Pet Prints Mag
On Peace, Purpose
& her Awesome Pups
Article originally appeared in
Pet Prints March 2019 Edition
One individual who has made it her life’s mission to break the cycle of “normal” is Petra Laranjo, an author, philanthropist and corporate image consultant who is hell-bent on getting the message out there that life is meant to be LIVED! One of the projects headed by Petra is that of #justonething365 where she encourages individuals to do just one good thing per day to create a wave of wellbeing across the globe.
It’s a brilliant idea if you think of it. With roughly 50 million people living in South Africa (this is a very rough figure) let’s say half of those people contribute to one act of kindness per day for a year. That would bring about a staggering 9 billion acts of kindness!!! Can you imagine what we would achieve by doing this? South Africa would be a completely different place.
That said, we wanted to find out more about the woman behind this initiative and we wanted to learn more about he four-legged “girls” of course!
Please tell us about yourself. Where you grew up and what moulded you into the individual you are today.
Goodness. We moved A LOT during my schooling, because of my dad’s work so 7 schools later, as an only child, very shy introvert and the perpetual ‘new girl’ in class, I forced myself out of my shell. It was either that or blushing a bright shade of pomegranate all day long which was too painful and embarrassing in itself.
The pro of nomadic living was that I learned to adapt to new people – friends and teachers, surrounding and cultures quickly. This definitely helped me embrace change and innovative thinking while enjoying my own company.
The flipside was that I was repeatedly saying good-bye to friends so the only consistent friendship I had was my first dog, Slipper. He was my best friend and loyal confidante! Slipper knew about my first love, first kiss, and heartbreak way before my mom did! I was broken when we lost him. I love you, sweet boy.
I must credit my mom and dad for their generous and giving natures – it definitely influenced me and means that everything I do – personally and in business – has a social impact angle to it. It’s part of who I am and I’m very grateful for that.
What inspired you to write a book and mentor women and young girls?
I believe that we each have a story to tell and that through that story, we can help others overcome what we did. While in corporate, I found that so many people around me were stuck in an unfulfilling rut – personally and in their careers – and were living uninspired lives.
I had also lost myself in an emotionally abusive relationship – one that had influenced my confidence and self-worth to such a limiting degree. I came out of it stronger when I connected with my self-worth and image – internally and externally. I started loving myself, my body and my life again. It was one of the most empowering and life-changing transformations and I wanted to help other women and young girls move through that. I want to help women ‘Find Their Beautiful’ © again.
Things really ignited exponentially when I connected with my Purpose. My Purpose is what fuels me, what helps me get up after been beaten down, what keeps me optimistic, energised and inspired to create and deliver work that is fulfilling and impactful.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Is ‘taking over the world’ a cliché? I’m building a global platform that inspires and equips people to live fulfilled and inspired lives of impact through my YOUTUBE channel *currently under construction*, by hosting local lifestyle events, traveling as an international inspirational speaker, by helping people through my current book ‘Living On Purpose. The Key To Change Your Life And Impact Others’, future books and by making a differing through our NPO JustOneThing365 (Reg. 2018 / 335569 / 08).
Tell us about your clan, you are a tight little family unit, who inspire us daily on Instagram.
Thank you for your kind words. I’m really #blessed (seriously) with an incredible soul I married. Craig and I have each other’s backs, personally, in business and with JustOneThing365.
Craig (professional name Craig Hawks) has been my rock – he’s a professional actor, photographer, and film-maker and has supported e-v-e-r-y JustOneThing365 campaign we’ve done! You have to check out the #InOurSkins and #HomeForTheHolidays campaign pics on Instagram.
Our girls are the apples of our eyes and we’re so grateful that they chose us as their mom and dad. They’re hilarious and keep us mindful and grounded and have so much love to give. That’s rescued dogs for you! #proudrescuedogmom #proudrescuedogdad Craig adopted Mary-Jane, from the Booysens SPCA, one and a half years before I met him. MJ and I bonded quickly and it was the most rewarding experience when she ‘adopted’ me as her mom, shortly after. She is the gentlest, most affectionate and sweet girl. She’s never been to puppy school but is incredibly well mannered, walks off lead next to us, is quick to listen and respond – apparently these are traits of Africanis dogs.
We then decided that MJ needed a friend so, after driving past Wetnose Animal Rescue one day, we made a U-turn, said hello to all 300 dogs over 3 hours and adopted a terrified, timid and broken-spirited little Africanis-mix girl, called Tammy, who had been burnt, with an iron, on her back. Although Tammy was very shy initially she has blossomed into a spunky, confident, cheeky and energetic but incredibly affectionate girl who is highly empathetic and picks up and responds to on our energies quickly.
We met PETS JHB (Pet Empowerment In Township Rescue) at a market in 2014/2015 and I started following them on FB and started supporting them in various capacities. At the launch event for my book, I committed to raise R100 000 of funds, PR and donated goods for them. (Thanks to my incredible network of brand partners, supporters, friends and personal donations, I managed to raise over R200 000 – in funds, PR and donations – in just over a year). I saw a dog who had been surrendered to PETS JHB, by her owner, to be euthanized, because she was apparently old and sick. PETS’ vet determined that was just badly malnourished and neglected so they decided to give her a second chance at life, even though she looked like an older dog, and networked her on FB in search of a foster.
We decided to foster Jess (formerly known as Tigger). Jess, unfortunately, needed a lot of rehabilitation and cried in pain for a good few weeks until we, together with the vet, were able to manage her pain. She took a long time to settle in as she had some food aggression towards our girls at the time. She struggled to connect with us – she clearly had never known affection from humans, had never consistently had water nor food.
After 2 failed attempts at finding Jess a home, we decided to adopt her and announced it at my book launch event. It really made the event even more special by sharing it with her and being able to share her story and further reinforce the message to #adoptdontshop
Something in her changed that day. Perhaps it was our energy after saying that we’d decided to adopt her, but she started to connect with us a little bit that evening.
Are there any plans to grow your family, or is the coach full?
The coach will never be full enough (of rescue dogs) but for now, we’re a happy family unit of 5. We want to keep adopting dogs – the ones that get overlooked, need the most TLC and patience to rehabilitate. Hopefully one day, please Lord, when we own an island we’ll be able to have a sanctuary and do just that. (Just putting it out there Sir Richard Branson.)
Share your vision for #JustOneThing365 with us.
Ah, this is so exciting! We registered the NPO in June 2018 and, as a start-up, we’ve had 8 incredible months of memorable and impactful campaigns and events. We’ve grown exponentially and are eternally grateful to the visionary brands, businesses, ambassadors and media platforms who have aligned with us. We love our incredible tribe!
Our vision for the future is to increase our impact and influence globally, so we’re looking at strategic and purposeful PR & Marketing collaborations while continuing to inspire our growing tribe to inspire their tribe to do just one thing, 365 days a year to make a difference in the lives of human, animals and our planet.
Although JustOneThing365 is an NPO, we want to be self-sustainable so that we’re not relying on donations. Financially, I’ve personally supported JustOneThing365 so, to level up, I’m expanding my services and product offerings in my socially purposed company *watch this space* to better support our NPO’s mandate #fortheanimals #forhumanity #fortheplanet.
I’ve got no choice but to keep leveling-up in order to live my Purpose. I know that I was born to be a voice for the voiceless and to help people to live fulfilled lives of impact so, although it’s been a highly stressful journey (just ask Craig), my heart and soul are happy, I’m fulfilled and thriving – that’s what life’s ultimately about, right?
From a publication that’s trying to make a difference, we couldn’t agree with you more, Petra! What a wonderful role-model you are!
Credits – Photographer: Emma O’Brien; Hair: Matthew Mansoor; Make-Up: Flawless By Donique