“It is easy to become emotional but that should not stop you from doing what you want”, Alexandra Geldenhuys.
What is your job about?
Our higher goal is to connect communities around the world through the trading of cargo by sailing ship. Until we have our own ship we currently work closely with a Dutch, engine-less sailing cargo vessel called the Tres Hombres to import products into the UK. At the moment our business is quite small, selling just 450 bottles of our own label rum, and this year importing coffee and cocoa beans too. We tell our story through our products and the events we organise around the ship’s arrival in the UK. By engaging the public in as many creative ways as possible we hope to build a community around sail-shipped cargo so that we can raise the funds and find the crew to build and sail our own ship. This new industry is small but gaining momentum with similar projects popping up around the world.
What issues do you address?
- We focus on issues around food production and consumption as well as trade.
- Food trade is our central issue but we are creating a community around shipping as well involving all age groups and a lifestyle that supports shipping.
- All our packaging is eco-friendly and we are really trying to make the whole process of the supply chain good for the people as well as the planet.
What moved you to take action?
I always had a dream since I was young to live by the sea and strangely I studied fashion design. Studying fashion was a really good insight about how consumer culture works. After leaving my university I wanted to do something completely new. So I ended up looking up and availing an opportunity to work as a volunteer on a cocoa plantation in Brazil. It was there that I had the incredible experience of living directly with the land. It was really educational experience realizing that we don’t need 90% of the stuff we have to lead a good life. And I ended up going back there for 3 years and the dream was to sail the cocoa beans from our land to Europe. That inspired me to start running a business so that one day I have a boat to go back there and get those cocoa beans.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
There have been constant obstacles and they keep on coming. The biggest obstacle is my own courage because there are times when other people’s negativities can really make me question why I am doing all this. However I take their negativity and try and rationalize it through and then eventually I still think that my idea is great.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
I think it is important to do things that you love because when things get hard then memories of those times really carry you through.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
Ever since I was a young kid because I grew up in South Africa I have always been fascinated by animals. The extinction of species is something I became aware of very young and I cannot believe that my children will not be able to see a quarter of what I have been able to in my life. So that was a big motivation and also the enjoyment of being outside. You can’t love something you don’t know.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
There are hard times where I get frustrated with everything but at the end of the day, there is nothing that I’d rather be doing and I am glad to be doing something that I love.