Dianne Bayley is an entrepreneur of many talents; she’s a writer, editor, social media manager and now owner of RainChains. We chatted to her about life, the universe and everything.
What made you diversify and start your RainChain business?
I’m currently being driven crazy by technology and infobesity. There’s just too much news – fake and otherwise – filling our heads daily. So I’m doing what I can to get back to living with intention and delight. I started making RainChains after meeting a remarkable man called Noel Dube, who has been a tinsmith since he was nine years old.
I’d seen them overseas, but to import them costs big money – and I’m determined to support small enterprises and talented individuals in South Africa. We began creating the RainChains in December 2017. Business is taking off slowly, when people see how the chains help to harvest rainwater for later use in toilet cisterns or watering veggies gardens. For me, it’s the sound of the rain falling through the galvanised steel “buckets” that make them truly special. They were created by the Japanese centuries ago, and the sound and the functionality of RainChains – or ‘kusari doi’ – make rainwater harvesting a delight
Why do you do what you do?
I write because I fell in love with words as a small child, and have always loved reading. Weaving words is a peaceful pastime, no matter what topic you’re writing about. I make RainChains for the same reason – the process of hand-crafting something useful makes it twice as joyful; and I’m a sucker for the delight of a good downpour of rain! Finding and working with Noel has been a pleasure that every South African in a position to do so should try. He has put three children into school by working with his hands. I have the utmost respect for craftsmen.
How would you describe yourself?
Positive, fun, hard-working; with a love for life. The only area I’m really sensitive about is injustice, in any form. However, fighting doesn’t change it – reason is our greatest asset in that regard.
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
I love working from home; interacting with a variety of people on the phone and in meetings and still being able to hear the birds outside. The freedom to earn more when I work harder is the true essence of what capitalism should be. It’s not about greed, but getting paid 100 cents in the Rand for giving 100 cents in the Rand of my effort.
What’s your biggest work challenge?
Right now, it’s clients who don’t pay – on time or ever. Small businesses and entrepreneurs seem to take the hardest knock when the economy goes awry. Bigger businesses should spend some time with SMEs and see how just a few days late on payment impacts us all. I have a great client who pays on the 25th – when the banks calculate interest – and one client who pays all of his freelancers and contractors before then. He has a profound understanding of how small business can keep economies afloat.
Please share your favourite quote with us
“Everyone who lives dies, but not everyone who dies has lived.”
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
The late radio personality Robin Alexander, who took me under his wing when I was 21 and in a bad place. By example, he taught me how to be loyal and honest in my dealings with all people; to have the courage of my convictions; to be self-supporting; and to speak TO the people who are doing wrong, and not just about them. It doesn’t make you popular, but it does mean you’re willing to stand up and be counted, even if your knees are shaking!
My “star” inspiration has always been the singer Joan Baez, who has stood for pacifism, justice and goodness from age 16 until now. She’s 77 and is doing her Fare Thee Well world tour this year before retiring. I’m hoping my biggest dream – seeing her live in Paris – will happen on South Africa’s Youth Day this year!
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I don’t plan that far ahead. As Dame Maggie Smith said in the fabulous movie The Marigold Hotel, “I don’t even buy green bananas”! I try to live a day at a time, but if you ask what I’d like to be doing in five years . . . writing, painting pictures, taking photographs and teaching youngsters around the world to love reading. Not just to read – but to fall in love with reading. I’d also like to travel far more than I do now – for a greater perspective on human beings from around the globe.
What’s your greatest hope for South Africa?
That we all realise the benefits of the old-fashioned apprenticeship and reinstate them. They enable people of any age to earn while they learn and qualify as an artisan or trades person, regardless of what their most proficient language is. I’d like to see level playing fields like that; more businesses and individuals assisting local talent. My greatest hope of all is that we start to see the kindness inherent all South Africans, and stop making assumptions about each other. Imagine all this beauty AND peace? Let’s uplift each other – there’s enough sunshine for every one of us