Words: Kit Heathcock | Image: Julia Merett
The Joinery is a South African ethical lifestyle brand founded by sisters Natalie and Kim Ellis, providing an alternative to traditional, often hazardous methods of production and fast fashion. They design high-end sustainable products for travel lodges, design agencies and major corporates, and show their sustainable fashion line at Fashion Week. Kim and Natalie tell us more.
How did your business start?
We returned from London in 2012, after working for Burberry and Positive Television, with a hunger to work with and improve our own community in South Africa. We uncovered a plethora of extremely talented seamstresses in the Cape Flats and in Cape Town who, due to the downfall of the South African textile and manufacturing industry, are highly skilled yet unemployed. Our bespoke luxury products, clothing and accessories are produced by sewing cooperatives and artisans based in and around Cape Town. For us, ethical and environmental go hand in hand, prompting us to conceptualise our own recycled fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles. We believe in a high-end design aesthetic with an African conscience.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
We marvel at the East City. It’s raw and creative and buzzing with energy. When we moved in, it was still up and coming, and now it has exploded into one of the most exciting areas to work from in Cape Town.
How did you find your premises?
A friend, Claire Winstanley from Good Looking and Cooking, was hot desking in the space, sharing with Andy Horn of Eco Design Architects. We started off thinking we would take a desk; however we fell in love with the space and the ethos of our neighbours and took a small studio space. As our business has grown, we moved into a new larger studio just up the road.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
The Joinery prides itself on contemporary clean lines, high quality and sustainability. The all-white concrete floors, walls and the contemporary aesthetic works well for us as, we’re always shooting new product in studio.
Who are your neighbours?
A walk down the road can find us passing the Craft and Design Institute. Lunches are always on the fly from Kleinskys, meetings at Truth Coffee, gifts from The Book Lounge, Monday flowers from the flower market. Zero waste shopping at Nude foods is a must too.
What are the rental prices like in this area?
It’s becoming quite a design hub, so prices are rocketing, however, it’s still more cost-effective than the Atlantic Seaboard or Bree Street.
How many people visit your business each day?
Clients, suppliers and couriers are in and out all day. Our studio is buzzy with the ladies who help with quality control of our large orders. We meet with our corporate clients, high-end lodges, hotels, retailers and corporates in our studio too.
Do you have any expansion plans?
We’re growing at a rapid pace and hope to move into a larger space within our current building.
Do you operate online as well?
We sell our sustainable fashion line and our products made from recycled plastic bottles online.
What’s your most popular item?
Our tote bag: each is made from five recycled plastic bottles, keeping plastic bottles out of landfills and the oceans, and we print fabulous sustainable and ethical sayings onto them.
072 77 77 372 / 079 414 0007