02.21.20

Inventor of ‘Cut, Copy & Paste’ Larry Tesler dies at age 74

BY Farah Khalfe 1 MINUTE READ

Your work day is a little easier because of him. You might not know his name but his revolutionary ideas have stuck around for decades – pardon the pun  – and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, no matter how much technology advances. 

The “cut, copy and paste” command was developed by pioneering US computer scientist Larry Tesler, who died on Monday at the age of 74. Tesler was a graduate of Stanford University and specialised in human-computer interactivity and user-interface design. He employed his skills at blue chip companies such as Xerox, Yahoo, and Apple – where he worked for 17 years and rose through the ranks to become their head scientist. 

During the genesis stage of computers in the 1960’s, Tesler worked to make them more intuitive and accessible. His cut and paste feature was in fact inspired by old-fashioned print-editing, where portions of printed text were physically cut out and affixed elsewhere with adhesive. 

The command was made popular by Apple when it was incorporated into the software of their Lisa computer in 1983 and then the original Macintosh that same year. In addition, Tesler introduced the concept of a “mouse”, where instead of typing a command into a keyboard to direct a computer, he just clicked on one of the icons on the screen with one swift movement – much to the excitement of Steve Jobs. He also pioneered the scroll bar on the Macintosh computer. 

Tesler “combined computer science training with a counterculture vision that computers should be for everyone”, Tweeted Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum on Monday. 

02.19.20

SA’s first mixed-income lifestyle and living complex redresses Apartheid spatial planning

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

In an effort to reverse apartheid spatial planning, the Western Cape government, in collaboration with Concor property developers, has launched an initiative that is “an incubator for growth and evolution.”

The project is South Africa’s first fully-integrated, mixed-income, mixed-use development located near Cape Town’s CBD. The development is a revolutionary 22ha community comprised of over 3500 homes – some subsidised or grant-funded, while the remainder have been made for sale on the open market for approximately R950 000, including transfer costs.

The project aims to provide affordable housing that is close to jobs, and is located near main arterial routes and railway stations. It also encompasses a long-term transport plan including road upgrades and potential new MyCity bus routes.

Phase one, comprising 99 units and called Kirstenbosch, has been launched with the public keen to be part of a “connected, multi-cultural community, marked by affordability, sustainability and security,” says founder of Realtor of Excellence, Toni Enderli. Occupation is set for early 2021 while phase two will launch soon.

Additionally, the complex will stimulate the growth of small businesses by providing over 10 000 m² and 14 500 m² of retail and commercial space respectively – with a goal of creating over 2000 jobs in the construction phase.

It will also cater to community needs by providing amenities suitable for a modern, urban lifestyle. This will include two schools, various crèches, a business hotel, an urban gym and extensive pet-friendly parks. Foot and cycling paths are also part of an integrated non-motorised transport plan while green technology has been applied to energy, water and waste management solutions.

We are essentially building a new, affordable, sustainable, self-contained town for the future characterised by integration, connection and inspiration. It’s a first, and the public is embracing the vision and its potential to help address the country’s housing challenges,” says Concor project leader, Mark Schonrock.

This model is exemplifying how state-owned land can be utilised in a productive and innovative way to boost economic growth in the country. 

01.20.20

Johannesburg Business School’s modes of learning are not just business as usual

BY Farah Khalfe 3 MINUTE READ

Founded in 2017, the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) at the University of Johannesburg was one of the last business schools established at a leading tertiary institution in South Africa. To date, it has cemented itself as one of the top academies in South Africa to pursue a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), pioneering a fresh and holistic approach to business. 

The school aims to disrupt the conventional business-school model and, instead, introduce modes of learning that are immersive, interactive, and practical, making their curriculum one that is future-fit and relevant in the age of Industry 4.0. JBS seeks to produce business administrators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders of the future who are equipped to deal with real-world scenarios. 

Lyal White, the senior founding director of JBS, emphasises two unique features that places the institution in a league of its own: “At JBS, we tailor our modules to be suitable for the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). We look at the future world of work and focus on ways to prepare South Africans and Africans for a business sector that is transformational and technologically enhanced”. Secondly, JBS’s curriculum has been specifically developed to look at Industry 4.0, and the accompanying breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), through a lens that is hypersensitive to the South African—and African—context. “We want to connect Africans, and delve into the myriad of rich knowledge and experience available to us on the continent,” he adds.

When pressed on exactly how JBS is disrupting traditional modes of learning, White explains how the institution seeks to “humanise” the realm of business. In their methods of teaching, the focus is shifted away from students merely being lectured to engagement and interaction with individuals, and the facilitation of constructive discussions and workshops. Educators also look at business from a holistic point of view, integrating the humanities and courses based on storytelling.

“We are here to teach you about business, but we are also here to learn about living. It’s important to remember that, before we are business people, we are humans—and we are in a social system where we need to interact and connect with people around us.”

To this end, JBS incorporates numerous key modules into their business-education pedagogy. One such module is on contemporary management, which takes a close look at contemporary issues in humans’ day-to-day lives, the prevailing social and political climate, and other newsworthy topics, and analyses how they impact small to medium enterprises (SMEs), for example. This teaches learners how to confront and manage uncontrollable external factors to their business. 

Then there is JBS’s innovative approach to design thinking. Although a common theme in most business schools, the institution has taken this one step further by looking at design in the natural world. “Biomimicry helps us do exactly that—mimic nature—to improve our efficiencies,” explains White. “How much has this actually been looked at in business? It helps us improve our efficiencies and changes the structures of business to suit a world that is no longer confined to just a nine-to-five office environment.

“This is exceptional to do in an African context because we are in the heart of a natural world that has never been understood and is not advanced further.” 

In addition, JBS encourages students to choose from a selection of international elective courses, based in Latin America or Asia, that brings to the fore the importance of cross-cultural experiences, diversity, and cultivating a global mindset. 

Ultimately, Johannesburg Business School is determined to cultivate a new crop of business-savvy individuals who are worldly, future-fit, and creative—and who will be creating new business models and employment opportunities that will propel a thriving African business landscape to new heights. 


Article originally published in Fast Company SA’s December 2019/January 2020 issue. Grab your copy to read more. 

12.20.19

The most innovative and sustainable sneakers to look forward to in 2020

BY Farah Khalfe 6 MINUTE READ

As sustainability in fashion becomes the new black, and streetwear influence continues to dominate both the mass consumer market and high-end designer brands, it was only a matter of time before we saw these two forces collide.

While the likes of adidas and Nike have long been striving to add a more ethically-conscious approach to their products – and use the most cutting-edge innovation to do so – more brands are starting to follow suit. In the game of sustainable sneakers, 2020 has a lot to offer. These are some of the most environmentally-savvy and innovative sneakers to look forward to in the new decade: 

1. Reebok Forever Floatride GROW

Following the release of Reebok’s Cotton + Corn shoe launched earlier this year – a tennis-style sneaker constructed of 100% organic cotton, industrial corn and castor bean oil, amongst other natural materials – the brand is continuing their pursuit of “creating products from things that grow.”  

The brand announced their upcoming Forever Floatride GROW, a vegan performance running shoe made from plant-based materials including eucalyptus tree, castor bean and algae. The shoe is an adaptation of their Forever Floatride Energy sneaker, replacing traditional materials and oil-based plastics with natural alternatives.

Three years’ in the making, the biggest challenge in developing the shoe was maintaining the high-performance running shoe standards without the use of synthetic materials. But the shoe manages to do just that, with a castor bean midsole, eucalyptus tree-based upper and natural rubber outsole. It also sports lightweight cushioning and a flexible sole that mimics the natural curve of the foot.

Much like its Cotton + Corn counterpart, Forever Floatride GROW is rendered in a neutral colour palette, with beige laces and stripes down the side, mustard brown detail and off-white upper.

2. Yeezy Foam Runner

While not much is certain about the Kanye West’s impending Yeezy Foam Runner – even the design and colour might change – the shoe is made almost entirely from algae foam, and is set to release early next year.

After its unveiling at the US’s Fast Company Innovation Festival in November, the shoes were the subject of mixed reviews on social media from critics who were unamused by the croc-like design and bland khaki colour way. However, Kanye revealed the company is looking into employing more eco-friendly dyes as an alternative to the traditional chemically-infused pigments that are harmful to the environment.

In fact, the Foam Runners are Yeezy’s s first step towards becoming an entirely sustainable and ethical fashion brand, going “from seed to sew” in the production of their apparel. Kanye announced the brand will move its headquarters to a nearly 2000-hectare rural estate where they are developing their own hydroponics farm to grow cotton and other manufacturing materials.

The FOAM Runners are a blend of petroleum-based ethylene-vinyl acetate and foam made from harvested algae. In this way, the company is able to help clean waterways, protect wildlife and drinking water, and avoid the use of fossil fuels generally used in making foam.

3. adidas ClimaCool  

adidas’ state-of-the-art ClimaCool technology is making a return in the new year with a brand new multi-coloured silhouette. The shoe is a mix of blue, green, pink and orange hues and is constructed in a mesh upper with white shell overlays. Another defining feature is the sneaker’s Boost midsole (thousands of expanded particles meshed together to deliver a backlash of energy from the force of every stride), making it suitable for running. Together with ClimaCool, this is definitely one of 2020’s most innovative upcoming sneakers so far.

Another adidas first, ClimaCool provides all-round ventilation and moisture control. The specialised material is designed to wick away moisture, adjust to the wearer’s body temperature and promotes breathability. Using thermal imaging of an active tennis player, Adidas engineers were able to identify the precise locations where athletes sweat the most. In every ClimaCool product, mesh sweat pouches are placed in these locations to help facilitate the movement of sweat away from the body and into the garment. The shoe will be available early next year.

In 2015, adidas embarked on a long-term partnership with environmental group Parley for the Oceans in an effort to eliminate plastic from its supply chain and help tackle ocean pollution.

The way it works is simple: The initiative removes plastic, debris and trash from the oceans and coastal communities, which then gets recycled to produce part of the shoe. This also eliminates the use of new plastic that will eventually end up as garbage elsewhere in the environment. The duo released numerous renditions of their ULTRA Boost Parley running shoe and have since began expanding it to other collections too. Their latest Parley adaptation is the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker. This lightweight shoe features a Primeknit upper spun from Parley’s recycled ocean plastic and a midsole made from Ultra Boost technology, providing high energy returns, freedom of movement and long-distance comfort – adding a greener element to one of the brand’s best performing hiking shoes. The shoe will be available in February 2020.

4. adidas Terrex Free Hiker Parley


In 2015, adidas embarked on a long-term partnership with environmental group Parley for the Oceans in an effort to eliminate plastic from its supply chain and help tackle ocean pollution.

The way it works is simple: The initiative removes plastic, debris and trash from the oceans and coastal communities, which then gets recycled to produce part of the shoe. This also eliminates the use of new plastic that will eventually end up as garbage elsewhere in the environment. The duo released numerous renditions of their ULTRA Boost Parley running shoe and have since began expanding it to other collections too. Their latest Parley adaptation is the Adidas Terrex Free Hiker. This lightweight shoe features a Primeknit upper spun from Parley’s recycled ocean plastic and a midsole made from Ultra Boost technology, providing high energy returns, freedom of movement and long-distance comfort – adding a greener element to one of the brand’s best performing hiking shoes. The shoe will be available in February 2020.

5. Puma Fit Intelligence [Fi]

Innovation is not only driving sustainability in sneakers but has made way for brands to explore new frontiers of fashion and tech. Enter Puma’s self-lacing Fit Intelligence [Fi] sneaker. Dubbed the “the next level of smart footwear” – although not first self-lacing sneaker to be produced – the shoes were designed for workouts and light-running and, according to reviews, are more practical than Nike’s Adapt BB’s, for example. The Fi features a micro-motor on the tongue that tightens the laces and adapts to the shape of the wearers foot, as well as blue LED lights that light up when the motor is operating or when it is charging. To adjust the laces, simply swipe on the motor or pair with a smart watch to control the motor without stopping in your tracks. The shoes also come with their own ‘docking station’ so you can charge them up with ease.

When it comes aesthetic, the all-black design is adorned with electric blue durable fishing strings, a removal battery stored in a water-resistant compartment in the midsole and minimalist mesh design. Although the shoes won’t be available until September next year, Puma has launched an open beta programme, where consumers can test the sneakers in exchange for ideas and feedback to streamline and upgrade their design in future.


11.05.19

Siya Kolisi x Freedom of Movement shoe collab gives traditional South African ‘veldskoene’ a brand new look

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

The traditional South African “vellie” shoe has been reinvigorated with a brand new look—and sense of purpose. Captain of the Springboks and Stormers rugby teams Siya Kolisi has collaborated with proudly South African lifestyle brand Freedom of Movement for a unique interpretation of our country’s much-loved veldskoene.

Handcrafted in Cape Town and manufactured with the highest-quality local raw materials—premium nubuck leather and soft, breathable calf skin—each pair that is sold will contribute to the development of Mbekweni Youth Centre in the Western Cape. The centre equips the next generation with a range of vital life skills through programmes such as academic advancement, sport, career guidance and economic development. The initiative provides youth in the surrounding communities with a safe space to nurture their talents and uplift themselves through physical activity.

Growing up in a township in Port Elizabeth, Kolisi holds youth upliftment and societal development at the heart of his passions and was therefore eager to get involved in the cause. “I want to do everything I can to explore and hone their talents because I’ve been there, I’ve played these fields, I’ve walked these streets,” he says.

And while the shoe contributes to society, its design includes elements that hold greater, meaningful significance to South African heritage. The custom shade of green “represents the fertile land… it represents the Boks (led by Siya) and it represents the field we’re going to build,” says Roal Bozaart, co-founder of Freedom of Movement. 

Each shoe features tonal top stitching, a durable sole and includes two sets of laces in green and beige. Kolisi’s signature is embossed within the interior of the shoe and symbolises the intimate sense of involvement and care he has channeled into this project. 

Available from freedomofmovement.co.za.


10.28.19

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

When the Samsung Galaxy S5e Tablet first landed on my desk for review, my initial impression was that it lived up to (the first part) of its tag line – it is indeed lighter than a cup of coffee – but if it was ‘equally as refreshing’ was something I needed to investigate. I spent the weekend using the device, fiddling with all its settings and features, to get a comprehensive idea of what that tab has to offer, and be able to provide an accurate and well-informed review of for you all.

Firstly, let’s talk about the design. At, just 5.5mm in thickness and weighing only 400 grams, the S5e has the thinnest and lightest metal unibody of any Galaxy Tab. Of course, this makes it sleek, portable and able to easily fit into almost any sized handbag or carry-on.

The tablet boasts a 10.5-inch touchscreen display – a happy medium between not being too bulky but still enabling users to watch video content and work on documents comfortably. With a resolution of 1600×2560 and AMOLED display (meaning the blacks are completely black and the whites are completely white), the colours are vibrant and intense. The device’s 16×10 cm ratio also allows for more content to fit on the screen during video playback. Additionally, the tablet allows you to connect from USB type C to HTMI, allowing movies and videos to projected onto a big screen.

However, being a tablet, this clarity does not translate to its camera. There’s a 13 mp front camera along with an 8mp selfie cam, meaning the device is not able to capture the most Instagram-worthy pics – at best you might be able to get some decent images if the lighting is good – but it works well for video calls, which is what tablets are most commonly used for.

Another stand-out feature is the sound. The tablet has four stereo speakers tuned by AKG Acoustics which is a world-class sound engineering and manufacturing company. The audio playback is loud, crisp and clear. However, due to the tablet’s slim design, it does not feature a headphone jack (to combat this, an adapter is provided in the box, allowing you to plug in your wired headphones).

I’m not into gaming but this is another drawcard of the S5e. With a 670 chipset and 4 GB of RAM, the tablet supports video games such as Fortnite and the fast-paced Team Deathmatch. Although Fortnite will have to be played at 30 fps and not 60, the game is still fully playable and runs smoothly as long you have a good WiFi connection.

Overall, the user experience of the Galaxy s5e tablet is smooth and efficient. The tablet’s touch responsiveness is fast and spot on, and with the device’s Samsung DeX feature, the tablet’s interface transforms into a desktop experience whenever a mouse or keybard plugs in. This is a feature I found particularly useful as I am constantly typing up documents and browsing the web.

The verdict? Samsung’s Galaxy s5e is indeed equally as refreshing as a much-needed cup of coffee. For it’s a size and price point, the tablet packs incredible value for money. Suitable for both and play – it strikes a balance between a multimedia beast and essential productivity tool. Its three essential feature – great video and audio, bright and colourful display, and its impressively lightweight design put it a cut above other tablets it its class category.

 

 

10.09.19

4 apps to kick your productivity into high gear

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

Headspace: Guided Meditation
It’s impossible to be productive without adequate rest and relaxation. Headspace provides a range of professionally produced guided meditations and calming techniques for every situation. After a free basic course, you gain access to the full Headspace meditation library, including on-the-go exercises, meditations for sleep, anxiety, relationship woes, SOS scenarios and much more. Add friends to make your sessions interactive and fun while staying motivated with the app’s helpful tips and tricks to get the most out of every meditation. 

MealBoard
This all-in-one app streamlines the process of your daily meal prep and grocery shopping tasks. MealBoard’s smart-shopping functionality allows you to generate a shopping list based on the meal plan you’ve created and keep track of how much you’re spending while you shop. In addition, it automatically aggregates the items on your list and organises them by aisle so you can dash in and out of the store as quickly as possible. When it comes to your meal plans, this nifty app allows you to create reusable meal templates, mark meals as leftovers, set up recipe notifications ahead of time and much more. You can even keep tabs on your pantry inventory – what’s in and out of stock, the expiration date of each item and search for recipes with ingredients that will expire soon.

Sortd
Being constantly inundated with emails can leave you feeling overwhelmed as you trudge through a mountain of meetings to confirm, deals to approve and admin to tackle – taking up valuable working hours in the process. Sortd app for iOS and Android brings all your emails, tasks and priorities together into one consolidated workspace, right inside your Gmail. This task and email manager transforms your inbox with clean and customisable lists, a drag-and-drop function as well as email tracking, so you can keep an eye on important conversations. By merging your emails onto your Action Plan, you can manage all your tasks cohesively and tick things off a seemingly never-ending to-do list in the most efficient and productive way.

Strides
They say it takes 40 days to create a new habit, but sometimes we need a little help along the way. The Strides habit tracker and goal-setting app helps you reach your full potential and stay motivated when implementing a SMART goal or new habit into your daily routine – or removing a negative one from your life completely. Get organised with step-by-step goal-setting templates, a colour-coded system that ensures you stay on track and history charts that display your streaks, success rates and more. With powerful daily and weekly affirmations, unlimited reminders and a personal note-taking function to give your logs more context, Strides is the ultimate tool to help you on your path to success.


09.04.19

Apps to help you live a greener lifestyle

BY Farah Khalfe 3 MINUTE READ

GoGreen: Carbon Tracker
It’s all good and well trying to ‘guesstimate’ your carbon footprint, but without knowing where it stems from, you won’t know how to reduce it. Enter GoGreen: Carbon Tracker. This nifty app accurately monitors your carbon footprint by analysing data from your household utility bills. The app is able to track your monthly consumption of electricity, water and natural gas, measure your driving emissions and identify trends in your usage patterns. It also compares your consumption to those around you and awards and deducts ‘energy points’ depending on your carbon dioxide emissions – providing incentive for users to be more environmentally friendly in their daily activities and lifestyle decisions.

SunStream Pro Solar Panel and Power Bank combo
Not only is this solar-charged power bank convenient for staying connected in remote locations, but it’s good for the environment too. The device charges to one full amp by being left in the sun and is suitable for high-demand tech such as tablets, smartphones and GPS devices. Portable, waterproof and shatter-proof, the SunStream Pro Solar Panel and Power Bank combo ensures you will have a fully charged phone in less than two hours. With its lightweight design and built-in LED torch, it’s easy to carry around.

GoodGuide
Ethical shopping just got a whole lot easier with the GoodGuide app. By scanning a product’s barcode, the app reveals scientific data and research regarding the item’s ‘green’ credentials and provides a rating from 0-10. The higher the rating, the better the product from a health perspective. You can find out the nutritional value of your favourite food products or the potential health hazards and chemical ingredients in the personal-care and household items you swear by. GoodGuide will provide greener alternatives for your daily purchases and, if you want to get clued up before heading to the store, you can search for and browse a range of brands and companies to help you make informed consumer purchasing decisions.

DropDrop
South Africa’s water scarcity woes are still ongoing and can only be reduced through the co-operation and commitment of all citizens to be mindful of their water consumption. During the height of the crisis, students of the University of Cape Town developed DropDrop, an app that helps users track their daily water usage, predict monthly bills, and learn new methods for conserving water. DropDrop reads your municipality’s external water meter and provides information that will aid you in optimising your water usage.

Kill A Watt 
Keep tabs on how much electricity your appliances are using with the Kill A Watt digital watt meter. Simply plug the device into a wall socket and plug any appliance (up to 2 000W) into the watt meter to gage the current voltage, accumulated electricity (total kW hours) and current electricity consumption (watts being used) of the appliance you want to assess. Advanced functions on the meter can also calculate the electricity cost of using an appliance while the device’s display mode indicates various factors such as time/price or time/voltage and minimum and the maximum power consumed.


08.30.19

This innovative brand of sneaker-care products is melding street culture with environmental sustainability

BY Farah Khalfe 4 MINUTE READ

Sneaker LAB is permeating global sneaker culture not only through their innovative products, but with an ethos of youth upliftment and sustainable community development. 

Founder Jo Farah shared some insight on the societal impact of entrepreneurship and the integral role it plays in solving the world’s most pertinent economic issues. It’s safe to say that Jo is one of the most respected sneaker heads and businessmen in the game, mainly because of his vision of coupling style with sustainability. An ode to this, Sneaker LAB has created a premium shoe care product range that has exchanged harsh chemicals for pro-bacterial biotechnology — benefiting the environment in the long run. Fast Company SA sat down for an exclusive interview with Jo about his vision and business growth. 

What sparked your interest for sneakers and streetwear culture? 
Since I can remember, I’ve always had an interest in clothing and fashion. Throughout my childhood, I was exposed to art and music which developed my understanding and appreciation of aesthetics. Old school hip-hop, the Beasty Boys, NWA and A Tribe Called Quest heavily influenced me as a creative. 

How did you develop the concept of Sneaker LAB and what was your motivation for turning this vision into a reality? 
In 2008, I went into business with two friends who owned a streetwear store in Cape Town. We established a guerrilla marketing agency, working predominantly with well-known sneaker brands and retailers. I noticed there was a gap in the market for a high-end sneaker care brand and I had made numerous contacts through working in the industry. I took my time in developing the brand, product and aesthetics of it before market testing. The initial test-run in stores was so successful that the product sold out in two days. We now have stores in Johannesburg and downtown Los Angeles. 

Innovation lies at the heart of Sneaker LAB’s products and services. How do you believe  YOUR sneaker care products embody this? 
Innovation is extremely important — it is our greatest differentiator from competitor brands. When I started Sneaker LAB, I wanted it to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, but with better results than anything currently available on the market. I spent a great deal of time researching biodegradable cleaning solutions. This resulted in our unique sneaker care and protection formulas which utilise bacteria and enzymes to hyper-escalate nature’s organic cleaning process. The biotechnology functions at a molecular level and continues to work long after application. The products are water-based and the packaging is suitable for recycling. 

How important is innovation when it comes to the success of any business?
Innovation is essential. If you’re not abreast of what’s going on in the world, how will you stay ahead of the competition? If a company is not thinking differently, it will become stale and the consumer will lose interest. Innovation is not just limited to your product, it needs to be practised throughout your business — from the way you approach marketing to the way you speak to consumers.

In six years, you’ve built a brand with a Global presence. What were your key business components for achieving this?
I believe in planning properly and surrounding yourself with people who are exceptional at what they do. As an entrepreneur, you can’t be the best in every facet of the business. It’s crucial to have key people that will ensure business growth. I also believe in rewarding my team for their hard work and ensuring they enjoy their jobs. If your whole team is enthused and energised towards a common goal, you’ll have an accelerated rate of achieving it. Giving back is also a key component. Helping others to succeed plays a role in your own success. We work with aspiring artists and underprivileged youth. People want to belong to something more than just a brand, that’s why we constantly strive to be socially-conscious.

How important is community upliftment and youth development for Sneaker LAB? 
It’s imperative for us. As soon as the business was financially viable, we started donating a portion of all sales to gold Youth Development Agency — a South African organisation committed to developing young African leaders. We’ve been supporting the organisation for three and a half years. They work closely with youngsters in the poorest communities in Southern Africa, with the end goal of helping them obtain a university education. The young leaders are trained to have an influence in their communities through peer education, despite obstacles such as poverty, apathy, inadequate education, unemployment, orphanhood, gender inequality and HIV. One of the their graduates is currently employed at Sneaker LAB.

What’s on the horizon for you?
I’ve always envisioned taking the brand to a global level. Things have accelerated rapidly since 2013 and we’re currently represented in 60 countries. Our plans are to open more retail spaces where our brand offers an immersive experience. We have recently expanded beyond shoes into products for hat and denim care. Our aim is to be the number one shoe care brand in the world. 


08.26.19

Future spa treatments may include virtual island getaways at the click of a button

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

A getaway to an exotic location is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. However, booking a vacation every time a stressful moments presents itself would break the bank. One of the many upsides of living in the digital age is the fact that innovation is the norm. That’s where The Wend Virtual Relaxation experience comes in – a concept that marries spa days and travel with the click of a button. 

THE CONCEPT
Founded by mom-of-three Melloney Rijnvis, this invention enhances a spa visit with realistic audio and immersive visuals. The idea came about because of Melloney’s own ineffective spa ex-perience. “During a visit to a spa for a much-needed relaxation treatment, I found myself staring at floor tiles,”  she explains. “Due to the lack of visual stimulation, my mind was soon racing with my ‘to-do’ list, stresses and every-thing negative I could think about.” An impulsive chat with her husband and 10 short months later, The Wend became a reality. “With a one-of-a-kind app boasting new technology, a professional 180/360° video pro-duction studio, a comfortable office and strong team, I couldn’t be prouder of how far we have come in such a short time.”

HOW IT WORKS
The Wend functions through a virtual reality headset, like the Oculus Rift, which interacts with a tablet. Operated by a therapist, guests can choose from a selection of virtual relaxation videos to complement their treatment, then simply put the headphones on to enjoy the experience. The spa offers a range of videos available to their clients yet the library is ever-growing. 

VIRTUAL GETAWAY 
Guests are transported to destinations including Cape Town, London and Mallorca — going as far as to the North-ern Lights and even swimming with dolphins. Users can personalise their sessions with specific relaxation settings such as waterfalls and beaches. According to Melloney, The Wend is not designed to compete with trad-itional spa experiences but rather to enhance it. “There is no substitute for human touch and interaction is crucial to the success of the spa industry. Knowing this, we have developed The Wend experience accordingly.”

EMBRACING THE DIGITAL AGE 
The Wend was designed to com-plement the fast-paced, tech-heavy lifestyles of Millennials and Gen-eration Z. “Life is far more stressful for the Millennials and GenZ than it ever was for the previous generation,” she reflects. “They are not fearful of tech-nology. Instead, they embrace it and see technology as a necessity. They are attracted to the latest trends and quick fixes, which makes the possi-bility of a quick escape during their lunch break a truly ingenious creation.”

BENEFITS
The tangible benefits of deep virtual relaxation sessions? Better sleeping patterns, increased mental health, improved concentration levels and effective de-stressing techniques. It also helps people navigate through tough life situations. 

WAY FORWARD
Based on intensive research, the team at The Wend identified South Africans as being a “spa-loving nation”. The technology has already had a success-ful trial period at Camelot Spa, and the Armani Spa and Sorbet Group are prospective clients too. The Wend is also looking to have a presence at smaller, independently-owned spas. On the next steps, Melloney says: “We would love to introduce The Wend to places where it can have a healing effect. We have identified oncology and rehabilitation centres as our next target market.”