In 1998, Master Weaver Stuart Holding came into possession of two restored antique looms. He used these looms to weave limited runs of beautiful homeware textiles from what he called his ‘working weaving museum’ – an old barn where passersby could watch him work. He sold the resulting small textiles in his wife, Janet’s, shop. Soon demand outstripped supply and Mungo expanded production to a mill housed in an old dairy building a few kilometres away. Years later, things have changed; we have left the cows behind, moved to our very own mill and opened four stores in South Africa. Our one-man team has grown to a family of over 80, and alongside our South African/global site, we now have websites based in the USA and the EU. Although we are growing, our foundational values remain the same – to produce beautifully designed homeware textiles, woven with care for our community and the environment.
In 2017 the Mungo team fulfilled a long cherished dream; building our own mill on the grounds of Old Nick Village, near Stuart’s original barn, and next door to our flagship store. The Mungo Mill is a testament to our philosophy of transparency in the production process, with the entire mill open to the public. You can read more about the mill and how we make our fabric here. And those two old looms? Still going strong.
Pursuant to our sustainability objectives, in 2020 we underwent an audit for Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification. We are now South Africa’s first GOTS-certified textile weaving mill.
In 2018 Mungo began putting the wheels in motion for our very own CSR programme.
From the start of the new financial year in March 2019, Mungo began putting 1% of its annual turnover towards projects and initiatives that seek to benefit and empower the Plettenberg Bay area in which our mill and entire production process is based.
Mungo’s mission is to provide a product of exceptional quality and beauty, while providing employment and skills development to the local community. This is something we strive to do in a non-industrial environment.
We are a team of over 80 people, which spans from our design team, weaving and production, to admin, marketing and our stores. To do the things we do and in the way that we do them, each person is just as integral in their role as the next. The skills that individuals brought with them to Mungo come from a variety of backgrounds. Many of the weavers have been trained from scratch, and have worked their way up from apprentices to full-fledged machine operators. A handful of our team were trained by Stuart at his previous factory, close to 30 years ago – an investment of skills that we value immensely today. Seamstresses have either gained their trade through tertiary education or the craft was handed down through their parents.
Together we are working to not only create a great product, but also opportunities in skills and job creation, social responsibility and an impact on our local economy – all in an authentic and meaningful way.