After 10 years of freelancing, self-taught illustrator Heather Moore gets lonely and gets a half day job writing comics, where she discovers the Internet, blogs, and Etsy’s online marketplace.
Eventually, she can no longer contain her enthusiasm for pattern so she rents a studio on Cape Town’s Long Street and starts making papercuts and patterns inspired by everyday things and midcentury style, which she screenprints onto fabric.
Heather starts a blog – named Skinny laMinx after her skinny little siamese cat, Monkey – and an Etsy shop too, where she starts selling her simple, clear screenprinted tea towels and hand-cut fridge magnets.
Sales are going well, and Heather moves to a bigger studio. Professionals are doing the printing and stitching all around Cape Town, while she makes the designs and runs the business. Then everything is ramped up a notch or ten when Skinny laMinx gets its first major wholesale order from Heath Ceramics in Sausalito, California.
By 2009 the business is so busy with retail and wholesale orders that Heather quits her comics-writing job. Her husband Paul tells us it is a very, very intense time.
When we opened our shop in 2012, we made this super-cute stop-motion animation telling our story.
Out of the blue, Pearl Thompson offers her services as a level-headed production and business manager. Heather grabs her tight and won’t let go. With Pearl’s help, Skinny laMinx soon starts to look a little less like an out-of-control hobby, and more like a viable business.
There are issues. Big ones: landlords are demolishing the painters studio and Pearl is moving to Paris. But then Heather rents an oil-covered scooter shop on Bree Street, just a short walk away from her home, without a clue that she’s just made a super lucky find / brilliantly strategic move.
Within a year of moving into the space at 201 Bree Street, Skinny laMinx has to lease the floor above the shop too, where a team of cutters and seamstresses is working like mad to fulfil wholesale, online and retail orders. The rest of Bree Street is starting to flourish, with a new venture opening its doors every couple of weeks. We love it here!
After two years abroad, Pearl returns to Cape Town. The team has grown to include a wholesale side, a marketing department, and a dedicated online store manager. Heather is delighted with all this help, because now she’s got loads more time to design and make things, which is why she started it all in the first place.
The shop is five years old! Some things haven’t changed – Heather still lives a short walk from the shop, and Pearl is back in Paris again – but Skinny laMinx has changed a lot. Now there’s a team of 20 women in the Cape Town store and studio, making, designing, selling, packing and planning, and the business has become a beloved brand both home and abroad.
And the moral of the story? Businesses named after cats are guaranteed to thrive.