Min­taka & Ver­mont Leather­craft

Fairlady - - ENTREPRENEURS - www.min­taka.co.za

OWNER: Mandy Owen STARTUP COSTS: Our ini­tial in­vest­ment in Ver­mont Leather­craft was R110 000 in 1987. TURNOVER: R7.5 mil­lion a year

Mandy Owen has been at the helm of Ver­mont Leather­craft for 30 years, a far cry from where she started out. ‘I spent the first five years of my work­ing life as an ar­ti­cled clerk for an au­dit­ing firm in Pre­to­ria, be­fore be­com­ing an ac­coun­tant and later mov­ing into sales,’ she says. But Mandy had more cre­ative as­pi­ra­tions.

‘In 1985 I started mak­ing leather belts in my guest bed­room at home and sell­ing them to friends and fam­ily, while still do­ing my day job.’ In 1987, when a fash­ion brand spe­cial­is­ing in belts and bags came up for sale, Mandy’s hus­band Gra­ham took the leap and bought it.

‘My mother is my true in­spi­ra­tion, fu­elling and mo­ti­vat­ing me to pur­sue my dreams,’ she says. ‘She taught me how to sew and sparked my love for the in­dus­try.’

Ver­mont Leather­craft be­gan branch­ing out, man­u­fac­tur­ing be­spoke hos­pi­tal­ity items and cor­po­rate gifts, along with hand­bags, wal­lets and travel ac­ces­sories. The com­pany had been man­u­fac­tur­ing for pri­vate la­bels for years, but never had its own brand – un­til last year.

‘Min­taka is our own in-house lux­ury hand­bag and ac­ces­sory brand. We launched it in Oc­to­ber 2017,’ Mandy says.

‘We’re very ex­cited to bring this uniquely South African of­fer­ing to mar­ket. There’s mas­sive op­por­tu­nity for growth and job cre­ation in hand­bags.’

Since Min­taka is the ‘third chap­ter’ of her busi­ness, it was named af­ter the third mul­ti­ple star in the Orion’s belt or Three Sis­ters con­stel­la­tion.

‘It took us a year to come up with the name, de­velop what the brand would look like and all the finer de­tails sur­round­ing it,’ says Mandy. Min­taka’s range con­sists of hand­bags, travel bags, wal­lets, purses, cos­metic bags, travel ac­ces­sories and busi­ness bags made from os­trich skin and leather. The bags are de­signed with a time­less aes­thetic in mind – pieces that can be worn sea­son af­ter sea­son.

‘Every os­trich skin has a unique quill pat­tern, the colour range is spec­tac­u­lar and the end prod­uct is glo­ri­ously lux­u­ri­ous.’

Mandy is to­tally hands on in her busi­ness, over­see­ing the en­tire man­u­fac­tur­ing process as well as qual­ity con­trol, and shar­ing the job of pat­tern mak­ing with her son, Chad, who trained in hand­bag de­sign in Mi­lan. The brand is sold at bou­tiques and on­line and will soon be re­tail­ing in their own bou­tique fac­tory shop.

Mandy is also pas­sion­ate about job cre­ation. ‘I be­lieve in the dig­nity of sus­tain­able em­ploy­ment. Our fac­tory team is 90% black women,’ she ex­plains. ‘They’re all highly skilled and pro­duce beau­ti­ful leather goods.’

Left: Gen­uine leather Dou­ble Han­dle Shop­per. Be­low left: Mandy started out mak­ing belts in her guest bed­room.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.