019, the Year of The Decorator.

I had 3 months to source, plan and deliver (and in between get married), having only considered my decorating role as a small enterprise, I was now having to go big, it was baptism by fire and I loved it.

I soon discovered that setting up a decorating business is 60% Admin 30% Decorating 10% Problem-Solving... And in no particular order, these points below are just a few of the things I had to accomplish in a month:

  • Re-name my company // My textile business needed a new name, something bold and versatile to allow me to grow my passion. Styled By Wild was born.

  • List myself with retailers // not only for stock purposes but the biggest way decorators make money - that 10% discount can help a lot! (Also, networking!)

  • Finding a transport company that would take my goods to Botswana // luckily the lodge came with one. (TG).

  • Arrange delivery of goods to the transport company in time for when the truck leaves // when you're ordering goods 6-8 weeks in advance you just hope that they're on-time. (There were bloody close calls here, but again, the universe came through!)

  • Figure out what size truck you need // this one was tough, as playing dimensional Tetris between needing a 6m container and a 12m is a big cost difference.

  • Fitting items that can't be delivered in your car that is way to small, but you make it work! (I got a bigger car after this experience).

  • Flying to Botswana and then waiting patiently on the other end for the stock to roll into the lodge. // Hoping and praying that there weren't any damages. (there always are, Botswana roads are brutal.)

Then after all this, after months of planning and stressing and sourcing and budget changes, and life...

I unpacked the truck (with helpers of course) and got to work putting the furniture into place...

If there is one thing that has come out of this experience, it's that you think you know your limits, then you find a passion and your limits are pushed further and further.

(Such as decorating a lodge in 37 - 40 degree heat. )

There is also an indescribable feeling of finding a "job" that brings joy, and seeing your personal hard work, pay off, that vision that was just created on paper, set out in front of you in real life.

Styled By Wild may have started out as a textile hobby, grown into a decorating company and finding it's feet as a luxury Safari brand, but it's showed me my path and that my creative journey doesn't stop with putting a brand in a box, it's an evolution of creativity and entrepreneurship. But most of all a love for the bush that can't be tamed.

If there is one thing that you should know about me:

If there's style, textiles and the bush at the core, that's where I am the happiest.

Bring on 2020, bring on more experiences of Safari luxury, gear, style and interiors and watch this brand grow into big things!

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