Discovering Mungo Design a few months ago was like love at first sight. I mean what’s not love? From their INSANE range of throws and blankets to their unique flat weave towels and baby products, there is certainly no shortage of creative flair when it comes to this cutting-edge textile company.
Truth is they were number one on my list to approach for our Ultimate Master Bedroom Collab and when I got a reply saying they were keen to work with me I was over the moon to say the least! What was even better was that they were keen to showcase their beautiful Bukuba throw which is the one I secretly had my eye on. And it was the perfect addition to our bedroom!
Let’s get to know this exquisite brand a little bit better shall we? I have to say this has to be one of my favourite Q&A’s yet! ♥
1. How was your business/brand born and how long have you been running?
Mungo was founded in 1998 by Master Weaver Stuart Holding.
Stuart developed a passion for textiles in his formative years. After finishing school he went on to do a 5 year apprenticeship at the weaving mills of Yorkshire which cultivated a lifelong love for weaving. Afterwards he caught a ship to South Africa where weaving technicians were in hot demand. Fed up with industry and conventional ways of doing things he built a loom in the lounge, learnt to spin and started weaving curtains and jackets for a clientele who liked his hands on approach. This was the 70′s and the Craft Revolution was gaining momentum (he even experimented with weaving dog hair collected from doggy parlours).
Opportunities arose on the glorious Garden Route so everything including wife and 2 dogs were squeezed into a tiny rusty car and a new adventure began.
Securing the lease on a wonderful old trading store, called Old Nick, on the edge of the N2 highway he began teaching the local people to spin and weave.
Stuart was gifted two Hattersely looms which had been abandoned in a shed in Johannesburg. Carefully, one loom was resurrected from the working parts of both, and this is where Mungo began. Since then Stuart has accumulated a small collection of looms from different eras and developed Mungo’s wide range of products. The business became an expression of Stuart’s own brand of skill, philosophy and aesthetic.
Mungo is now a family run business as Stuart’s two children have come on board. His son Dax is the Managing Director in Plettenberg Bay, Dax’s wife Kristyn is in charge of the wholesale department, whilst his daughter Tessa heads up the marketing and has recently opened a store and micro mill in Cape Town CBD.
2. Tell us a bit about your brand and business ethos.
We are particular about sourcing only quality natural fibre. Fair trade principles and transparency underpin our ethos, whilst striving to preserve the traditional art of weaving. We take responsibility for inception of design right through to the finished product – a process that is becoming increasingly rarer.
The globalized world has become a place where the end product becomes entirely disconnected from the manufacturing process. At Mungo, we are constantly trying to bridge this gap. In fact we are taking transparency a step further by building a brand new weaving mill next to our flagship store in Plettenberg Bay. It will be an interactive production facility, open to the public and our customers will be able to see and experience the entire manufacturing process first hand.
3. How would you describe your style and what is your signature product?
Timeless yet contemporary. Functional, quality products that are made to last.
We have become well known for our Flat Weave Towels. Made from 100% natural fibres they are highly absorbent, quick drying, versatile, eco- friendly (due to low bulk) and compact for traveling. The range is quite extensive with different weaves and designs. Each style has a unique personality – everyone at Mungo has their favourite.
Our 100% linen bedding is also a great product. We are proud to be one of just a handful of linen weavers in South Africa.
4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
We are not driven by world trends. Over the years Stuart has gained a deep knowledge of fibre and weaving and this has become a driving force in the business
Often new designs are inspired by traditional weaving patterns from Stuarts library of historic pattern books. The patterns are tweaked and colors experiment with to give our fabrics modern look.
Recently, at Mungo, we have been working on a new African range, which has been inspired by the colors of our natural landscape and designs from traditional African textiles that have been collected from travels.
5. What have been some of the greatest highlights on your journey this far?
One of the highlights has been opening our own stores. The most recent being in Cape Town. The fact that we are producers and retailers is a really rewarding feeling. You can see all the work that goes into making each product and then you also get to see the appreciation from every customer.
Mungo is growing every year and trade shows have been an important part of that growth. Getting such a positive response from people at trade shows has been very rewarding. We have been to both New York and Paris and are starting to gain more and more international recognition for what we are doing.
6. What have been some of your greatest challenges?
With the level of global competition today, when you start a business in South Africa, you’re also competing with mass produced imports that are cheaper due to their economies of scale. Another challenge is that South Africa is relatively geographically remote, which makes access to international markets more challenging.
Due to South Africa’s declining textile industry we often have suppliers closing down which forces us to look for and start new relationships with dye houses and spinning plants. We are also constantly looking for ways to become more self-sufficient.
7. How do you keep up with trends while still remaining true to your personal style?
In South Africa, and across the globe, we are seeing a trend to buy locally, ethically-made, natural products. People are becoming more aware of how important it is to support sustainable, fair trade businesses. So in that respect we are bang on trend.
In general, our designs are either timeless classics or very unique and not simply influenced by global trends.
8. What do you want your customers to feel when they have purchased something from your store? What will they know when purchasing something from you.
The Mungo story is an important part of our products. We hope that that story comes across in all of our stores. In Plett we have the working weaving museum (and soon-to-open new mill). In Cape Town we have a micro mill below the shop where we weave a small range. We hope that our customers leave with a little more knowledge of the process behind the piece.
9. How do you juggle family/personal life while still looking after your business?
The fact that we have a ‘family business’ does come with its challenges, but most importantly a deep underlying trust and common goal that we want it to succeed. We have become conscious not to talk business around the dinner table and give ourselves more structure to leave work at work. But of course it is difficult when we are all so deeply invested in it. Dax and Tessa often joke that Mungo is the 3rd rebellious sibling!
10. Where can we find you?
Online store: Free shipping in South Africa.
Old Nick Village, N2
022 533 1395
78 Hout Street, CBD
021 201 2374
44 Stanley, Milpark
061 188 5143
How badly do you want this gorgeous Bakuba throw to snuggle under this winter? Come enter our amazing Master Bedroom Makeover competition where this throw is included in a R23 000 GIVEAWAY with 14 other brands. All you need to do is click here and follow the easy steps at the end of the post. 3 days left to go!!!