Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, 40, an influential mom-preneur and wife to Ian Bredenkamp, 44, well-known voice on South African radio and entrepreneur, spoke to BABY’S & BEYOND.

You and Ian have been married for a few years with two beautiful children, Esther-Beth (5) and Annabelle (3). Please tell us more about your family?

I chose my husband because I knew he would be a wonderful father. We have two older children and I can see how he parents them and I really envy the way he does this.

I knew he would be a great father and I’m lucky enough to have two daughters who are only 22 months apart. Esther is a very confident little girl and Annabelle, although she is very shy, is also very confident. What makes our family unique is the fact that Ian and I read a lot of books and listen to a lot of podcast and have a lot of chats about how to raise successful individuals and how to make sure that our children always feel that they belong and that they can do anything and that they are courageous. Affirmations in our family play a big role and it’s something that we start our day with. So is prayer; we do a lot of affirming through prayer and conversation with our little kids.

Please tell us more about your career?

There’s a lot to say about my career because I have been working professionally for 21 years. However, the short version is that I finished Stellenbosch University in 2000 but was already on stage as a professional actor, singer and dancer. I knew that I wanted to work in television and radio as well because I wanted to try my hand at all other media. That is when the MNet & Kyknet team visited Stellenbosch University and I was headhunted by the channel and had to move from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

Initially I moved up for TV but also landed a radio stint with Jacaranda FM. Even though I have travelled to many other radio stations since 2000, I’m back at Jacaranda FM where I’m still a broadcaster.

My career is mainly broadcasting and since becoming a social media influencer for good, I believe that I can use my influence online to change the world for good, hence the fact that I have also started an online platform called Baby Brunch.co.za. This has helped many people and we’re very lucky to be the No.1 podcast in the country. We are on all the major podcast platforms, Spotify, Apple, etc.

I’m very lucky that in every form of broadcasting that I’ve done, whether it was on stage, TV or radio, or digital, I’ve always used strong messages about support, using my talent to do good and to inspire people, mentor and educate.

How do you manage being a family-orientated wife and mom in between your busy schedules?

I don’t think one separates it. I think I was born to be a family-orientated person and then I became a family orientated mom and wife. At the moment I’m at the office but also do things that mom’s do. I have just booked a holiday for my family and I also planned a meal while sitting here, but I’m also running my business.
The one thing I told our moms when we talk at Parent & Baby Brunch events, where we bring in our experts, is that we should stop being afraid to ask for help; put your hand up. So, at the moment my husband is at the office and I’m here and even though my children have been collected from school, they are with an amazing au-pair for a few hours before we get back and take over.

I think sometimes one drops the ball, but you just get up again and continue because that is what life is about ¬ making mistakes, but it is also about seeing what works for you. I don’t think I will ever stop being a family-orientated mom and wife and we’re busy people, we’re a travelling family, we live between Johannesburg and Cape Town and my children understands that if mommy doesn’t work, she can’t buy nice things and if mommy and daddy don’t work, we cannot go on holiday. The same applies to living between Johannesburg and Cape Town. In Gauteng they know this is where mommy and daddy work and Cape Town is also where we work – the bonus is we get to see Ouma and Oupa!

What do you love most about being a mom?

I LOVE BEING A MOTHER – it is my highest achievement in life. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. What I love the most is that life is about self-work ¬ you have to discover more about yourself, or learn about yourself, or even complete education about yourself that you started when you were a kid.
I have learnt so much about myself raising children and especially raising daughters. I have to be honest with myself and therefore have to be honest with them. What I love most is that I have to teach values to someone and also live them. At home we talk to our girls about the ‘little girl that doesn’t have’. It makes me want to give more and so charity and supporting other people is a big thing in our family. My daughters are learning from this too.
You are also founder of a project called Baby Brunch which is very close to your heart. Please tell us more about the project and how it influences other parents and moms-to-be.

We have support platforms, podcasts, blogs and written work. I don’t call Baby Brunch a ‘project’; I call it a support network. It is close to my heart because it started because I didn’t have the support I really needed and wanted when my baby was born and I didn’t want other parents to feel like that.
I’m proud to say that in 2015, when we started this project, we were the very first parent and baby support network; even before the corporates thought about it. We were the first group that said, “Do you have a breastfeeding room at work because the mom that you just employed has a baby 3-month-old baby. Have you thought about that?”

We want to influence people positively and create awareness, that is our aim and we will continue telling stories through our podcast. We’re not in the business of preaching; we are in the business of telling people “you’re not alone” and showing them that anyone can do it by raising a hand, and that their feelings are valid and real and that we believe them. Parenting is a tough gig but the reason we want it is that it teaches us so much about ourselves. If you’re able to have a child, it’s a big privilege and a massive gift.

In April 2020, you launched a clothing line called ELANA by Glare, in partnership with Glare Modern Vintage. Tell us more about the inspiration behind this venture and its success to date.

Elana by Glare was launched during South Africa’s lockdown and it gave people hope. We could easily have said we wouldn’t launch because of lockdown, but we decided to launch because it gave people inspiration online and the pictures are really beautiful.

There are a lot of themes around motherhood, especially with daughters looking to their mothers for guidance and inspiration. Our children look up to us and they want to be like us; girls especially want to look like mommy. Spending time with them singing, playing and chatting, as well as the idea of dressing like them and them dressing like me was just another part of it all. Also, being the best that they can be or having the kind of mentorship in their lives if they don’t have a mother that inspires them and helps them. That is why Elana by Glare started ¬ to inspire people to seek out the one woman in their life they want to be like because they have so much to learn when they have good mentors in their lives.

You also love cooking. What type of food do like cooking most and why?

My love of cooking sparked the development of my meat-free recipe series online. To pair with fine food, I launched my own wine range in 2014 – Elana Wine. This boutique Shiraz range, produced in the Durbanville wine route region, went on to collect a gold Michelangelo Award.

Ian is also a busy dad and entrepreneur. How does he keep up with and make time for the family?

Ian is the best dad I can have for my family. I also have to say that COVID-19 has taught us that we can work from home and he does lots of work from home. He is close to the children’s school and fetches them from school and we make time for our family. I think that early on we learnt something valuable; that even if two days goes by where you haven’t had playtime with your children, when you do have the opportunity, put your phone away and spend time with them. What I do often is I ask them questions, as if I’m interviewing them, and will ask questions like, “What does your mommy like doing with you?” and they will say, “My mommy likes playing with me and we play dollies and Lego.”

Even though sometimes I haven’t managed to spend as much time as I want with them, what I find is that because I wasn’t on my phone or distracted when I was with them, it was really quality time and they remember that time as valuable.

When you have your children, spend time with them and really engage with them. Children just love having you around and knowing that even though you are not actually playing a game that they have your undivided attention.

How do you stay fit and healthy?

Healthy is not even a choice, it’s just what we do. We want to live a good life, we enjoy good food and red wine (I’m a wine hobbyist, I make wine), and we understand that we have to respect food and wine. I cook fairly healthy meals and there are always vegetables or salad with every meal.
I stay fit by running three times a week. I also have an indoor step machine, so on the days that I don’t run and while my children are in bed, and I will probably do 45 minutes on the step while listening to a podcast. I don’t need to be outdoors to stay fit but I think I’m very lucky I’m able to exercise and be healthy and be able to run after my children.

Elana’s favourites

Movie: I don’t have a favorite movie. I haven’t watched a movie in a long time. I had a series on TV that I really liked called ‘Hollywood’. My favorite movie that I starred in is a series called ‘Fynskrif’ that I really enjoyed. It ended in lockdown and the reason I enjoyed it is that life is actually a full circle. The people who wrote the series, Albert Snyman and Louis Pretorius, were all at school with me 20 years ago when I met my husband, so how’s that for full circle!

Music: I listen to a lot of local music and also because I work with Jacaranda FM. I play a lot of instruments and the music I play is ‘boere musiek’ and a lot of gospel because I was the pianist in church, so yes that’s the music I make.

Food: My favorite food is Indian food, Chinese food and my mother’s food.

Hobbies: I enjoy running, walking and I love making music.

Holiday destination: My favorite destination is Greece.

What I always teach my daughters: I teach them that they are my MIRACLES!

May you raise beautiful, courageous children. Always ask them for their opinions so that they feel you are collaborating with them and not just parenting them. They need to have a voice, not just in their homes, but when they are with their peers and other people.

WhatsApp chat