Did you know, I never actually intended to open a shop? It was just that my dusty painter’s studio on Buitengracht Street was about to be demolished, and I spotted a To Let sign in the window of a grubby scooter repair shop on Bree St, while on my way to my favourite coffee spot. This semi-deserted street, mostly inhabited by brakepad fitment centres and tyre replacement stores, with the bonus of a hole-in-the-wall rotisserie chicken shop and a tiny bakery called Jason’s seemed like a great place to have a studio…. with maybe a bit of space in the front for a little showroom.
Almost 6 years later, and Bree Street is a completely different place. It’s all over the glossy airline magazines, clutched in the hands of tourists fresh from the airport, and reeking with hipster coffee, bacon, kombucha and more. Tottering ladies with designer dogs stalk the sidewalks, and glossy-bearded men pace the pavements, mobile phones to ear. Skinny laMinx is a completely different place too. Our production studio takes up the whole top floor, we have 15 people working away to keep it all going, and our unintended storefront is on the must-see list of shops for visitors from Stockholm and Stellenbosch alike.
I’ve been in a reflective mood lately, and so I took a whizz back through the shop pics on my Instagram feed, putting together a very truncated potted history of the Skinny laMinx shop at 201 Bree Street:
2012 – It was our first year of trading, and we had so much to learn about keeping a shop, while also trying to do production, run a shop online and employ more people than we’d ever done before. Shop windows were a new monthly challenge to add to the To Do list, and while we’ve pretty much managed a new one each month for the last 6 years, this spectacular window by then shop manager Jess Suter to celebrate Springtime might be an all-time favourite!
See more shop windows from the early days here.
2013 – When we moved in, the space upstairs from the shop was a boxing studio, with one Rhianna CD played at full volume, while the tick-tick-tick of skipping ropes sounded above our heads. When the boxers moved out (whew!), we were in desperate need of more space so we bit the bullet and took on an additional lease upstairs. Part of the new space included this rather bleak, silver-painted rooftop.
Little did we know that it might inspire a future fabric design (more about this below).
The first thing we did with our new upstairs space was to hand it over to our favourite animator, Jeremy Collins, who put together a spectacular stop-motion animation, telling the story of how the Skinny laMinx shop came about.
Watch Jeremy’s animation here.
2014 – This was the year that Cape Town was named World Design Capital, and we embraced it wholeheartedly, installing a giant yellow dot on the front of the shop for the year. Nobody’s going to put you on the map, right? If you want to be on it, make sure you put yourself there!
We made a lovely shop window too.
2016 – The year kicked off with an Open Streets event on Bree Street, and despite the scorching heat, we had so much fun creating the Skinny Photo Studio, where people could put on jackets made up of our prints, and ‘disappear’ into the background.
See more #skinnyphotostudio pics here.
So, the shop’s ticking along so well, I even have time to take ceramics classes. . . I know! Why not throw myself an exhibition? In May last year, we had a lot of fun putting on an exhibition of the peculiar ceramics I’d been making, along with the textile print called Oddjects that they inspired.
See more of my ceramics here.
2017 – We started the year feeling pretty grown up, and our once-bleak rooftop garden blossomed in agreement, as we launched the Roof Garden fabric print, inspired by all the shapes and shadows of my growing succulent collection.
Follow the evolution of the #skinnyroofgarden on Instagram
There are LOTS more pics of the history of the Skinny laMinx shop at 201 Bree St on Instagram, under the hashtag #skinnylaminxshop, and I’ve been looking through them, feeling so proud of all we’ve done, all we’ve learned, and how many people have enjoyed passing through our beautiful front entrance along the way.
Thank you to everyone who has visited and supported us.
But biggest thanks must go to the brilliant Skinny laMinx team, who put their best into ALL the work – sweeping floors, cutting fabric, helping customers, polishing windows, stitching, photographing, editing, rolling and thinking and planning our joint passage through the last six years together. What a privilege it has been to work with such a team!
All this reflectiveness is no coincidence: We’ve been packing up and planning for months now, in anticipation of a big shop renovation, due to start (if all goes according to plan) on 28 August, and opening again in early-to-mid september.
Never fear though, as the Skinny laMinx online shop is always open, delivery charges are at their lowest ever, and we’ll all be upstairs, twiddling our thumbs, hoping that you’ll keep us busy packing your online order.