Meet Heather Moore: Passionate About Pattern and Prints

Meet Heather Moore: Passionate About Pattern and Prints
Jacqui Taylor

If your heart skips a beat for retro prints then let us introduce you to Skinny laMinx. Heather Moore is the founder and illustrator of the small but ever-growing textile business that has an aesthetic that combines mid-century style and palette with a measure of African and Scandinavian chic and pattern. It's a unique fusion that works!

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Heather has applied her signature style across a wide range of homewares and home furnishings, but this collaboration with Nerida Hansen is the first time these designs will be available for fashion fabrics.

Read on to learn more about Heather and her company.

Let’s start with yourself Heather, please tell me a little about yourself – where did you grow up, where do you live now?
I was born in Johannesburg in the 1970s, and grew up climbing trees with my three brothers.

Now I live in central Cape Town, and don’t climb trees anymore, but there’s a mountain just a short walk away from our city apartment which I occasionally climb.

When did you start working in textile design?
I took my time getting there!

After studying languages and drama, I ended up with a 10 year career in schoolbook illustration and writing. But with the dawn of the internet, a new world opened up, and I became consumed with the idea of creating my own screenprinted fabrics.

In 2006, I started experimenting with textile prints, started a blog and opened an Etsy shop. The friendliness and encouragement of that online space truly is what spurred me to continue.
Talk me through your process.
I have daily and weekly creative habits on the go, alongside other handwork that I do for pleasure.

My daily practice is to set myself a daily ‘thing’ to notice over the course of a month. This could be noticing a particular shape, a colour, or even a concept, and I find this a great tenchique for keeping my perception open and alert. I record what I notice daily at @theattentionhabit on Instagram, and it’s fun when other people play along.

My weekly practice is at my studio on a Friday, which is where I noodle about with cut paper or simple printing techniques. I keep this work  intentionally unfocussed, as it allows me to explore ideas outside the immediate needs of the business.  I record some of these results at @makingfriday on Instagram.

In the evenings, I generally have a tapestry canvas on the go, while my husband cooks us dinner, and on the weekends I like to bake or sew.

All of these constant bits of creative work supply me with fuel for design ideas to explore when I need to create something for Skinny laMinx. They also help to balance the toil of running a business with the joy of creating.

What is the meaning behind your business name, Skinny laMinx?
It’s a nickname for our skinny little Siamese cat, Monkey (who was a total little minx!)

When did this become a full time gig for you? What was the turning point?
I’d started to get royalties on some of the books I’d co-written and illustrated, and was looking to leave the world of educational publishing, so I took a half-day job as a scriptwriter at a comics company. This is where I worked for three years, heading to my studio in the afternoons to create products and run my Etsy store.

By 2009, with wholesale orders across the world and my fabrics in professional production, it was clear that this enthusiasm of mine had morphed into a proper business. That’s when I teamed up with someone to help with production and finances, and Skinny laMinx started taking itself seriously.

Tell me about your upcoming collection for Nerida Hansen. What was your inspiration for that range?
Nerida approached me with the idea of introducing some classic Skinny laMinx prints into the Australian market. All of the designs in this range have been favourites with our customers for almost a decade, but have only been seen as furnishing fabrics. So when Nerida came up with the idea of putting the same prints onto fashion fabrics, I was super excited to see the results.

There is a distinct retro vibe with your work. Who/what has inspired you the most with your designs?
I like to think that if Alexander Girard and Marimekko had had a love child in Cape Town, they would have named her Skinny laMinx!

What would be your dream project?
I’ve recently designed a tile range, and now my dream is to cover the underside of all the bridges across Cape Town in patterned tiles.  I know that pattern makes people happy, and my hope would be to lift the spirits of people stuck in traffic with my colours and patterns.

Heather, what do you do to ensure your business/art is moving towards being more eco-friendly and more sustainable?
South Africa has a 37% unemployment rate, which is why it’s so important that our manufacture and production stays local. We’re also devoted to skills-based work, which is why we choose to screenprint rather than go digital. Everything we do at our women-run company is made in South Africa - almost all of it in Cape Town.

On top of this, we are very careful to make good use of all of our offcuts and scraps, and anything we don’t use is sent off to sewing projects, or to a dog rescue organisation who use them to stuff dog beds.
What does a typical day look like for you?
After some early morning exercise –  a pilates class, a walk on the mountain or a swim in the sea – I take a walk to my production studio in the centre of Cape Town. There, I’ll work with my team on the week’s orders, do some production planning, and maybe see some customers in our showroom.

We’re lucky to be on a street full of amazing shops and restaurants, so I’ll grab a plate of salads at Cafe Frank for lunch, and on my walk home at the end of the day, I’ll shop for dinner.

Then while Paul cooks, I’ll work on my tapestry canvas and we’ll listen to music, watch something on Netflix, then early to bed to read before lights out. All of this is punctuated with many cups of tea along the way. 

What advice would you offer to those starting out as a designer?
I’d advise learning to style, shoot and edit decent photographs of your process as well as your finished goods, as a great image can really be a multiplier of what you do.

Finally, give me three words to describe your style.
Bold, fresh and optimistic

Follow along with Heather's journey here, @skinnylaminx.

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