Skinny la minx on going global
You cannot help but stare and smile as you drive past Heather Moore’s Skinny la Minx shop. Once you walk in, your eyes light up at the beautifully curated window display and merchandised tableaux. However, there’s a lot more to this multifarious space – which is referred to by the eight employees who work here as ‘Skinny la Minx’s Global HQ’ – as Heather explains…
‘We love being part of the growing community of design-led companies in Cape Town, and find the city a friendly and supportive place to do business’ – Heather Moore
‘I live just off Kloof Street in Gardens and, for years, I walked down Bree Street on the way to my previous studio in Buitengracht Street, stopping for coffee at Jason Bakery on the way. The Buitengracht Street studio space, which I’d previously shared with a couple of painters, was due to wind down at the end of 2011, and so when I saw the ‘To Let’ sign on the old scooter-repair shop half a block away from Jason Bakery and just 15 minutes from home, I leapt at the opportunity to rent it – a convenient studio address and the exciting prospect of a bricks-and-mortar shop were too good to pass up. After operating online only for some three years, we opened the doors to the Skinny la Minx storefront and studio on 13 December 2011.
We had to move fast! My architect friend Jo Anderson helped us with plans and project management, and we scraped off years of Vespa grease, built nifty storage units and had the kind loan of Danish mid-century furniture from Space For Life. We had the shop put together in just over a month, ready to open just before Christmas.
The shop, studio and stockroom were all contained in a single space, but our business was growing fast and we soon needed more room. When the boxing gym that had been above us moved out, we rented the whole top floor, and quickly grew to fill it with the design studio, meeting area and photographic node, as well as with storage space for fabric and cut stock. We rent out some of our upstairs space to a small independent CMT, which cuts and sews up some of our goods. It’s superefficient having these talented women close at hand.
Today, Skinny la Minx includes the running of two online shops, as well as a thriving wholesale business with stockists around the world. We also sell our fabric to interior decorators through our relationship with the Silk & Cotton Co. All of this needs space for stock, order preparation and staff. We also collaborate with international brands, and have done three fabric collections with US quilting company Cloud 9 Fabrics, as well as stationery collections with San Francisco-based Chronicle Books. In general, the “well-oiled machine” is all due to the strongly cooperative, hardworking and highly motivated Team Skinny la Minx!
I grew up in the 1970s on Joburg’s West Rand, and the simple, clear lines of the Swedish-style home that belonged to my mom’s best friend made a big impression on me. Later, when I had to furnish my own home (on a tight budget), this was the style of furnishing I found myself drawn to, plus, although it wasn’t yet fashionable, it was very affordable. When I started designing fabrics, I found myself creating things reminiscent of this mid-century style and the colours I’d seen in the homes of my parents and their friends and in my thrift-store hunting grounds. I still enjoy finding treasures from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s for the shop and to use as props and context for my designs in product and look-book shots.’
‘Because we’ve been so fortunate to receive a great deal of attention in the press abroad, we’re always keen to share our fortune when we can. Collaborations are a great way to do this, and also an opportunity for us to see our fabrics presented in a whole new way. It’s exciting!’ – Heather Moore
Heather’s skinny on Bree
- Skinny la Minx: skinnylaminx.com
- Jason Bakery: jasonbakery.com
- Café Frank: cafefrank.com
- Robert Sherwood Design: robertsherwooddesign.com