Excellence, transparency and kindness have been key to success

Heather Moore from Skinny laMinx has stayed true to her values as her business has grown

A few weeks ago, I looked at how difficult it is to create an eco-fashion range in South Africa (view article here). The key challenge is educating the consumer so they know what they are buying.

Heather Moore, the creative force behind much loved South African décor brand, Skinny laMinx, believes that her transparency with her clientele has played an important part in the business’s success. “People who follow Skinny laMinx can’t help but be aware that there are real people working here, and that it makes perfect sense for our personal values to be reflected in the way we do business.”

Skinny laMinx started in 2007 as a hobby when Heather started screen-printing her patterns onto fabric, just for fun. Soon, she had a business and the things she’d designed could be found in stores and homes around the globe.

The business has grown, but its values haven’t changed. Heather believes the growth and success has a lot to do with caring about excellence, generosity, creativity and fun, while doing their best to treat people and the planet right.

Visiting the Skinny laMinx site, the 5 ethics of style Heather runs her business by are listed as follows:

Local: She is a true contributor to the local economy and industry, and knows her supply chain intimately. All production is done nearby (screen-printing in Cape Town, cutting and stitching upstairs in the studio on Bree street).

Aware: Skinny laMinx fabrics are printed with water-based inks, and are printed on natural fibre base cloth.

Top notch: Quality checking is a large part of our business, from the materials that we use to the hand-checking of every Skinny laMinx finished product, to the relationships that we build.

Where we live: While we deal in matters of style and decoration, and we do believe that humans need beauty to thrive, we are very aware that for most people, food on the table and money for school shoes is a far more pressing issue.

Teamwork: Heather might get all the fanfare in the press, but nothing would happen at all, if it weren’t for her fabulous Skinny laMinx team.

I posed a few questions to Heather regarding producing a sustainable décor product offering and her take on how South Africans are starting to question where the items they buy are made.

LS: In your opinion, are South African consumers adopting a more sustainable approach to the items they buy, and how far behind or on track do you think we are?

Heather: I think that on the whole, having the choice to modify consumer behaviour based on a product’s level of sustainability is something that people at the upper end of the market have the privilege of considering. I think a lot of people’s buying habits are very much dictated by what is affordable to their budget.

LS: How challenging has it been for Skinny laMinx — especially when you were establishing your business — to get your positioning across and for your customers to understand they are investing in an item?

HM: I think that perhaps I was fortunate when I started Skinny laMinx that there was a growing interest in handmade goods, entrepreneurship and buying local, so people have never seemed to be confused by the fact that other mass retailers sell things a lot cheaper than I do. I also think that people genuinely like my designs, and felt they were buying something they couldn’t find just anywhere.

LS: Has there been resistance or do your clientele actually understand they are paying for an item that has been created with the end users and the team who actually produce your items in mind i.e. they do not work in harsh conditions and have a skill that has been honed to produce a superior product that is visible to the end user and kind to the planet?

HM: The growth of this business over the last 10 years has pretty much been due to social media, and consequently there has always been a high degree of transparency around the way we design and make things. People who follow Skinny laMinx can’t help but be aware that there are real people working here, and that it makes perfect sense for our personal values to be reflected in the way we do business.

Given our retail neighbourhood, the press coverage we’re given, and that our business has been around for years, I think we are well positioned to have the prices we do. Occasionally, we have someone in the shop who thinks it’s a bit expensive, but it doesn’t happen often.

LS: What lead you to this point and any additional thoughts you’d like to share on this topic?

HM: The seat of my pants is what lead me to a certain point, and then the focused application of goals, systems and our teams’ best work have all taken us further, along with the endlessly kind, interested and enthusiastic press and buying public, both in South Africa and across the world, who continue to promote and buy the things we make.

To shop the Skinny laMinx range, and for more information on how Heather started and grew her business, please visit www.skinnylaminx.com or follow her beautiful feed on Instagram — @skinnylaminx