Words: Zena le Roux; Images: Supplied
Mia Mae is a small start-up company that sells baby and kids accessories. All the products are proudly South African and locally sourced. Owner, Surina Richards, tells us more.
Tell us about your business.
Mia Mae is a small start-up company that I started in October 2016, and launched in February 2017. I make beautiful hand-made bows for girls and I also have two wonderful women working with me, making crochet and hand-knit bonnets and blankets. It started off as bows for babies, but now we make bows for toddlers, pre-schoolers and moms. Everything is handmade and made on order, all products and materials are locally sourced and proudly South African.
Why baby accessories? Where did the inspiration come from to start the business?
I got retrenched from my company two months before the birth of our first born. We decided that I’ll stay at home with our baby for a few months and then start looking for work again. When our little girl was born, I wanted to dress her up with cute bows. But all the beautiful bows that I loved and found on the internet or Instagram was either in Australia or USA, so I decided to make my own. My husband then said that I should try and sell it. That’s when it all started, I did a lot of research, made a lot of samples until I finally decided on a few bows, took photos and made a Facebook and Instagram page. It’s grown so much, and it has been a wonderful, loving and learning journey for almost two years now.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
My husband’s grandmother married her second husband who was the first owner to buy a house in our street in 1957, and we’ve loved the area and house since day one. My husband and I used to dream about renovating the house and changing a few things here and there. When we got the chance, we obviously went for it.
I’ve occupied the one bedroom as my office and workroom. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s my space and with time I’ll decorate it and get it nice a cosy.
How did you find your premises?
We bought the house (we currently live in and where I work from) from my husband’s grandmother back in 2014.
Why are they ideally suited to your business?
I love working from home. Mainly I have no rent to pay and I’m in my own space where I can be myself. I’m not a very talkative person, so being in my own space is very rewarding. I also love living in the Moot.
What do you love about the Neighbourhood?
Die Moot is awesome, it feels like a small town in a big city. It’s not as busy as in the east of Pretoria and people here are very friendly.
Any tips for business owners looking to buy/rent in this area?
If you want to stay in Pretoria but want to get away from the busy city life, I’d say ‘die Moot’ is a good choice. The people here are very welcoming to newcomers.
What are the shop rental/sales prices like in this area?
Earlier this year, I was looking for some office space out of interest and found that the rental prices here are more reasonable than in other parts of Pretoria.
What do you love most about your job?
I love my job and everything within it – the creativity, working my own hours and coming in contact with wonderful people. With all that aside, I was privileged enough to still be a full-time mom to our little girl for the first 18 months.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part for me would be when I organise a photoshoot and do a ‘model call’ on my social media platforms. I get so many emails from mommies with pictures of their beautiful children and not being able to use all the kids are the worst.
What’s your most popular item/service?
This is a difficult question as I can’t really pinpoint the exact bestseller – most of my orders contain the Leatherette bows – but everyone orders different styles, colours and sizes.