Shara Mordt, founder of Fabric Bank, descent of a Norwaigan/Zimbabwean father and a South African mother, now lives in South Africa. She is a passionate pattern/interior designer, and has turned her career into a successful global pattern curating and print studio. Not only an inspirational female entrepreneur, Shara is also an amazing purpose-driven leader who leads with passion, compassion and understanding.
How do I pronounce your surname?
It is actually pronounced as Mordt, with a silent D. My dad's side of the family are all from Norway, so it's a Norwegian surname.
How many cultures surround you in your family?
South Africa is a mixture of all cultures and race, it's like a melting pot of everything. On my dad's side of the family, they are originally from Norway; my mum's side are a bit of a mixture - her mum was from Germany and her dad was from England. They all came to South Africa and have stayed ever since. I would say I am a true South African as I have lived here all my life. I have been to Norway. It's beautiful there but the cold weather is not for me.
I heard that you are a people and purpose driven leader, tell me more about it.
I think trust and relationships are key to a business’s success. I now have partners and employees that I trust and enjoy working with. It took a long time to get my brand noticed but I don't see the point of rushing. I understand it takes time to build sustainable long term business partnerships and relationships. I am grateful to have such awesome staff and partners which are always willing to assist and go the extra mile .
Your business gives you the reason to travel around the world, do you enjoy it?
For me the dream would be having 2 offices/bases. One in South Africa and the other in Europe where I can travel between the two.I really love being in South Africa but I also love the European lifestyle. South Africa has its pros and cons but there are so many opportunities here. So I will be staying here for now. Perhaps the move to London will be in the near future :)
Do you think Covid has any impact on your life and the people around you and has changed the way you want to live your life?
Definitely, I feel like work became my life, where there was no balance, all work, no time to do other things. I was getting to a point of burning out.
When our president mentioned we had a lockdown and we weren't allowed to leave the house or even walk outside. It was quite a relief to just slow down and not stress about work work work all day long. We were in Lockdown for two months and honestly it was a great time to relax and reassess things.
Before lockdown I would beat myself up if I didn't complete my to do list for the day, even compromising my sleep time. Now I realise that health is more important and having balance is the most vital thing - life is not about spending all the time at work and we should be sharing moments with friends and family, and spending time on ourselves.
You mentioned that Covid-19 had an impact on your plans, but I can see you are really composed. How do you cultivate the serene mindset?
If you are passionate about something, you will make it work. Maybe I am a bit of a brat and I really don't like working for other people, so I have been very adamant that I would work for myself since I was at a young age.
Covid threw a spanner into the works, but it just allowed me to be more creative and think outside the box. I am really lucky as I have an amazing team here. They stuck by me when it was difficult and even when there was no cash flow for a couple of months. But we managed to pull through it all!
During the difficult times, I was able to take a step back and reassess things. In doing so, it allowed me and the team to diversify what we do. It was challenging but it was a positive experience as we are heading in another direction for the best.
There are always going to be difficult days and months, but I love what I do and will make it work no matter what.
Are you a perfectionist?
I was a control freak. I had a problem giving people jobs in a way I preferred as it gave me a peace of mind since I knew it would be done correctly. Now I have learnt that I need to delegate to others more often. My company has been in operation for 4 years, but feels like an eternity.
Covid has been the biggest wake-up call. Not just by delegating tasks, but by realising that it's ok if you don't finish everything in time, it's ok if things have to take a little bit longer. You can do things at your own pace. Do 3 things very well in a day instead of doing 50 things haphazardly and not giving each task the attention that it really needs.
Tell me more about your yoga journey.
Before I started this business, I studied to be a Yoga teacher. I was qualified and practised all day everyday. When I started “Fabric Bank” in 2017, I just got back from the UK, moved to a new apartment and was still working for another company. I then had to make the decision to work on my own company full time to give it a good go.
It is a difficult decision to make the leap, giving up a salary and diving into the unknown. I made the decision to take the leap but it caused 2 years of bad habits - working all day, not eating well etc. But one day I decided to put an end to that lifestyle, I started going to the gym again and making self care a priority.
Yoga has cured everything for me. I used to be a long-distance runner, henceI developed a lot of bad problems with my knee and Ilio-tibial band (ITB). At that time, I met a Yoga teacher, who helped me stretch and strengthen my muscles. It completely alleviated all the aches and pains. When I first started yoga, I couldn't even touch my toes and I was basically a plank. I was envious of everyone in the class and wondered if I would ever get to their levels. Then day after day, I got better and better. It just takes time, dedication and patience.
Do you have a daily routine or ritual that allows you to put your wellness first?
I try to stick to a routine but my days/weeks do differ. I always wake up early enough to have breakfast at 6 am/6:30 am, then I get my emails set and do my admin for the day. I later head out for my first appointment around 8 am. However, work is very much dependent on my clients. I deal a lot with interior designers and architects, but since Covid, most meetings are held on zoom.
I am always home by 5 pm in the afternoon, so my boyfriend and I are at the gym by 6 pm. We make sure we fit time in the day for our gym routine. I am a lot better than I was as I used to come home from the office at 9 pm/10 pm, do some more work and then have very late dinner before bed. My routine now is to wake up early and go to bed early.
What are your habits on spending time on social media and general screen time?
After work, my boyfriend and I like catching up on TV series, enjoy dinner and spend time chatting.
I try to stay off my phone after work but I have to admit that I probably spend too many hours on my business Instagram because I usually do design/trend research on instagram. But sometimes I can get carried away - 5 minutes becomes 3hrs OMG.
Do you fit meditation into your daily routine?
It used to be part of my routine, however, to be honest, I have not practised for a while. During lockdown, I did meditation every day by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. It was a 29 day lockdown series that truly helped me keep sane through the crazy times. Meditation really should be part of my daily routine. I know if I do it for a couple of days, it would become a new habit.
How do you think different patterns, colours of textiles of fabrics can change or impact a person's life?
I am very passionate about prints, patterns, textiles and wallpapers. There are various methods that one can produce/print, but I won't go into the technicalities of it. We make use of digital printing which allows one to print onto so many varied substrates and get very creative.
Prints and patterns have a positive impact on one's emotional state. Colours and shapes can create calming atmospheres if used correctly but can also do the opposite if not done well.
People have different tastes from colours to patterns, but I definitely think it does affect your mood and how you represent yourself as an individual. I can see you wearing a beautiful floral print, which tells me you are a fun, loving and bright person, and you love life. Patterns represent personalities and what they stand for. I 100% believe that colours and patterns affect people's wellbeing.
If you need to create a comfort corner in your house, what pattern and colour would you use?
I love everything. I moved in with my boyfriend just before Lockdown. He is a minimalist, but I love patterns although I will include patterns through scatter cushions or bold print on feature wallpaper. I definitely gravitate toward earthy tones, like Terra-cotter.
If you have to pick one material that makes you feel warm, comfortable and relax, what would it be?
My absolute favourite is the super fluffy fleece blankets. When I come back home from work, get into my pyjamas and grab my blanket, I feel fully relaxed and comfortable.
Please share three serene life advice
Firstly, take time for yourself. Make sure you dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes a day to do something you truly enjoy. It doesn't have to be the gym, yoga or meditation. It could be anything that you enjoy.
Secondly, keep your mind at ease by surrounding yourself with things you love. It can be a painting, a beautiful cushion, or anything, as long as you feel happy, relaxed and calm.
Lastly I personally think yoga really helps. I would invest in a good yoga mat. Whether it is 5 minutes or an hour of practice a day, it still benefits. Start small, make it a habit and keep it sustainable.
Get more inspiration from Shara.