Ilani Johnstone Special Interview

Sometimes engaging your creative side can inspire your inner entrepreneur. Four full-time working women share their success stories..

I lani Johnstone, 30, is a fulltime portrait photographer. She lives in Roodepoort with her husband Alastair, and runs Just Love Stitch, a cross-stitch craft company. I inherited my love of crafting from my mom, who introduced me to the likes of needlework and knitting from a young age. My love for needlework grew, and in-between my work as a photographer, I would experiment with different mediums and techniques.

Ilani Johnstone Special Interview Photo Gallery



When my husband got a laser-cutting machine for his branding company, I thought that it would be fun to try out cross-stitching on wood. I came across really nice keyrings on etsy.com, an online marketplace for handmade or vintage items, but the site did not ship to SA at the time, so I decided to make them myself. After a lot of trial and error, I got the cross-stitch design ready for laser cutting – and loved the result! With the success of my prototype, I decided to pursue my dream of opening a small business in 2016 called Just Love Stitch, creating a range of handmade products that feature cross-stitching on different mediums like wood, leather or paper.

My designs are a modern take on an age-old craft, and I’ve branched out to cut on cork, too. I also cross-stitch on small items, including bracelets, as well as furniture decor elements. What I love most about my business is making the items, as it allows me not only to be creative but to have fun while doing it. For this reason, most of our products are also available as DIY kits, so customers can enjoy this process too, and really make the items their own.

I feel as if things have finally come full circle – currently the only permanent member of staff assisting me is my mom, Petro. I’m so grateful that she nurtured my needlework skill when I was young, so that I could turn it into something more today. I’d love to grow my business, but in the meantime I’m still a full-time photographer. Because most of my sales are done via hellopretty.co.za, it gives me the freedom to work my own hours, and when I’m not behind a camera I’m working on my company. Ultimately, I like to think I’m making crafting cool again!

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