The Street Store - All the feelings.

I've done interviews. I've written social media posts. I've done talks. But I have never brought myself to write a blog about The Street Store - and the utter joy it brings me - because it's hard to put my feelings into words.

The Street Store is like my baby. I love it, no, I cherish it and everyone who is a part of it, with all my heart and soul. It's still surreal how these two scribbles on a page, became what they did.

It has been the most incredible 15 months, and every day seems to get better. It's not the awards - yes, of course they're lovely - but it's so much more.

It's a reminder in inherent kindness that exists out there. People who go out of their way to bring dignity to the homeless in their community. These people give me hope and inspire me to try and do more.

We've estimated that over 200,000 homeless have been clothed globally. 200,000. A number I can't even start to imagine. It would have been quite literally impossible if there weren't good people out there willing to make the world a better place. This is not a way of showing off our success, because it really isn't about success. It's a way to show that no matter how small an idea may seem, with the help of others, with collaboration, with sharing - it can have gigantic impact. So it's always worth a try.

It's also shown me what it feels like for a company to really and truly care about making a difference. M&C Saatchi Abel has taken on this initiative with such love, enthusiasm and passion. It's a privilege to work for a company that believes in its people, in small ideas becoming big ones, and seeing and supporting it all through to the end - whenever that end may (or may not) be. People ask me what it's like to work here, and truthfully, it's like working with my second family. Mike, Gordon, Jason, and everyone else - thank you.

It's shown me what people can pull off and make happen when they push through the tough times. What did Max, Faheem, Kim and I know about a) helping the homeless, b) running a charity, c) keeping a charity going, and 4) somehow surviving all of the above? The answer is zero. And now I know that no matter how tough or even impossible something may seem - it is possible. This thing has bonded us in a way that I will never be able to put into words. I just have this for you: love, respect, and all the trust in the world.

The Street Store has become a part of me. I live, breathe, think, and dream Street Store. I can't remember a time before it, and I hope to never have a time after it.


UCT Upstarts Speech

UCT Upstarts is an annual, year-long initiative launched in 2015, that uses multiple pop-up platforms to develop the next generation of upstarts - influential, young game-changers who will become job-creators, instead of job-seekers. At the end of the program, teams submit their social innovation projects, and the top applicants will go on to the "Idea Auction", where thought-leaders, companies and organisations can "bid" to support them.

I was asked to talk at one of the events... This is my story.


I used to go here. I graduated from UCT, and Tiger Tiger, in 2009.

So, when an email popped up one day with the subject, “UCT Upstarts – Speaker Invite” I did a little dance at my desk. Then I read further… “UCT Upstarts is a joint-initiative between the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Super Stage”… I love me some innovation, so this was looking good.

I scrolled a bit more… to the over-arching theme of the talk:

Well, Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Super Stage… Do I have a bone to pick with you.

Can anyone tell me what’s very, very wrong with this topic? Anyone?

The problem is that it’s trying to inspire change, innovation, creation and passion in young people – but just by virtue of those first four words – it’s limiting you and telling you that you that you can’t.

So, I’m changing the topic:

And centering it because it looks funny:

And underlining it because it’s important:

If I’d waited ‘til I was all grown up to try and change the world, then this would never have happened…

My name is Kayli Levitan, and on 14 January 2014, I, my colleague Max Pazak, and the advertising agency where we work, M&C Saatchi Abel - founded The Street Store. 

Ever since my entire perspective on the way I work and on human potential has shifted.

When you’re a kid, you think you can do anything. And slowly but surely your parents, teachers, and even lecturers convince you that you can’t and make even trying, seem like a bad idea. They may not mean to, but things like “be careful, you’re gonna hurt yourself”, “You can do that when you grow up”, “You’re not ready to learn that section”, and even “write an essay about so-and-so’s thoughts, not your own” – all leads to the belief that you aren’t ready for something – physically, emotionally, and mentally. And that if you were to just go for it, you’d come out 2nd best.

I want to touch on three things that stop people from doing great things, but really shouldn’t.

When are you ever the right age to do something? When you’re a grown up? Well, when is that? Apparently I am a grown up, but I don’t feel like one. Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean that people won’t take you seriously. And if they don’t, they’re not worthy of your time. It’s not about age, it’s maturity. Being ready to take on a challenge and see it through. You may be that person at 12 years old, at 25, at 50, or never – but the only way you’ll find out is by trying. And if it doesn’t work – so what? At least you tried and hopefully learnt something from the experience. Which leads me to…

Really? I’m a copywriter and my co-founder is an art director. We work at ad agency. We come up with ideas. We make adverts. About beer and gyms, deodorant and insurance. What experience did we have in starting a charity that would help clothe the homeless in over 120 cities around the world? Zero. It was our inexperience that allowed us to innovate – because we had no idea what the norm was.

You don’t need experience to do something, you gain experience once you’ve started. You need to find an insight. We realised that bringing the haves and have-nots together in a dignified and meaningful way, would break through deep-set social stereotypes, and cause people to donate now and in the future. And that’s where it all began. Not through experience. Through research.

But research takes time, which leads on to...

If you have kids – maybe you are. But otherwise, busy is just an excuse. I’m busy. I work in advertising by day, and by night, I’m batman! Nope, bad joke. At night I run an online restaurant directory and blog. So, I know what busy is. But when you’re passionate enough about something, you’ll find the time to make it happen. You need to set aside time every day to go through the process of creation - thinking, brainstorming, working, making it happen. And it gets easier. Your brain, like any muscle, needs to be exercised to work at it’s best.

So stop making excuses. And stop letting people impose limitations on you. Be a kid again. A kid who really believes that they have the power to do what ever they want.  

The truth is, there is no such thing as being ready. But don’t think of that as a negative – all it does is set you free to go out there… and try.


Generation Next Speech

I was asked to make a 5 minute speech at an event called Generation Next. It was from the perspective of 6 very different Jewish youths, with very different backgrounds. We had to discuss how we fit into the Jewish world, what our religion means to us, and what we think the community needs to do in the future. I have added the "translations" of terms in brackets. This is my story.


I started thinking about this speech one Friday evening while I was walking to my sister for Shabbat (the Sabbath). We chatted about it at the dinner table, but soon got distracted by other topics – things like the parsha (the Torah/bible story of the week), the fact that it’s almost Pesach (a Jewish festival) time; and that I have finally found the perfect place to build my first Sukkah (an element you create at a Jewish festival) this year. After dinner, I walked home again, significantly fuller, got into bed and went to sleep.

I woke up with a start in the morning as my alarm went off. But I was way to lazy to go for a run, so I hit snooze a few times. Finally I dragged myself out of bed, made a cup of coffee and called my mom. She couldn’t chat for long because she was off to shul (synagogue). So I got out my lap top, did some work, but lost track of time and whipped on a skirt and top and rushed off to my shul, Chabad (a very religious group of Jews), and prayed like a good Yiddishe Maidel (good Jewish girl).

All in all, I am what some may call a secular 26 year old girl, with an exceptionally frum (religious) 50 year old woman named Ester Faiga trapped inside her, trying to claw her way out.


There is so much about Judaism that draws me in. But unless you want to sit here for an hour or 5 listening to me, I am just going to mention two.

Firstly, it’s the community. You’re never alone. There is always someone there for you. Be it just a person from the shul who invites you for Shabbos, a rabbi or rebbetzin (a rabbi's wife) who you feel you can talk to, and even the network Jewish institutions, which are there for you when you need them most. You are part of an incredible community, which is something people long for.

And secondly, there’s a structure to life. It’s like a clearly defined path, but no matter how far you may stray from it, it’s always there for you when you want to get back on. Things like Shabbos and Chaggim (festivals) make up some of the biggest stepping stones on that path. We take it for granted and don’t realise how lucky we are. It was only made apparent to me when a Non-Jewish co-worker said that he was going to choose a night of the week, give it a fancy name, and force his family to come together, because it was something he lacked in his life.

That said, there are a lot of things I don’t do.

Just two of those are big ones - I don’t keep Shabbat 100% and I’m not Kosher (Jewish dietary laws). I want to and I could – I know all the laws - but I am just not ready for it right now. I don’t believe that you or anyone else can force religion on to you when you aren’t ready,  because eventually you’ll fall off the wagon.

Learning about something and knowing that you’re not ready to take it on is one thing. But the deeper issue is when people simply don’t understand a topic, so they think it’s not right for them. The issue is that there is so much to Judaism that you just can’t understand – either ever, or until you experience it.

I experienced this first-hand when my dad died 18 months ago. I felt like my life had come to a stand still. I didn’t know how I could carry on living in a world without him. I didn’t know how to move forward.

The Jewish Mourning Laws after a parent’s death are very intense for a full year – filled with heavy restrictions on what you can and can’t do.

I learnt about it at school – but I never really understood it.  It didn’t make sense to me. It felt so old fashioned and irrelevant. The thought of taking on all of these responsibilities as a 24 year old, seemed overwhelming and if I’m honest, impossible.

But I was so wrong.

It was the community’s support, but more importantly, the mourning structure that gave me a way to move forward. It gave me direction. It sounds bizarre, but the limitations did two things:
It showed me, pretty much by force, how to live - without fear that I’d do the wrong thing or disrespect his honour. And secondly, the limitation worked as a constant reminder of what had happened – I wasn’t given a moment to deny or forget it – which ultimately, helped me accept and cope with losing my dad.

Learning about the mourning practices would never have prepared me for the understanding I gained through experience. I think of this as the micro-example of religion as a greater whole. You don’t always understand why you do something, but it’s there for a reason.

What I’ve learnt is not to let the stuff that I don’t understand or that I’m not ready for scare me away from Judaism. Right now, I don’t fit into any particular religious box – and maybe I never will. But as long as I keep learning and growing in my own way, I don’t think that’s a problem.

And I think that’s what communities need to bring out in people. The focus shouldn’t be about making people more religious, but rather making them proud to be Jewish. Because at the end of the day, you don’t have to be religious, to be a part of your religion.

It’s not about watering down Judaism so that it fits in to your life – it’s figuring out who you are, to find where you fit into Judaism.


Bad Steers, Bad.

Oh my word. Steers is so awful. Steers didn't want to help the firemen. Steers are the devil. We should go and boycott Steers because they suck so much. I hate Steers. #BRANDFAIL


It's time we reevaluated this whole #BrandFail business. Society has happily started swapping out brands and their content managers willy nilly.

Yes, that content manager has been hired to be the "voice" of the brand and it's their job to do it properly. But when it's convenient to cause an uproar, when it adds excitement to the days of those bored on Twitter, and when it gives us an "evil" to go and attack - we seem to forget that there is a person sitting there. A person who can make a mistake. Does Steers really hate the firemen? No. Obviously not, don't be flipping ridiculous. Does that content manager hate the firemen? Again, I'd say not. Did that content manager make a dumb mistake, oh yeah baby.

But let's be honest, their biggest mistake was the fact that they didn't spot it in time and delete it. Because how many of us have done that before?

I run plenty social media accounts and I like to think I am pretty good at my job. That said, the amount of times that the wrong account has tweeted about being hungover is astounding. I just catch it before anyone sees it. (Sorry bossmen, don't hate me).

Social Media is a dark and scary place. It's a place where real and imagined becomes blurred. It's a place where people hide behind their phones and computers demanding attention (and freebies, and money, and anything they can get their hands on) from whoever will give it. And it's the content managers who bear the brunt of it.


Content managers don't deserve to be shouted at. They aren't the ones who effed up your order, messed up your phone signal, put a frog in your salad, or caused load-shedding.

And brands aren't the ones who tweet dumb things.

Get off that high Social Media horse, and let's be real.


One year later.

It’s been a year. 
365 days. 
1/25 of my life.
A year without having a dad.

At the time, I thought I'd never smile again. That I'd never be able to go a day without crying. I felt like my life had come to a standstill. I didn't know what was next or how to carry on living. It sounds like a cliche, but my world had turned grey. 

Jewish mourning laws are all about structure. For the first 7 days after the death of an immediate family member, a period of time called Shiva, there are many, strict rules to abide by. Among others: you sit on low chairs, don't watch TV or any other entertainment. You don't shave, you don't have long leisurely showers or baths. You don't even leave the house. You cover all art, all mirrors - this time is not about the superficial. You're forced to think about what has happened, no distractions, no denial.

Then comes the next few weeks taking you up to 30 days after the death. It's a time called Shloshim. Here the rules get a bit less strict. You can leave the house and go about your daily business. But you still can't listen to music, go to shows, movies, concerts. No dancing, no singing. No listening to the radio. You don't cut your hair or buy new clothing. Among a whole lot more. The end of Shloshim is the end of the mourning process for all family members, except for those who have lost a parent. For us, this carries on for a full year.

So, that has been my life and it has helped me more than I thought possible. I learnt about all of this at school, and didn't really see how it could benefit anyone. But I was so wrong.

All this structure gave me a way to move forward. It gave me direction. Showed me, pretty much by force, how to live. There was never a worry that I was doing the wrong thing, disrespecting his honour, making a wrong decision - they were all made for me. I was never given a moment to forget or deny what had happened. At every point, I was forced to remember, and ultimately, forced to accept and cope with losing my dad.

Death intimidates people. I've seen it first hand. You can feel when one of those awkward moments are going to happen, like when you meet someone new and they ask where your parents live or what they do. I try keep it light, but people who haven't been through this sort of loss, generally don't know how to act. Understandably. 

I've also had people be quite rude. They ask why I can't do something, and when I explain, they say that it sounds stupid to them. I've even had someone tell me that they don't understand why people find loss so hard to deal with, that it's just "the way the world is". 

The thing is that death will always be hard to deal with. But for me, accepting it and dealing with it, not forcing it out of mind - let me come to terms with it. 

There has been one very poignant change in myself that I noticed over the last year. After it happened, I used to say that he had "passed away". I couldn't bring myself to say it. But now, a year later, I hate those words. In a way, it feels like it's disrespectful. Like it isn't real. It's trying to ignore the truth. He died. It sucks. It's horrible. It breaks my heart. But it's what happened. And now that's what I say. I don't tip toe around it, because it makes it sound like it was easy. It lessens that pain, which was so very real. It's a harsh word, but it's just the reality.

This year is a leap year in the Jewish calendar, which means there is an extra month. So, my year of mourning only ends on 19 September. I have a few more weeks of this structure and then everything goes back to "normal" - I'm more scared of that than I thought I would be. Although, I am looking forward to buying some new clothes and cutting my hair. I'm going to miss the rules and the structure. And my constant reminder - through limitation - of my darling dad.

It's been one year. 
365 days. 
This lovely, smiling man died on 30 August 2013. 
I was 24 years old - far earlier than I expected to be without a dad.

I get through my days. Life has carried on. And while the heartache and sadness never goes away, I've learnt how to live around it.


I am not an attractive girl - a response to Jason Motta.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's official: I am not an attractive girl. How do I know this? Because Jason Motta has listed 17 things that a girl needs to do to be attractive on Thought Catalog, and I barely tick any of the boxes.
This is an attractive girl, not a woman dammit! Don't you use that word!


Breathe Salon and Spa Review & Competition

Choice kills me. I'm that girl sitting in the restaurant, intently reading the menu while the rest of the table burn holes of hatred through it, as they wait for me to choose. And the same goes the spa:

"What treatment are you having today?"
"Hello? Anyone there?"
"What even are you asking me questions for?!"

This said, spa treatments are often an easier choice, because I go with the one I can afford.

Until now. Until I was invited to The Breathe Spa & Hair Salon.

Sit down or you may hurt yourself. No, sit. Are you sitting? Good. Now read this:

400 buckaroodles for 3 treatments over 90 minutes? You've got to be kidding me.

Located in the heart of the Winelands, on the Pearl Valley Golf Estate, Breathe offer a full range of treatments from manicures and pedicures, to hair styling, hair and eyelash extensions, body treatments, and more.

After a scenic 45 minute drive (this is a lie, I am terrified of driving to places I don't know, but for most it would be considered scenic) I was ready to get some spa in my life. Clothes off, robe on, tour time then... relax.

I wasn't actually able to try the full Winter Special: I'd just had gelish done on my fingers and toes and had an event a few hours later so I was worried that I would have a facial break out. Bad timing Kayli. So after an amazingly relaxing back massage, I had reflexology for the first time. And guess what, apparently my body is very healthy and calm. How do I know this? Because the therapist kept telling me that a certain prod would hurt and nothing did. Yes, I am the epitome of health, pass me another burger and chips, dammit.

Whether you go for 30 minutes, for the day, or you even book the venue for corporate events or pamper parties (they can even do kiddies birthday parties) you are in for a good time. Not only is Breathe beautiful, it's intimate, unpretentious and I was comfortable from the minute I arrived - literally and figuratively.


How would you like to win a Winter Package from Breathe? The real version, not the useless Kayli version. All you gotta do is:

1. Tweet this: "Hi @KayliVee I want to win a relaxing Core Warming Winter Package from @BreatheSpa_HS http://bit.ly/1rauhJm"

2. Like Breath Spa and Hair Salon on Facebook

3. If you don't have Twitter (gasp) or for an extra entry, you can comment on this page saying which three treatments you'd choose.

And, GO!

Winner to receive a Winter Warmer Package only
Winner from Cape Town and surrounding areas only
Prize to be redeemed by 31 August 2014


The Irit Noble Show Competition

As some of you may know, in the year after you lose a parent, Jewish mourning laws stop you from doing certain things. One of them is going to shows. So when I was offered tickets to the incredible Irit Noble’s new show, The Irit Noble Show, I sadly had to turn them down. Happily for you guys, I’ve decided to give them away!

This exclusive (age restriction 16, I’ll have you know) show, is only running from the 11 - 21 June, at the Galloway Theatre. If you’ve seen Irit perform, you’ll know she is quirky, naughty and very, very funny. Expect a “comedy-cabaret show presenting big-band songs interspersed with sexy, sassy sometimes outrageous stories recounted in her inimitably casual, conversational, stand-up comedy style.” There are also guest appearances from musicians like Lionel Bastos and Shen Winberg.

Bookings can be made with The Waterfront Theatre School at www.waterfronttheatreschool.co.za at R100 per ticket. Group booking special also available – book 6 seats and only pay for 5.

Keep up with the goings-on online here:
Facebook event: http://on.fb.me/1kM3n9f
Twitter: @MsNoble
Hashtag:  #IritNobleShow

To win a double ticket to the Irit Noble Show, all ya gotta do is:


“Hey @KayliVee, I want to win tickets to the new @IritNoble show! #IritNobleShow http://bit.ly/1oPYhIs"

If you don’t have Twitter (or for an extra entry), like Gypsyfeet on Facebook (<-- and="" click="" competition="" o:p="" post.="" share="" the="">

Smooches and good luck!

Winners from CT only
Ticket subject to availability on date requested