Inspired by her four year old son Peter’s zest for life and love of all things monsters, dragons and wild adventures, Chloe Townsend’s latest Missibaba range is aptly named ‘Where the wild things are’. With names like the Gobber, the Morticia, the Hairy Eyeball, Beetlejuice and The Little Shop of Horrors, you know you are in for quite the creative treat!
‘A yearning for joy, playfulness, and freedom in the present world, we drew on the wilder fantasy landscape of our childhood, where the blur between reality and make-believe was non-existent’, says Chloe.
Established in 2005, Missibaba specialises in creating handmade, high quality, and luxurious leather goods. We recently visited Chloe and team of 18 dedicated women at their spacious Woodstock studio. On arrival, the team were settling down at a huge communal table for their lunchtime break, laughing and chatting happily amongst themselves. ‘These ladies are so amazing’, says Chloe, ‘they pour their love and creative energy into each Missibaba creation.’
Chloe combines her technical skills, developed while studying Accessory Design at the London College of Fashion, with her love for all things eclectic. ‘I have always been drawn to the homemade, the colourful, the shiny, glossy and clashing – things made with attention, love and humour.’
Mixing embellished hand-stitched leather motifs in glamorous metallic and vibrant hues, this is exactly what makes Missibaba so unique and so well-loved locally, and with a growing international clientele. Each piece is constructed with masterful craftsmanship and is made to last. ‘What makes me happy is when on of our bags or accessories truly make a client happy, and I know that lady is going to treasure it for a very long time to come. It really is a labour of love’, adds Chloe.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind your new range?
The new collection is inspired by Maurice Sendak’s 1963 classic children’s book entitled: ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. ‘We had so much fun, playing with vivid colours, textures, and imaginary creatures who live in a magical world filled with a forest, exotic plants, beetles and bugs. Fluffy suedes and bright colours that mimic nature have been the driving force behind the design process. Our aim was to bring a bit of playfulness and joy into people’s lives’.
When did you realise Missibaba was going to be a successful brand in a very competitive environment?
I think it all started to come together at our first collection event, held at The Palms Centre in Woodstock, when we were still based there. Seeing everyone there and having it all come together, felt like a huge step forward. But, we keep working, it’s a never ending process.
Ever felt like quitting?
Gosh, yes! At least twice a year I have those moments. I have come to realise though, that its when things need shifting, need changing. So, it can be a very positive outcome.
What would be your advice to other entrepreneurs?
I’d say take your time, don’t rush. Trust your gut. Don’t over-promise and then under-deliver, as you can’t undo your start. And then just keep going!
What is still on your bucket list?
There is so much I want to have the time to do more of – spend more time in nature (my ultimate inspiration and way of relaxing) and travel with my family. More time doing my personal art. Also more quiet moments, to reflect and be inspired anew.
Where do we find all your wonderful creations?
Shop online at missibaba.com or pop in at the Missibaba store in Bree street, Cape Town. For our Jo’burg customers, we often participate in Pop-Up events there too.