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Kirsty Barclay

We interview Kirsty Barclay, founder of Motaki Furniture Collective – a hand-up artisanal initiative empowering the local craftspeople of Maun in Botswana – and wife to John Barclay, a third generation bushman and safari leader at Jack’s Camp, and founder of Barclay Stenner Luxury Safari Expeditions.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself...

I live in the small safari town of Maun, in rural Botswana, with my safari-guide husband, John Barclay, and our three fur-babies; Millie, Morris and Milligan. I am the founder of the Motaki Furniture Collective. We engage with local craftsmen and women in and around Maun to create  some incredible pieces. The word ‘Motaki’ in the local language,  Setswana, means ‘artisan’. My aim was to form a space where these raw local talents can come together and create confident, quality pieces that are their own, while (with the direction that my background in styling provides) also highly covetable to wider and international markets. Buying artisan-made luxury furniture pieces empowers the local craftsmen and women, and helps develop the economy of the safari town of Maun – a place that’s now my heart and home. Creating ‘Luxury with a Conscience’.

What defines home for you ?

Home is the stillness in where we live along the banks of the Thamalakane River and the perfect place to regroup and reconnect to oneself after a stressful (and in Maun often stiflingly hot) day!

Who or what do you turn to when you have had a bad day ?

Yoga and meditation.

Tell us about your Health + Wellness journey...

My yoga journey started about 10 years ago, while I was living out in the Makgadikgadi Salt Flats in the Kalahari Managing – a luxury safari camp. Days were hectic and stressful with a lot of running around, and so yoga became my way of tuning out and settling myself down. I ordered David Swenson’s Ashtanga First Series DVD and taught myself, so it is an incredible and deeply personal practice. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever practised.

Where is your favourite Health + Wellness destination ?

On my verandah at my home in Maun. Out in the open plains of the savannah after a day of safari on horseback.

What is your daily / weekly Health + Wellness routine ?

Getting up before sunrise and getting in position on my verandah to start my yoga practice and meditation as the sun rises, followed by quick run with my dog. I try to eat vegan 90% of the time, as it seems to suit my body better… A glass of red wine at sunset keeps my endorphins tingling and helps me to relax.

I believe in Karma and that whatever you put out in the universe will come back to you. I set intentions every day and try and visualise my future. Living in Botswana and watching the magic of nature everyday lifts my spirits automatically… I do not know how others do it in the city.

What are your Health + Wellness essentials ?

Botane Skin Actives are an entirely clean, science-driven botanical skin care line. I particularly love their Peptide Crème. I discovered Elephas on IKIGAI and absolutely love it. When it comes to nutrition; fresh fruit and vegetables, and avocado smoothies on the weekend.

What is your go-to health food ?

Hummus and veggie sticks.

What is your devilish indulgence ?

Coconut date balls and cheese.

What is your favourite yoga position ?

Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend / Upavistha Konasana – I love hip openers in general; they open up emotions in a really healthy and positive way.

What makes you laugh ?

You mean who… my hubby John constantly has me in stitches ! Laughter keeps us together, I think a man who constantly surprises you is pure magic – as I know it will last forever.

What do you fear ?

I hate letting people down, especially the less fortunate, yet incredibly talented, craftsmen and women that have so much know-how and skills but struggle to survive. I cannot stand injustice.

How do you find serenity ?

Yoga and meditation every single day. Living in the bush surrounded by animals and nature helps too.

What is it about IKIGAI Global that appeals to you ?

I love that everything related to health and wellness can be found in one spot and that is engages in creating a community around a healthy lifestyle.

What is the one book that has helped you discover your path and yourself ?

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho.

What has been the hardest thing to accept ?

That life is largely uncontrollable, and finding patience within that.

How, what and why have you changed over the last 10 years ?

My eating habits and what I put not only onto my body, but what I put into it too. Spiritually I hope that I am constantly changing and evolving.

How, what and why have you changed over the last 10 years ?

My eating habits and what I put not only onto my body, but what I put into it too. Spiritually I hope that I am constantly changing and evolving.

What do you do to make the world a more sustainble place ?

Working with local communities to create luxury furniture pieces that are their own, whilst facilitating a greater market place for these incredibly talented people.

Do you have a good luck charm ?

A necklace that a dear friend Abi James, owner and creator of Soul Design made for me, which is stamped with ‘Good & Vibes’ – a complete accident as it was supposed to read ‘Good Vibes’. We laughed for hours about this little accident and now it always makes me laugh and puts me in a better mood if I am feeling a little low. It’s my good luck charm because it provides me with positive energy.

Who or what inspires you ?

My family. All of whom are incredibly hard working and driven people with great resilience and passion in everything they do.

What is your mantra ?

Be rested, rooted and resilient.

And finally, what is your ikigai ?

As cheesy as it sounds… Balance in all areas of life from exercise and healthy eating, to letting loose and splashing out.
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