99FM – Your Inspiration Station

Discovering Significance in Flowers

Sandra met her husband Kalf van Zyl in Franshoek in South Africa. She had moved to the Western Cape of South Africa at the age of 16 years old to attend school for people who are visually impaired. Up until then she had lived where she was born, in Otjiwarongo. The two moved back to Namibia to open up, what Sandra calls “a small farm stall with lots of flowers,” Kaapse Tafel well known in Windhoek for it’s beautiful Proteas.

Sandra has less than 10 percent sight yet you would never know by the beautiful arrangements of flowers she puts together. Her team consists of Martha Shaanika, who is a self taught florist, Victor Josef, who himself is hearing impaired and who could possibly have the biggest and most contagious smile in all of Namibia as well as Jolene de Haan whose endearing charm wraps up this business in a perfect bouquet.

The business moves over a ton of Proteas a month in Namibia and is about to open up a second shop in Windhoek. A meeting with the knowledgeable Sandra leaves you with a new understanding of flowers. 99FM’s MYD Smart spoke to Sandra van Zyl about flowers and how she set up this business with a lot of heart.

img_1911“I like to work with a story, trying to go as close to the flowers symbolic meaning as possible in each arrangement. Sandra explains that, “Each flower has symbolism, it comes from the Victorian era when flowers were given as a method of communication. What the flower meant was what someone was communicating.”

“Protea’s mean new beginnings, courage and diversity and thats why I love them” says Sandra who goes on to explain that “You get 1400 different varieties of Proteas and Fynbos. They use very little water and being so hardy, they do well in our climate. Plus they don’t die – they dry, so you can dry them and make many things with the dried flowers.”

As she pulls a perfect arrangement together Sandra notes that, “I work from knowing why the person is sending the bunch. In this one, a gentleman has been married for four years today and so we’ve selected the Protea Snow Princess, Blushing Brides and Roses.”

img_1900Her passion is evident and when asked about how she has grown this business her humility comes through, “I have a wonderful team, Martha is excellent. Victor, we can’t work without him, he is hearing impaired but he is always smiling.”

“As a florist you build up relationships with people, you hear their stories, you’re there for their weddings and deaths, you work with a lot of emotions. It’s a privilege to be there to help people.”

“Coming from me, being visually impaired and classed as disabled, what you achieve in life is what you expect from yourself.” She laughs as she adds, “and I forget that I am disabled, if I want to get somewhere I go.”

“What you expect from life is what you are going to get. So have high expectations in yourself’ says Sandra who adds, “we live in a wonderful country with such friendly people who are always so willing to help. Be open to everybody.”

Kaapse Tafel also sells farm eggs, honey, products from the south of Namibia, soaps and more. You’ll find them at Ferreira’s Nursery Garden Landscaping Centre in Windhoek and soon next to Kubata Restaurant in Eros. Get in touch with them on kaapsetafel@yahoo.com