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Empowering a Creative Life

We are proud to introduce to you a new series called Global Talent Spotlight.

The Global Talent Spotlight will feature an in-depth look at employees from all over the globe who take their creativity to the next level. From street artists, singers and comedians to painters, authors and documentarians, our FCB family is full of amazingly interesting people who all have a story to share. 

By Luanne Rheeder, FCB Joburg

To introduce myself, I am Luanne Rheeder, executive assistant to FCB Johannesburg Managing Director Alistair Mokoena and Group Chief Strategist of South Africa Rita Doherty – so my job isn’t a particularly creative job except for time management. ;)

I would like to tell you how wonderful it is to teach someone a skill that will empower them for life – especially a creative one.

In 2013, during my Easter break, I asked my sister-in-law, an avid crocheter, if she could teach me how to crochet. I have been a knitter all my life, but never attempted to crochet. (It is similar to being either a Microsoft or an Apple person, to put it in advertising speak.) 

Learning to crochet turned out to be an easy transition, from two needles to one hook, and within half an hour I was merrily crocheting my first “granny square.” (This name comes from something all of our grandmothers created using up bits and pieces of leftover wool from other projects. Waste not, want not.)

The next day I went to the yarn store and purchased some beautiful cotton thread, and started to make myself a multicolored granny square blanket. (My own grandmother only ever made me a solid-coloured blanket as it happens. Tsk, tsk.)

Upon returning from vacation, I duly brought the beginnings of my project to brag about and show all of my creative advertising friends at the office, but the first person who saw it was the cleaning lady.  Here at our office, we outsource our cleaners, but this cleaning lady has worked here for nearly 5 years, so she is part of the FCB family.

When she saw what I had crocheted, her words to me were “I wish I could do that.”

I responded, “Well, of course you can.”

She asked, “How?” And I said, “I will teach you. Come sit with me at lunchtime tomorrow. I will buy you a hook and some wool.”

A little while later she came back and asked me if it would be alright if she brought three of her colleagues to come and learn. To this request I agreed, of course. And the rest is history.

These four single moms, who earn about $200 a month, have joined me every single lunch hour for the past year, never missing a day unless they were on their annual leave, or off sick – which has been seldom.

They struggled at first but together with their awesome determination, we have made a whole range of blankets, scarves, hats, laptop covers and bags. Some of them have even designed the products all their own. I continue to supply the wool, but always recover the cost once we sell them.

I take no profit. It is all for them.

This extra income has enabled these ladies to double their monthly income. Some have even found this to be a perfect way to manage hypertension.

What I do at my desk every day may not always be creative, but learning and teaching others to crochet has more than satisfied my own need to be creative – not to mention the need of four wonderful new friends.