Born and raised in the Eastern Cape, Claire and Kait had a venturesome childhood where they were encouraged to find the space and freedom to be the best version of themselves. After years of adventure and imaginative spaces, Claire and Kait decided to turn their passions into reality by starting up their own brand called Sentiens. Run in a shared creative space in the city bowl of Cape Town, Sentiens aims to source, create, design and sell yoga and other lifestyle products as a way of inspiring people to seek things that motivate them to be their best selves. ‘Our adventure at Sentiens is to inspire people to live as honestly, as courageously and with as much joy as they possibly can.’
Tell us something interesting about your upbringing, background and where you come from, in relation to where you are today.
Kait and I had quite a nomadic childhood but the biggest and most formative chunk of it was in the Eastern Cape where we got to grow up as farm kids. We used to make hideouts in the overgrown bushes, crawl through tunnels of imagined cities we’d made out of hay bales or run wild in the forests collecting mushrooms with the fairies. We had so much space and freedom to use our imaginations that it only seems logical that we’d end up doing something that draws heavily on our combined ability to imagine and create. Looking back, Sentiens is pretty much the grown-up version of our childhood. Our brand is all about finding adventure, finding space, finding freedom to be our best selves - the hallmarks of our very own childhood.
Where are you today? What do you do?
Kait and I run Sentiens in the shadow of Table Mountain, in a wonderfully creative shared industrial space in the city bowl. We love working together there, with the sounds of our peers creating and making and hustling as the soundtrack to our own endeavors. What we do day-to-to-day is source, create, design and sell yoga and lifestyle products. Our work is diverse and challenging and we love that we get to tackle it all head on from our nook in Hope Street Studios.
What project are you currently working on that is exciting to you?
We have a couple of new and exciting things up our sleeves for this year. We are currently in the throes of designing new lifestyle towels. Our towels are made of hyper absorbent, quick drying microfibre and they are a serious treat to use. But the thing we’re most thrilled about is that their compactness and material means that they use far less water than a regular towel does when it’s being washed. We’ve really let our creative hair down for these – they’re our most outrageous designs yet and we’ve had so much fun conjuring them up! We’ll be bringing them to market in the first quarter of 2018.
We know that, at the size Sentiens is now, we won’t be able to make massive industry change. But we aren’t defeated by this – the sum of all of our small eco-conscious choices makes a difference. One of the other aspects of Sentiens we give ongoing attention is finding new ways to reduce our footprint. As of January 2018, we’re removing all unnecessary packaging on all of our products. We are swopping out branded wrappers for an inspiring story destined to be shared or put up on the fridge rather than being thrown away. We are going to be sending out our beautiful new towels in reusable, unbranded drawstring bags. We want these little bags to be reused and re-gifted instead of being doomed for the rubbish heap. The reality is that we’re not able to go up against mega-industry to affect big change but it’s little choices like that that give us hope that we can make changes that have impact.
What is one of your favourite Hannah Lavery pieces and how does help you to do that #WithEase (referring to the previous question)?
My Hannah Lavery tuxedo shoes are just my favourite things. I must be honest, my wardrobe decisions are mostly ‘inspired’ by what’s at the front of my cupboard. I don’t have much time or energy to spend on outfit planning and getting dressed to the nines every day, so it’s a serious treat to slip into my tuxedo shoes and know that I’ll look chic, sharp and pulled together… for that day anyway! I also have one of Hannah’s wrap dresses and took it with me to Morocco on recent travels. I love how that piece flatters my body shape and makes me feel sophisticated. It certainly helped me travel in boiling hot Morocco #WithEase. Kait and I had the pleasure of dressing up in Hannah’s pieces for our shoot for her label and we both couldn’t get over how comfortable and chic we looked. Hats off to Hannah for creating incredibly beautiful clothing that feels as soft and comfortable as pajamas but that looks effortlessly sophisticated.
What do you do for fun, to promote balance and to live #WithEase?
I think that we both try and get ourselves outside as often as possible. Sometimes we can’t, or just don’t, for whatever reason but it is definitely what keeps us both feeling balanced at the end of a busy day. Going for a walk or a run is where I do my best thinking and I love doing that in the morning before work starts.
I agree with Kait. For me, getting outside and onto the mountains we’re so fortunate to call our ‘backyard’ is the easiest and most surefire way to get the balance back. There’s nothing quite like looking down on the city bowl from Table Mountain and being reminded of what’s really important in life. I do think the best perspective is offered from being up the side of a mountain. Thankfully, our friends and people are also mountain, river and outdoor people so fun looks the same to us all.
Have you read an interesting book or article recently?
While we were in Morocco in September, Claire lent me her Kindle to read a few chapters from Tim Ferriss’ The 4-hour Workweek. Everyone should give it a read – his chapter describing his 5-minute morning ritual routine is inspiring, and offer some quick, simple ways to start your day with intention. One of them is making your bed. Imagine that your whole day is an utter catastrophe and that you get nothing of importance done. Now imagine that the last thing you do that day is get into a made bed. It sends a message to yourself that at least you managed to get one thing right! I love that.
The read I recommend most is an essay called Lying by Sam Harris. My partner, Andrew, loaded it onto my Kindle just before I travelled to India five years ago. I read it on my layover somewhere in China and have been doing a refresher read every six months since. Telling the truth, especially when it’s really difficult, is the easiest way to avoid terrible unhappiness and to strengthen relationships. I recommended Lying to a friend a year or so ago, and in exchange he recommended Tim Ferriss’ The 4-hour Workweek. That is also an incredible read for anyone who wants a guidebook on how to break free from the monotony of an office job. It also offers very clever ways to optimize aspects of life and business which makes it a super read for business owners. Look past the gimmicky title – it’s really not one of those books.