© Xavier Briel

Kane Reilly –  The Pursuit of Passion

August 21, 2019 IN Ambassadors

Meet Kane Reilly. He’s our latest addition to the Jack Black Ambassador family, and damnit we’re excited to have him.

Kane’s young, but wise. He’s driven, disciplined and really good at being a downright decent human being. He’s also really good at covering vast distances across impossible mountain terrain a lot faster than just about anyone you’ve ever met…or will ever meet.

Kane’s been running since he was six years old – honing his skills on the track and cross country. School comes to a close, and like many before him, he fell in love with running in the mountains. And he’s fast, real fast, with over 100 races and an 80% win rate, he’s a true talent. He has boxes of trophies and shelves of medals, but it hasn’t all been winning. Just two years into trail running, and in the best shape of his life, Kane woke up before a race with a swollen ankle.

“It was really weird because I hadn’t rolled it, and couldn’t understand why it was swollen. I went to the usual physios and they too were puzzled. It was clear that this wasn’t a typical sports injury”. Eventually Kane was diagnosed with a real set back, auto-immune arthritis, side-lining him for a year. “Running was my identity, my everything, suddenly there was so much uncertainty, and its unpredictable because one doesn’t know when or if it will return.”

Forced to find balance, Kane matured into the person he is today. He’s overcome adversity and gone on to win the title of SA’s Trail Champion, set many race records and competes with the world’s best on a global stage.  He’s motivated to win and inspired to grow relationships that have a positive effect on communities that running touches.

2019 Salomon Magaliesberg Challenge captured by Carli Smith for www.zcmc.co.za-3

But Kane’s real journey is how he balances the knife edge of competitive racing with a holistic lifestyle that has time for friends, loved ones, and of course, work. The pursuit of passion is a wonderful thing, but it’s also really difficult. Finding balance for all of us is challenging – we have to put bread on the table while making time for the people, and the things we really love.

We’re genuinely inspired by Kane’s approach – he’s all about locking in; running fast, smashing records, fostering relationships and having beers at the end of it all. Like all of us, he knows that finding balance in itself is a moving target and we’re so excited to be a small part of his great story.

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Header image credit: Xavier Briel
Image 1: Peter Kirk Media

Sibu Magane

July 4, 2019 IN Ambassadors

It’s been over a year since we introduced our first ambassador, and what a cool time we’ve had! Our intentions were to connect with like-minded folks who embody our values and our vision. Those doing extraordinary things and others finding the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.

Over the last few years we’ve fallen more and more in love with Jozi, and have found more and more excuses to spend our time there.

Enter Sibu Magane.

We first connected with him on the basketball courts of Soweto. Beyond him being an all-round great guy, what really struck a cord with us is his commitment and passion to uplifting the area he grew up in. Growing up in Soweto in the 1980’s, raised by his mother and grandmother, he’s no stranger to challenges, but his narrative is woven with confidence, positivity, and strong family values, and he’s channelled this in to bringing together communities and uplifting youth through sport.

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Sibu, Age 3

In the months and years ahead he plans to identify and rehabilitate broken up courts in different areas in order to transform them into safe spaces, and build up a series of tournaments to bring everyone together – such as this month’s Southwest Courtside Day in Soweto.

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“Southwest Courtside Day focuses on building the youth through basketball tournaments and Bootcamps sessions in and around Soweto. The tournaments are growing so tremendously, hosting teams from KZN and North-West, creating a really great day out for the whole family”.

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We’re inspired by Sibu’s commitment to his roots, and vision for the future. We can’t wait to welcome him to the team, and work some magic together.

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Images: James Puttick

Ash Heeger

September 20, 2018 IN Ambassadors

Like many of our oldest and dearest, we first met Ash back at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, waaaay before anyone was paying attention to us or trying to understand what the heck we were doing. Craft beer was a totally unfamiliar and almost non-existent thing, so brewing beer out in Stanford and hauling it to a farmer’s market in Woodstock every single Saturday was a bit of a crazy vibe.​

Yes, there was a time when the words ‘craft’ and ‘beer’ weren’t commonly found in the same phrase in SA. We used to have to refer to ourselves as a ‘micro-brewed’ beer for clarity’s sake. And we got weird looks. But not from Ash. She’d come visit us weekend after weekend at our dodgy little stand for a pre or post shift beer, holding down a hectic job (but really kicking-ass) at the world-renowned Test Kitchen restaurant with Luke Dale-Roberts.

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Neither of us were household names but we shared a sense of purpose, committing ourselves to our causes in a no holds barred kinda way. Because we had to. Ash knew and understood the value of ingredients, processes, time, and materials – because like food, beer is alive – and you don’t wanna rush the process. She just got it.

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Ash was born in the Transkei in a liberal community with a strong sense freedom, family and nature. A self proclaimed introvert, she discovered cooking early on and knew by the age of 9 she wanted to be chef. Her life is peppered with career milestones including work experience at La Colombe and the Test Kitchen. Inspired to broaden her horizons, she travelled to the UK where she worked at a top restaurant whose aggressive approach “broke her down and built her up as they wanted her to be” – but not how she wanted to be. Think loads of swearing, shouting, and bravado. So when given the opportunity to work alongside Heston Blumenthal, she took it – and came into her own.

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A road trip ‘eating her way’ through America later, she returned to Cape Town in 2016 to open the highly anticipated Ash restaurant – where she cooked for a sold-out crowd night after night with her charcoal food concept. Fast forward to today, she’ll be opening the doors to her new restaurant, Riverine Rabbit, this October. The restaurant, inspired by both an endangered species and her strong ties with the Karoo, will have a focus on sustainability, seasonal produce, and a drive to support community-driven projects.

She hates the word fine dining, but there’s no doubt the food will be bloody good. No bullshit, no pretense, just amazing food in a beautiful space. After a series of hectic months on the road travelling and cooking, she’s ready to settle down and cook her heart out. Watch this space.

To read more on our ambassadors, check out this blog post.

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Image: James Puttick

Warren Petersen a.k.a Baked Ink

August 16, 2018 IN Ambassadors

“The body, just like the canvas, provides guidelines, limitations and inspiration for any artistic project. The aim is to create flowing compositions which complement, move and live well on the human form. You can’t take back any move, you need to be bold and certain with every mark, brushstroke or line on skin.”

At first glance Warren is a tattoo artist in a sea of tattoo artists, relatively understated and relatively unassuming. It’s only when you inspect the quality and elaborate detail of his work that you start to understand why he feels that the work should do the talking.

Warren’s background is a collision of traditional fine art with modern street culture, making for provocative and often mythological artworks on ‘living, breathing canvases’. We’ve had the pleasure of partnering with tattoo artists in the past, but Warren stopped us in our tracks, and had us re-think the whole notion of this art form, and the passion and motivation behind the ink.

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Image Credit: Karl Schoemaker (Work at Play)

Over the years Warren’s approached his life with an entrepreneurial spirit. He’s been successful on many levels and continues to create wondrous large scale tattoos in the form of sleeves and full body suits. But it’s his future that’s really excites us. It’s as if he has an inextinguishable guiding light, urging him to pursue what he calls ‘creative living’.

“Creative Living basically means being the artist to your own life, using your own life as the medium. So the philosophy is, finding interesting ways to curate your dream lifestyle… to ultimately pursue a life of self-mastery on the road to becoming the best version of yourself”. 

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In a show of further commitment to this ‘creative way of living’ he also refers to his alter ego, Baked Ink. The idea behind the word ‘Baked’ is representative of the creative process; from conceptualisation to execution, with ‘Ink’ honouring the love of both pen and tattoo ink as tools of artistic expression.

Warren’s undoubtedly going to work out a way to flex his creativity across multiple mediums, from illustration, to painting, to food, to music, all with an experiential element that talks to originality. And he wants to inspire others to do the same. He’s determined for the next generation to appreciate, cultivate and master their own creative talents. We can’t wait to see what unfolds and we’re genuinely excited to support him.

To read more on our ambassadors, check out this blog post.

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Stuart McConnachie

July 27, 2018 IN Adventure, Ambassadors

We’ve known Stuart for the better part of 25 years and it’s with great pleasure that we welcome him as our next ambassador.

Stu’s upbringing would seem familiar to many of us – camaraderie and competitiveness living side-by-side, excelling at sports, and gazing out the window during class. He was ready to take the next step with a traditional career path – and was stopped in his tracks. Stu contracted jaundice, sapping his energy and sentencing him to many months in hospital.

“Being broken down to your most exposed self, forces you to re-evaluate. Leaving the hospital with so much doubt about the future moulded a sense of new being. It was a chance to begin again”.

Stu realigned his life so that the right things were prioritised. The first of which was regaining his strength by spending time in Newlands forest with his faithful companion Fergus (a scruffy Airdale Terrier). His plan worked, and within a year he miraculously earned a silver medal completing the Comrades Marathon in 7hr25! This was his turning point.

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Image Credit: Jared Paisley

“I quit my job and decided to see what would happen. I then saw an ad posted by Nic Bornman (an old school friend) for Ultra Trail Cape Town and I immediately wrote to him. I knew this was my reason, my chance”.

Since then Stu has put in the hard yards, building a community (of all shapes, sizes and speeds!) that love to run in the mountains – from smaller weekly gatherings such as Tuesday Trails with routes ending in an ice cold beer, to events like Ultra Trail Cape Town, which sits firmly on the world stage.

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In his spare time, Stu can be found exploring the local wilderness, often with the love of his life, Jasper (his 5yr old son), or with his crew of hardened “Cederbergies,” fast packing through big mountains come rain or shine – bagging peaks, overcoming fears and breathing nothing but pure stoke.

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Image Credit: Jared Paisley

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Image Credit: Jared Paisley

We’re so honoured to be a part of Stu’s story, and are genuinely inspired by his love of life. He truly lives by Madiba’s words: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.

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Image Credit: Jared Paisley