How it all got started and then some

How it all got started and then some

How it all got started...and then some

Let’s be honest here, emigration is not for those who don’t have a mix of blind faith, grit determination, a dab of insanity and a huge belief in your own abilities. These are just a few of the traits required before you give up everything, to start a new life, especially when you are doing it in your forties.

I have questioned my sanity, more than once. I have questioned by beliefs, more than once. I have questioned whether I made a mistake more than once. I have learned that these are all perfectly normal. And that, in time, it will be okay. The fluster one feels in the months after arrival settles, you start to integrate and understand how things work and the panic starts to subside.

I arrived in Canada just as the pandemic kicked off – 29 February 2020. This date it forever burned in my brain. Because really, who wants to have smooth sailing on the proverbial calm seas when arriving in a new country to start a new life right?

I already suffered through the mixture of chills and tingles that chased up and down my spine on the flight over. It’s during those hours in the air, when you have time to weigh your decisions, where you really start to question and, in some cases, second guess yourself.

The game plan went out of the window with Covid. Get a job, integrate, pay my taxes, the good old 40/40/40 – except in my case it would be 20/80/20, I am getting on in years much to my chagrin.

But I had already done that. Yes I had. There’s something about crossing two oceans and being so far out of your comfort zone that changes you.

So, we arrive, the dogs arrive, a few months tick by, we eventually find a rental in a really nice sport in Surrey. Things are super weird with social distancing, Covid, people.

Dumela May 2020.

I was always into creative endeavours from a wee tyke. It was also my escape from the humdrum of life in general. My creativity gets supercharged when I create things with my hands. I am very much a tactile person. I like to touch; I love textures and colours and everything has the possibility of being turned into an art piece. My brain never shuts up. Ever.

So, May 2020. I knew absolutely nothing about resin. I was however hell bent on making mosaics and mixed media. But wait. I also could not source all the mosaic tiles I wanted. I was on the hunt for specific tiles, that needed no cutting, which for the life of me I could not source in Canada.

Also, having injured my arm before leaving South Africa meant that I could definitely not afford to get into #CuttingWars with the mosaic nippers or any other cutting tool for that matter. One way around this is to use tiles in various sizes and shapes as they are, without the cutting and nipping required when cutting larger pieces. Problem was, these were available in the US, at an astronomical cost.

How I stumbled on epoxy resin and its endless possibilities remains somewhere in the foggy recesses of my art addled brain. But I did and now I too know how Alice felt when she went down the rabbit hole.

Here, I must give a shout out to all the artists, tutors and mentors on You-Tube. Your tutorials on resin were invaluable and gave me a very good starting point. Thank you for your time and effort, this arty crafty very much appreciated them. In time, I too will do tutorials, giving back to the art community I so love and appreciate.

Right, back to the rabbit hole. It all started with chocolate and baking molds and literally went south from there. I created various resin mosaic tiles in so many colour combinations and so quickly, I voraciously consumed gallons of resin in the process, in what seemed to be the blink of an eye.

This whole process included a few flash cures where I was running around outside holding a smoking jug of resin and hyperventilating about Canadian wooden homes that do not like anything hot and smoky, setting silicone molds on fire (yes there were actual flames) and trying to remove digits from my body with craft knives, involuntarily of course.

I can truly say I have bled for both my business and my art. Luckily no blood transfusion was required. I hope to keep it this way.

One of the costliest disasters from a business point of view involved silicone, acrylic blanks and a fit of pique. Add all parts B to A or else you are left with silicone soup that clings to everything and refuses to budge. Not even degreaser moves that soup out of engraved acrylic blanks. I have resorted to toothpicks and inappropriate language. I may take up drinking as well.

The lesson in this tale of woe. Fits of pique in a business takes your concentration off what you should be doing. And ultimately leads to costly mistakes.


I had to re-order silicone (not cheap), there was time lost. When you are trying to develop a product line this in itself is a mini disaster.

My trial by fire was an old wooden bench (slightly rotten) that I decided needed to become an art piece for the garden. Oh, and let me say here, being the rebellious artist that I am, I broke several rules of mosaicking. Deliberately. This may well come back to haunt me. To date, this bench is still a work in progress and a project I hope to complete by the end of spring 20…. something. Who knew such a small thing could be so much hard work eh?

Why do you ask would I share my tales of woe? Well, quite frankly shit happens. Even to seasoned artists and it is funny (a week or two after the fact). Humour does get one through some dark and dreary days. There is also a lesson for the small business owner here.  I will leave you to decide what you want to take from my tale.

Creating has always been a passion of mine. Presented with the opportunity to “Carpe Diem”, I did, with enthusiasm and a dab of insanity. My pandemic babies became a reality.

Messy Meerkat Studios was born on the 14th February 2021, registered as a business in British Columbia. So, what is in a name huh? Me, aged 5 and a meerkat, that is what. They, with the wolves and wild dogs, are my peoples. I take my tribe hood seriously and pay homage to the little critters every day.

I have always wanted to start my own business; it has been a lifelong dream of mine. Fear has held me back from achieving so many things if I am truly honest with myself. Where I could have been vs. where I am.

There really is no point in dwelling on the past, it is after all, the past. Nothing shoves you out of your comfort zone like moving to the opposite side of the planet. And this, in that place outside a comfort zone, this is where the growth and magic happen.

Is it easy? No. ROI is slow in coming. Things are starting to look a little more optimistic and I have some plans in place to help my business grow and thrive.

Currently I wear all the hats in my business, and this can hamper growth. I use my skillset acquired in corporate to help push me through these times. And what I do not know, I learn, from others or by myself.

I have learned many new things in 2021. From the strange and unfamiliar networking (give to give, give to receive), to digital marketing to design programs. Sometimes I need to pause and look back and take it all in.

Despite my financial goals not being achieved as quickly as I wanted, I have learned so much and grown so much as a person in an incredibly short space of time. As an introvert, I really struggle with putting myself out there. Yet my confidence has grown immeasurably. It’s a moment where my heart gives a funny jingle and I look in the mirror and say to myself “Lucia, I am proud of you and what you have achieved and how much you have grown.”

Motto: I am a businessperson/entrepreneur that is also an artist. More on that statement in a future blog.

The future is an unknown, but I believe in myself enough to know that I will “Carpe Diem”.  I would love to share my artistic journey with you all and welcome any feedback on my existing product lines. Have a look at my ecommerce site, another learning curve and ongoing work in progress.

I would love to hear your thoughts. I also give this guarantee, you will not get spammed out of your blood group with endless emails from me (a personal pet peeve). I value your time in this busy world.

Until next time.

Tally ho!

©Lucia Steeg, The Messy Meerkat, December 2021

#HandmadewithLove #Mixedmedia #Visualartist  #Allaboutthecreativity #WomeninBusiness #Smallbusiness #Womenentrepeneur


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