Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied
Fashion that genuinely celebrates the curves of real women is hard to find, but Cape Town designer Mel Brookes is making waves with the clothes she loves to wear, so much so that she was selected to take part in London Fashion Week earlier this year. Mel tells us more about her business and her studio in Diep River.
How did your business start?
I studied fashion design but only started out designing clothes after having my first baby, when I couldn’t find anything I liked to fi t my body shape. At first, I wasn’t thinking of it as a business, just selling to family and friends, but the word spread and more people who had the same issues with finding nice clothes to fit their curves started coming to me. I feel that there are three key elements to making curvy women feel amazing and empowered in their garments: quality fabrics, good cuts and simplicity. The label was originally Indhi Design Studio, but I recently rebranded to Mel Brookes Designs. It was a completely amazing experience to be invited to show at London Fashion Week this year, it was so lovely to be recognised.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
I shared a studio in Woodstock for two years or so, but I live in the Southern Suburbs and it was too far to travel comfortably. I wasn’t specifically looking in Diep River, but it’s close to home and to the kids’ school, so it is very convenient.
How did you find your premises?
I was driving past with my husband and saw the To Let sign. I met directly with the owner and it was the right fit.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
There’s a nice little wooden walkway and the size is perfect. The security is good and being on the Main Road it’s easy for my clients to find.
Who are your neighbours?
Within the building called Homestyle Square, there are Heavenly Heads hair salon, Seale & Shaw physiotherapists, and Headboards for Africa.
What are the rental prices like in this area?
It’s more affordable than other areas I’d looked at. The owner had recently renovated and we’re dealing directly with him, not through agents. He’s a really nice guy and is supportive of small businesses.
Do you have any expansion plans?
When the people behind us moved out, I took on half of the extra space and the hair salon took the rest. That’s as far as I’ll go with expansion. I like keeping my business small and slightly under the radar so that I can fit my work around my children’s school times.
How many people visit your business each day?
My clients come by appointment only. I’ll design a new range and have a photo shoot to send out images to my client list. I have about 15 to 20 clients visiting me weekly to buy.
Do you operate online as well?
What’s your most popular item?
My jumpsuits are always my biggest sellers. I renew the design regularly and they are a classic that all my clients love.
Mel Brookes Design
082 806 2457