Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied
Mami Wata, the new Cape Town-based brand, has a distinctly African flavour, building things to last and dedicated to all things surf – from apparel, to boards and accessories. The name Mami Wata comes from West African pidgin English, meaning Mama Water. Co-founder Nick Dutton tells us about opening their first store in Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap.
How did your business start?
With a conversation on Kommetjie beach with an old friend. It ended with the idea that the world needed a global African surf brand. We phoned another friend, renowned designer Peet Pienaar, and got him on board. It took a year to really crystallise the brand and products. Then another year to get the business set up and products made. We launched in April last year.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
This is our first store and we wanted it to be in a building that told a story and be also in an interesting area of town. We weren’t specifically looking at the Bo-Kaap but knew when we saw the store it could be a great place for us. We’re an African surf brand that manufactures all of its products in Africa. The store had to be part of that story. Co-founder Andy Davis’ first surfboard was a Rose Street single fin, made just down the road from our store.
How did you find your premises?
A friend told us about it. He was thinking of renting it, but then didn’t. We were actually looking for something smaller, but sometimes you have to take the leap.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
The space allows us to showcase our full range of apparel and boards, and to have a small coffee bar inside selling our Congo Black coffee. It’s also a heritage building with a beautiful stone wall (said to be one of the oldest in Cape Town) and wooden floors.
Who are your neighbours?
The Rose Street cafe, Bo-Op selling some great African-designed and -made products), Harvest Cafe, Deluxe Coffee, chicken dealers and samosa sellers. All bases are covered!
What are the rental prices like in this area?
We’ve got a fair rent for the space. Our landlord loves the brand and has been supportive.
How many people visit your business each day?
It depends on whether it’s raining and if it’s in season. On a busy day in season, we can have as much as 150 people visiting the store. At first, it was tourists exploring the Bo-Kaap, but now more locals are also coming through as they know where we are.
Do you have any expansion plans?
Yes! Maybe another store in Cape Town.
Do you operate online as well?
As a business, we’re as much e-commerce as we are bricks and mortar retail.
What’s your most popular item?
Our most popular item is our Tofo surf trunks.
082 890 7355