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At the fair with Linda

Red Cedar Cosmetics was formed in 2004 and since then has grown steadily. During the past year five products were added to the range and a stylish new label and brochure designed. An upgrade to the website is in process. The team is committed to promoting Red Cedar products and is looking for markets and accepting invitations to exhibit.

Scenically beautiful, Lourensford wine estate in Somerset West hosts an impressive wine cellar surrounded by rolling expanses of green lawns bordering hectares of vineyards. In the run-up to Christmas they invited a handful of select people to display and sell their products in the cellar. Red Cedar was there, ably represented by Linda Bantom and Jessica Moton. They have been trained in product display and very quickly put together an eye-catching stall. Together they made an impressive team, and browsers who stopped to look seldom left without buying at least one Red Cedar product.

Watching her in action at the fair, it became obvious to see why the Red Cedar group has chosen Linda as their supervisor and marketing representative. She is an absolute natural in her appointed positions. Fluent in both Afrikaans and English, she engaged easily with people and talked confidently and competently to them about the Red Cedar projects and the care with which the cosmetics are made.

Linda was born in Woodstock, Cape Town. She and her parents lived with her mother’s family. Her father was a truck driver and her mother worked in a biscuit factory. When Linda was seven they moved to Genadendal, her father’s hometown where they lived with her father’s family and sometimes with family friends. Her parents continued to work in the city, going home on weekends. Linda and her two sisters did their schooling in Genadendal and enjoyed the warmth of community life.

Linda met Dennis in Genadendal – they were childhood sweethearts. When Linda was sixteen she gave birth to their baby girl, Megan. Dennis worked as an electrician in the neighbouring town of Caledon. When Megan was almost a year old they moved to Linda’s parents home in Mitchell’s Plain. For the next five years Linda did various factory jobs. During this time Dennis and Linda had a second child, Craig.

Their life changed track when Mr Schiffer, a retired Moravian reverend, offered Dennis work in the electrification of the mission station at Wupperthal and the outlying substations. The job involved moving to Wupperthal. When they arrived there in 1989, only the church, the shop, the hostel and a few private houses had generated electricity – and after 10:00pm, when the generator stopped running, it was time for the whole community to light their candles.

Linda and her family lived in an abode next to the hostel. Unfortunately a group of children playing with firecrackers caused a fire and the hostel and Linda’s home were burned out. The family lost everything. After that they moved in with Linda’s aunty until eventually they found some rooms to live in.

Linda did not work because she preferred to be with her children and raise them as best she could. Both of her children finished high school and Craig, her son, went on to college.

Dennis was doing well, and things were good – until a nagging health problem started to interfere with his work. Some years earlier he had banged his leg badly and the resulting ulcer would not heal. Despite two skin grafts his leg gave him endless problems. He had to take anti-inflammatories for the pain and these caused stomach complaints. Soon it became impossible for him to hold down a full-time job and their cash resources dwindled. Linda, determined to see her son through college, started a tuck-shop, where she sold sweets and chips and homemade vetkoek and doughnuts.

One evening Dennis came back from church with the news of a proposed soap-making facility in Wupperthal. Linda applied to join the team and, to her surprise, was successful.

On the day that Linda joined the Red Cedar team, a new world opened up to her. Learning how to make the products, how to display and sell them and, furthermore, about the business side of the operation, has boosted her confidence enormously. The money could be better but she believes that as the company grows profits will improve. As it is, the occasional bonus has enabled her to buy a microwave oven and a stereo system. With her next bonus she hopes to buy a washing machine – goodbye to endless hand-washes and plastic bathtubs filled with clothes soaking in soapy water!

Linda’s granddaughter Jaime lives with them but will live with her mother in Somerset West as from next year. Linda will miss her but feels it is a good thing, as mother and daughter need to bond.

Linda regrets that she had her children so young and as a result did not finish school. She hopes her children will take responsibility for their lives, enrich themselves with skills, and so be able to earn more and buy their own homes. It is Linda’s dearest wish that one day Dennis and she will own their own house. The house must have a shower – no more bathing from a bucket!

Red Cedar is proud to have been invited to show and sell their products at Lourensford wine estate. Only goods of a very high standard were on sale –confirmation of how Red Cedar products are perceived. Sales at the fair were promising and the feedback was very positive.