Inspiring magical childhood journeys with caring stories and handcrafted toys

Who is James? And why I dedicated my first book to him!

Who is James? And why I dedicated my first book to him!

Today, exactly 10 years ago, on 27 September 2008, I met my husband, James, for the very first time! It seems like the 27th of September is a very auspicious date in my life, as the arrival of my first book is also imminent – I am expecting a call from the printers today or tomorrow!

Allow me to tell you a bit more about my husband James, and why I dedicated my first book to him. James has been instrumental in supporting and encouraging me to build my career to where I am today – doing work that truly fulfils me and gives me so much joy.

My first book is dedicated to my husband, JamesDreaming together

When I met him 10 years ago, I was still fairly uncertain of exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I had studied for a very long time but didn’t want to stay in academia. I had tried a number of different and varied jobs, but without fail, I always got bored after about 3 months!

James is a dreamer and a visionary, and together we started dreaming about all of the things we would like to do. During long walks on the beach, with our first dog, Jasper, we would talk about our dreams and how we could achieve them.

In 2009, when James and I had been dating for about a year, I did a course in children’s book illustration. I LOVED it – but it felt like a very unrealistic dream to make such a huge career change. My background was in philosophy, and had nothing to do with art or children – or so it felt at the time.

Even though I dreamed of writing and illustrating my own picture books “one day” – I thought that this dream might be a little crazy.

But nothing sounded too crazy to this wonderful man. He encouraged me to hone my illustration skills, and so, for the next three years, I drew pictures every opportunity I got! I even did the illustration and design for our wedding invitation in 2011!

Working together

By 2012 I felt ready to quit my job and start my own business, and that was the beginning of Fairy Caravan! By this time James had already started his own web design and development agency.

Only two dreamers like us could have thought that it would be a good idea for us both to quit our jobs and for each of us to start our own business – at the same time! We’ve had some crazy times together – and financially, it has been really really tough. I would definitely not recommend this to any couple starting out in business today.

And yet, there were lots of advantages to sharing the ups and downs of entrepreneurial life together. James and I could support each other exactly because we knew how difficult it was to make a fledgeling business work. 

Slowly but surely, things started to fall into place and to actually work. James’ business has become successful enough to start supporting his next dream, using his skills and knowledge to help and educate the next generation.

Just over 6 years after quitting our day jobs, I feel immensely proud to say that we’ve started to thrive as entrepreneurs. Together we have overcome many difficulties, both personal and in business, and we have celebrated many successes and joyful moments together too! And guess what? I’ve not been bored once since starting this business!

Celebrating together

I often marvel at the amazing ways in which the world works. 10 Years ago it felt like a crazy dream to combine my passion for art and storytelling with my background in philosophy. And yet, this past weekend, I attended a conference at the University of Cape Town where we discussed (amongst other subjects) childhood, and different stories about childhood, philosophically. It was wonderful to meet academics, teachers and people working in education in a variety of different ways, and to see how what I am doing fits into this context too.

James has shown me that the world works to support you if you start moving in the direction of your dreams.

I can’t wait to celebrate the arrival of my first book with my wonderful husband, and I look forward to discovering new dreams and making them a reality with this amazing man by my side!


  1. Luan Koorts on September 27, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    What a lovely post and I am excited about your first book with you. Well done for persevering! xx

    • Liesl van der Hoven on October 1, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Dear Luan,

      I am so glad you enjoyed the post and thank you so much for being excited with me! The book will be ready any day now! xx

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