By Neo Tsiu and Dona van Eeden
(source: Skinny laMinx Insta)
The South African clothing and textile industry is set apart from other international traders by using natural, human, and technological resources. And while the South African textile industry may be small compared to other parts of the world, it is well-placed to grow its standing to compete with the top guns in the future.
One of our advantages is that the textile industry in Mzansi is characterised by a high number of small and micro-enterprises and informal operations. According to "The Textile Industry in South Africa 2018" report, sector employs more than 31,000 people, of which a high percentage is women. And a large part of the industry’s activity is concentrated in Cape Town, referred to as the Cape Clothing and Textile Cluster (CCTC).
Enter Skinny laMinx: one of the small and micro-enterprises that make up the fabric of CCTC.
Meet Skinny laMinx
Their story began in 2007 when Heather Moore, a self-taught illustrator who worked as a freelancer for 10 years, started a blog named Skinny laMinx after her skinny little Siamese cat, Monkey. Moore used this blog and the online retail site Etsy to sell her crafts and homemade textiles.
In 2011 Skinny laMinx opened the doors to a studio apartment at 201 Bree Street in Cape Town, and their doors have remained open since. Here Skinny laMinx flourished from a hobby and one-woman show to a fully grown business that employs 15 women. The business has since become a beloved lifestyle brand both home and abroad.
“The Skinny laMinx recipe was simple: Mix together a love of pattern, a cute shop, a top-notch team, and top it all off with equal parts playful and chic.”
Growth is an essential part of any business, and Skinny laMinx did not fall short on this. The team of 15 women make, design, sell, pack, and plan the product range. Each year, Moore designs a new textile collection and new fabric and paper products. Skinny laMinx fabric goods include cushions, shopping bags, table runners, napkins, tea towels, purses, and smock dresses for toddlers.
Their most recent project is The PROMENADE lifestyle collection which celebrates the everyday beauty of three mid-century architectural facades: the faceted sandstone facade of Fortuna apartments in Mouille Point; the terrazzo mural by Erik Laubscher high up on Bonne Esperance apartments at 187 Beach Road; and the meandering mosaic mural on the Sea Point public bathrooms along Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard.
Skinny laMinx Values
Although the Skinny laMinx business has grown, its values haven’t changed.
“We think our growth has a lot to do with caring about excellence, generosity, creativity and fun while doing our best to treat people and the planet right.”
The Skinny laMinx supply chain is kept intimate with all their production, screen-printing, designing, cutting, and stitching done in Cape Town by their sewing team in the studio space above their shop. They pay the same top-notch attention to quality and sustainability.
Their awareness of the importance of sustainable business manifests in their use of water-based inks and natural waste management. Skinny laMinx hates waste and puts their offcuts and scraps to good use in the business and elsewhere.
And though their main objective style and décor, quality, sustainability and teamwork are always at the heart of Skinny laMinx (source: Skinny laMinx Insta).
Skinny laMinx Collaborations
Partnerships and collaborations are essential for building a credible brand name, and Skinny laMinx is no stranger to this. Some of their very successful design collaborations include working with Chronicle Books, Cloud9 Fabrics, Heath Ceramics, and more in the pipeline.
“It’s a treat for me to work on designs outside of the Skinny laMinx brand because it gives me the freedom to play with ideas outside of what I do for my brand,” says Moore.
In 2017 Skinny laMinx collaborated with MRP Home, creating the Made in SA homewares range. This included everything from candles, to furniture, to bedding and kitchen accessories. This collaboration was touted as an all-around winner, ticking all the boxes for Skinny laMinx: locally made, fun to design, and a fun collaboration for all parties involved.
Skinny laMinx products
Skinny laMinx offers various products: Fabrics, Cushions & Pillows, Decor, Kitchen & Dining, Accessories, Kids, and Paper Goods. The online store has many helpful tools for customers, including charts to calculate how much fabric is needed before making a purchase, a colour menu to help customers find their favourite colours, online courses, and exceptional customer care.