Let’s skip the part where we talk about the kind of year 2020 has been, and how it has devastated South Africa’s events industry. We all have a pretty good grasp of this by now. Instead, let’s get to the part where we start talking about how this is affecting the people within the sector. Or, in this specific case, how it is affecting Lorin Bowen.
“We couldn’t wait to see the back of 2019 and 2020 held so much hope, it was going to be the year of 20Plenty. It certainly was ‘Plenty’ but not in the way we had hoped.”
Nearly everyone in the local MICE events industry knows Lorin, a bubbly personality who found her calling in this sector. Originally pursuing a dream to be a chef, Lorin’s career path has taken her from the kitchens to PR & marketing manager at Indaba Hotel, followed by general manager at the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI). She was then appointed as the general manager of Scan On Show – which rebranded to Synergy Business Events during her time there, where she managed Meetings Africa for three years. Next, she launched her own business, Lorin Bowen Business Events, where she managed large-scale events such as the Sasol Khanyisa Roadshow in 2018 (a 32-day roadshow covering 14 stops around the country) and the exhibition component of the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) in Cairo, Egypt, also in 2018. Her talents lie in her proven organising abilities, as well as her attention to detail, people skills and business savvy.
Then COVID happened…
“We couldn’t wait to see the back of 2019 and 2020 held so much hope, it was going to be the year of 20Plenty. It certainly was ‘Plenty’ but not in the way we had hoped,” says Lorin wryly.
After trying her hand at virtual events at the start of the lockdown, Lorin soon recognised that her heart wasn’t in it. She needed to find another way to get through the pandemic. And so, like many of us, she started a side hustle. Actually, a few.
“L’s Bath & Beauty has been in the making for a number of years,” says Lorin. “I have made products such as bath salts and sugar scrubs for personal use and to give to friends, but I had never thought of making it a business. COVID-19 gave me time to think, like all of us, and I decided to give it a bash.”
She attended several courses and has now developed her product range. It includes bath salts, sugar scrub, body lotion, handmade soaps and bath bombs available in a variety of fragrances. She will soon be adding shampoo and conditioner, both as bars and liquid, in addition to body butter, hand soap and hand cream. In the long term , she also plans to produce lip balms, lip scrubs, face masks and hair masks.
The range is 100% handcrafted and rooted in a sustainable ethos, from production to packaging. “Unfortunately, the current packaging isn’t very sustainable, so the search for ideal packaging continues,” she adds.
Because every batch is handmade to order, she also has the advantage of being able to easily customise her products to a client’s requirements.
“My aim is to have a prototype ready to take to market for input in the second quarter of 2021. I hope to be able to have the premier amenities range of choice for boutique hotels, guesthouses, and bed & breakfasts in the coming years.”
Lorin is eager to develop L’s Bath & Beauty into a sustainable hotel amenities range. “I realise that I am not going to be able to compete with some of the bigger retail brands, but I want my customers to use our products as their go-to for bath and beauty because it is trusted for its quality and priced to suit most budgets. Every lady (and man) deserves to pamper themselves and we want to be the collection of products that they turn to first,” she says.
“I research and think about this a lot. My aim is to have a prototype ready to take to market for input in the second quarter of 2021. I hope to be able to have the premier amenities range of choice for boutique hotels, guesthouses, and bed & breakfasts in the coming years.”
Alongside her body care range, Lorin has also started an old-fashioned candy label with her mom; “We are very much in the research and development phase of this, but we are thinking of creating solutions for conference centres to offer different tea breaks to their delegates, and different ideas for delegate sweets and children’s party gift bags.”
Lorin’s parents also launched Lorian’s Cheeses deli and farm stall in March, which sells artisanal cheeses from around South Africa, as well as a range of homemade deli products which are the “perfect fit to your cheese board”. Lorin laughs that she has “inserted” herself into the business and is helping them market and manage it. Despite the unlucky timing of their opening, the deli is attracting a loyal following. Recently, they have opened an adjoining coffee shop that serves breakfasts on Wednesdays and Sunday lunches, and is being developed into a function space for private events.
“Without question my biggest challenge in 2020 is to maintain motivated and positive.”
When asked what her biggest challenge has been this past year, Lorin says, “Challenging is the understatement of the century. Certainly, without question my biggest challenge in 2020 is to maintain motivated and positive. Some days are harder than others, but those around me remind me that we are still better off than many others out there.”
She also admits that the lockdown had a few unexpected silver linings: “It has forced many of us to take a long look at our lives; to slow down and appreciate the small things – quality time with family and being outdoors being two of those things; to re-evaluate our businesses strategies and personal lives to give it better direction (or just direction in some cases) so that when we get to 2021, we have a plan of action on how we are going to make things work for us in all aspects. We all need to be financially secure, but I feel that many of us have come to realise that money is a means to an end. Feeding the soul by doing things that make us happy, spending quality time with people who have a positive impact on your life and weeding out that stuff that drains us.”
“2021 is not going to be the magic switch that makes everything right.”
Looking forwards she adds; “2021 is not going to be the magic switch that makes everything right. It will still be a tough year, especially the first half. But I encourage everyone in our industry to keep your head down and keep going, keep the motivation, look for those things that feed your soul, look up occasionally and enjoy the sun on your face and smell the roses. We will be okay! We will get through these challenges! And remember to be kind to one another!”
If you’d like to get in touch with Lorin about any of her new ventures, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll also be able to find her selling her products at two upcoming markets: