Breaking Ground. Opening ‘Phase 2’ of the Mungo Mill
Sometimes when we aim for the stars we end up on the moon. Which is kind of what happened when we started this Mungo Mill project. It has been a lifelong dream of Stuart’s to have a mill that is open to the public, that houses the full production process and team under one roof.
When Andrea and I designed the building 6 years ago we planned to be able to build it in one go. Best laid plans and all, we couldn’t secure finance for the whole project. This was because according to the bean counters and money lenders, the textile industry is not a good sector to be lending money to.
I tried pitching to some private equity investors.
Was told to move the company to Cape Town or they weren’t interested.
I was affronted.
We’re people. You don’t just move a factory and families who have lived and worked in Plettenberg Bay for years. We’re a community here.
I suspect they had heard that textile production is a bad bet.
They had also heard my pitch. It wasn’t good.
So we waited, and business was brisk and we got to a point where I sat with my family and said ‘Look, we need more production capacity, we either find a way to do so or we’re going to be turning customers away.’
So we borrowed what we could, dug into some savings, signed away our lives and put up what has become known as ‘Phase 1’. Very fancy wording for what was essentially a compromise.
But we knew it was a ‘good bet’.
That was 2017 and we managed quite well with a disjointed operation, a Frankenstein of sorts, but we didn’t let go of the idea to one day finish Phase 2.
We had children, some of us emigrated, expanded into territories unknown and far away. Came back. Life happened. And Covid.
We came home.
I sat with that family and said ‘What are we going to do? We can sink, we can swim, I know what I want to do, I want to push through, build Phase 2. How about you?’
So in March we started to build.
Last week we moved in.
It’s been a process that has been made challenging because of shortages of basic building material, logistics, delays on imports, lockdowns, Covid outbreaks, riots, strikes, and then just the normal mix-ups and bad communication that happens in life.
And so here we are.
Phase 2 complete.
It takes time to fulfil dreams, and in this case it’s taken a whole team, collaborating, working, and dreaming their own dreams to fulfil that one man’s dream.
This one’s for you dad.
Dax Holding, Managing Director
Congratulations! May you go from strength to strength. Your products are wonderful and can be found in my bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
That is just how big crafts based operations work! Big dreams the tenacity of a tiger and the patience of the ocean! Plus the heartwarming human side to it and the obvious love and respect that your families exemplify.
It brought tears to my eyes to read it, as I remember being starry-eyed and in Plett myself way back in 1983. We came to visit Janet and Stuart to sound out their ideas, Stuart was still firing the old gas and wood-fired kiln, the pottery had grown a little and the boat had too! Plett was still a village, growing fast but still a village, Nature’s valley was the Outer Hebrides by comparison. I am a dyed in the wool maker by inclination and the Holdings were ‘my people’ doing it old school, hippie whatever but what a dream! Our life decisions revolved around family too, and the Cape seemed just so far away from that and the economics of it seemed flimsy and we never made the move. Oh sure we came on by over the years and changes in life and economics family etc meant that in recent years I have come past guiding foreign guests to the smartest and most popular coastal town in the Cape or maybe the world! So big ups to you all for staying the course! Dax, I remember you as a dark-haired, dark-eyed kid of ten or 12, mysterious and independent. Tessa was a dear little girl with blonde curly hair and very engaged with books and animals? Am I right? Janet, I remember your charming humour and totally serene way of dealing with the multitudes of happenings that seemed to find their way to your front door! My dear friend Gavin Bell regarded his time with you as one of the most creative and rewarding ones that tipped him out of institutions of ‘higher learning’ into the reality of being a full-time craftsman, He never looked back!
So here you all are! Millions of stars have watched Mungo grow and prosper, bean counters notwithstanding, it is the human links that count after all. Penny and I shall certainly make our way back down to Plett to see the expanded mill and stores!
“What are we going to do? We can sink, we can swim, I know what I want to do, I want to push through, build Phase 2. How about you?”
It’s so ‘Cat In The Hat’, a matter of fact…I love that!!
Well done for holding on, Holding’s
Mungo is a MUSE, something even the moon is in awe of.
Bravo you guys
For the grit