We love love! And we especially love all the beautiful stories of those that pass through Dear Rae. In anticipation for the day of Love, we reached out to local brand owners, Alex and Corban for all the details on their engagement, the ring, and how Coal Interiors came to be. 

Tell us about your love story, and how you two met?  

Alex: We actually went to school together but he was a year below me so I never really took notice of him. We always had each other on social media and one day he posted about his new kitten, me being a cat lover commented on how it was the cutest thing I had ever seen. This sparked Corban to post waaay more photos of his kitten. 

We got to chatting and he proceeded to ask me out for a coffee which is a love language of mine. One thing that stuck out to me was how kind he was to everyone and everything around him. He also has this amazing ability to tell a story with so much detail that hours can go by in a blink of an eye. 

After a month of dating he asked me to be his girlfriend through a letter/poem he wrote and of course I said yes. We have been inseparable ever since. 

Why did you choose Dear Rae? 

Corban: Everything that Dear Rae produces is absolute gold (pun intended)! So I had full confidence that they could help bring my idea to life. Alex loves clean, simple design as much as I do and it is a language that Dear Rae speaks so well. With us owning Coal Interiors it only made sense to choose another local brand for this huge surprise. 

The whole design process and communication with everyone involved made the whole proposal experience that much better. We cannot wait to do it again with the wedding bands! 

Corban, talk us through the design you chose.

Corban: I knew roughly what Alex liked but I took a bit of a gamble and threw it all out the window. I wanted to not only give her a ring that was unique but it was also designed and made with a piece of myself. We love traveling to Europe in winter so the inspiration came from a snowflake. Every snowflake (although always different) has a nucleus and 6 surrounding arms that make up its shape. So this ring has one center diamond with six smaller diamonds surrounding it. I chose to go with diamonds as I love the story of how a mineral that has taken thousands of years to naturally develop now lives with her forever.

As local designers in the South African industry, we would love to know more about your journey with Coal Interiors together. What is it like working with your partner everyday and how did Coal come about? 

Alex: We moved into our first home together not long after we first started dating and we realised that there wasn’t much furniture out there that was both thoughtfully designed or that wasn’t going to completely break the bank. We wanted to bridge that gap to allow young adults like ourselves to be able to own beautifully and sustainably made furniture. With Corbans degree in industrial design and my background in design and marketing, we created Coal. It’s been a wild journey and three years later we are so proud of the company we have built. 

The dynamic between us is very relaxed, we both know our strengths within the business. The key is to constantly communicate in a calm and respectful way and to remind each other often that it’s meant to be fun. We are very blessed to be building something great that allows us to provide for ourselves and for others. 

How was the engagement? Was it a big surprise or did Alex have an idea of what was coming? 

Corban: The engagement was truly magical! I had been in cahoots with Bochendal who were amazing at helping me plan the whole thing. I proposed to her in the rose garden in front of the old Manor House at sunset. 

She honestly had no idea. I LOVE surprising her so the plan was to act like I wasn’t ready for marriage meanwhile I was busy designing the ring and planning the proposal. We had had the conversation a couple months earlier and I let her know that it wasn’t happening any time soon, I even got her a Dear Rae bangle as a sort of promise and to be patient with me. Needless to say, she was completely shocked when I handed her a letter/poem similar to the one I have given her previously and got down on one knee.