A true South African success story, Heather Moore of Skinny La Minx has received a global following for her beautiful textiles selling through her online store, her brick and mortar shop in Cape Town, and numerous international retailers.
Always with a sketchbook and camera in hand, she finds her inspiration through walks in her home town, Cape Town, and through her extensive travels in South Africa and abroad.
For years she has been taking photos of perforated brick, concrete and steel brise soleil structures, and these pictures have inspired her latest textile range, Brise Soleil, which incorporates three designs in cool shades of grey, rich tropical blues and fresh pale greens.
We caught up with Heather and chatted about all things from her inspirations to office life, her design style and her misguided dream of becoming a forensic pathologist.
Heather Moore, proprietor of Skinny LaMinx
What type of person are you?
Although I like to think of myself as a fairly relaxed, cheerful person, I’m also a fearful perfectionist who can’t see the point of doing something badly, which is probably a good way to describe someone who is a bit uptight. Still, I prefer the delusion that I’m easy going and good for a laugh.
When did you realise that you had an artistic flair?
I’ve always drawn pictures and enjoyed making things (and selling them, too) but when reviewing our artwork before we made a final subject selection in high school, my art teacher looked at my portfolio rather dubiously, and said that I “could give it a try”, so I did French instead.
Did you ever imagine Skinny La Minx in your future?
Not at all! I studied English and Drama in university, and then trained as a high school teacher. When I moved to Cape Town after my studies, I had vague notions of helping run a puppet theatre, but not much more of a plan than that. I fell into illustration work while doing my postgrad teacher training when I did illustrations for a textbook one of my lecturers was writing. The publishers liked my drawings, and started commissioning more and I ended up being an illustrator for 10 years.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through a prolonged stage – thanks to a TV show called Quincy – of wanting to be a forensic pathologist.
Why did you want to do that?
No idea. I’m still perplexed as to how a middle-aged man in a rumpled suit cutting up dead bodies for a living had the slightest bit of appeal to the 10-year-old me.
What is your typical day like?
We’re up at 5:30 with a cup of tea, after which I go for a run or I water the garden.
After breakfast, I walk to my studio above the shop at 201 Bree St [in Cape Town], stopping in for a cup of coffee at Jason Bakery with my husband, and I’m at my desk by 8 am like a good little worker bee.
The day starts with meetings with the team, and then a lot of emails to answer. I’ll often spend time styling and photographing things for a blog post, or for an online listing. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some time to work on some new designs too.
The end of my day is at about 6 pm when I go to yoga, or walk home, enjoying the sights along Bree and Kloof Streets.
Describe your style in a few words.
Simple, patterned, clean and clear: inspired by ordinary things.
Tell us about the name Skinny La Minx… What inspired you to name your brand?
My husband [artist, Paul Edmunds] has a skinny little Siamese cat called Monkey, and it’s a bit of a nickname for her.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I didn’t really start a business: my business sort of snuck up behind me while I was having fun blogging about things, making stuff, and learning how to try making money by selling it. I have so much admiration for people who have a vision of what they want to do and start a business from scratch. It sounds terrifyingly brave!
What do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
My inspiration comes from ordinary, everyday things like cactuses, teacups, staircases and vibracrete walls. I usually have a notebook with me where I make sketches, and I take a lot of photographs of textures, details, juxtapositions and compositions that seem to give me ideas. Follow me on Instagram at @skinnylaminx to find out what I’ve been looking at lately.
How does your creative process work?
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business, and stuck on the e-mail treadmill, so I try to put aside Fridays as my day for doing non-work-related creative work where I can simply make whatever takes my fancy. I find that the things I make in non-directed time like this are often put away for a bit, and then brought out later and built upon, when the time is right.
I like to keep a sketchbook with me, and often find that quick sketches I make on the fly end up as starting points for everything.
What advice would you give younger designers hoping to make it one day? Should they start off with a business plan?
I’ve never had a formal business plan, but here are a couple of things that have worked for me:
- A good-looking, well-designed website and a strong, authentic social media presence that helps tell your story are essential.
- Taking your own photos and learning to edit them yourself will save you a lot of money
- Being able to write good, concise press releases will help you get press
- Answering emails speedily is impressive
- Keeping good accounts and not generating debt is essential
- Finding great people to work with is the holy grail
What three things do you think make you successful?
- I have a super-organised business partner and a great team
- I’m prompt at responding to press requests, and provide good images.
- I have lots of good luck, but I try to be grateful for this by making the best I can of opportunities that present themselves
What trends do you love right now?
In South Africa, it has become very trendy to be supportive of the local design industry, which I find very exciting! For too long we looked to the Northern Hemisphere for what’s cool, but now we’re making up our own rules.
To find our more about Skinny LaMinx go to www.skinnylaminx.com or follow Heather on Instagram at @skinnylaminx