Kayli Vee Levitan is a Durbanite, living in Cape Town. (So yes, she says “faaaish” instead of “fish”.) She works in advertising by day, is a foodblogger by night, and runs a charity between it all.
A copywriter at M&C Saatchi Abel, Levitan and her collegue, Max Pazak, founded The Street Store last year. It is the world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free “pop-up clothing store” for the homeless, found entirely on the street and stocked by donations.
“We decided to go open-source with the idea, because homelessness is not just a South African issue. We’ve since had over 200 Street Stores pop up globally, clothing an estimated 200 000 homeless people,” adds Levitan. “I love helping people; advertising met charity in the form of The Street Store.” Levitan also co-owns The Foodblog Group, which runs in Cape Town, Durban and Joburg.
“It sounds bizarre, but waitressing taught me how to speak to people; foodblogging (and the events that come with it) taught me to be comfortable in any situation; and advertising taught me how to pick up on interesting insights. These three things combined have made me who I am.”
Levitan sees advertising as a problem-solving industry, a place where she can find creative, insightful solutions to her clients’ problems. So why not use those skills to try make the world a better place? “I had to overcome the fear that The Street Store would never work, just by trying. It’s changed the way that I approach things — worrying will get you nowhere.”
Continuously inspired by the people around her and their experience, Levitan has managed to pick up what she calls “little insights” from others. For her, it is the things you may never have realised yourself that allow you to create something different, something new, something meaningful.
“Every year, through M&C Saatchi Abel, I try and tackle a different segment of society in need in South Africa. I’ve worked with Dementia SA and the Women’s Hope, Education and Training Trust, and now The Haven Night Shelter. Who knows, what’s next? But I am excited to figure it out.”