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Mia Mélange: Inspiring Local Craftsmanship

Today we chat to creative entrepreneur and owner of Mia Melange, Jeanneke Malan. Armed with masters degrees in architecture and urban design, Jeanneke took a leap of faith when she purchased this creative business from founder Mia Danieli, at the end of 2017. Today Jeanneke proudly represents the brand and empowers local artisans. She made the bold choice to not fill an existing job in our economy, but instead, to create new ones. 

Let’s hear what Jeanneke has to share about this bustling brand…

What inspires you?

My team inspires me most! Knowing everyone’s backgrounds and knowing how hard they work to provide for their families, I has realised that there are so many more South Africans that desperately need opportunities like the artisans from our team. This inspires me to grow the business even more in order to create more jobs and to contribute positively to our economy.

Mia Mélange believes in empowering women and creating opportunities. Can you tell us more?

Mia Mélange believes in empowering women and creating opportunities. We are passionate about our local community and strive to create jobs for previously unemployed women in our area. We aim to teach our talented team members valuable skills, provide them with an ability to earn a decent income, and empower them to be independent and able to support themselves and their families.

What’s the story behind the meaning of the name, MIA MÉLANGE?

Mélange means mixture / blend in French. It’s also a type of yarn that is commonly used in the textile and fashion industries. The yarn is typically made up of different kinds of fibres, or different coloured fibres, which are blended together in a certain fixed ratio.

When applied correctly, mélange yarn can be knitted or woven into a rich multi-coloured / textured fabric, which can be used for various purposes. The idea behind the name ‘Mia Mélange’ arose out of a desire to create a collection of eclectic products, with a strong emphasis on the bountiful world of textiles.

Tell us about the creative team?

Mia Mélange does not have an appointed team of creatives who spend their days designing new shapes, sizes, colour ways or colour combinations. Often our shapes are designed by our artisans who make mistakes! The shapes of the baskets aren’t as easy to master and sometimes they end up being ‘curvier’ or wider than they should be.

We use these baskets as inspiration for new shapes and sizes. We work on the sizes and shapes of what our customers require. This usually gives us a nice guide as to what the functional sizes and shapes are. The colour combinations and designs are inspired by a lot of things! Jeanneke does a lot of designing herself as well. Everyone on the team gets to have an input and the final products are usually the result of a team effort!

Is every piece of your collection that you sell handmade locally?

We aim to create high quality products, by using the best and most sustainable local materials we can find. Each one of our products is carefully designed and produced with great care and attention to detail. Our designs are inspired by a love for nature, texture, natural materials and ancient crafting techniques. We like to combine all of these to create modern and functional designs. We make all our products in our studio in the Winelands town of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Any exciting projects or collaborations you are involved in ?

Yes, we have some exciting projects coming up, and we’re working with some very exciting materials… watch this space…

The perfect place where you can rest and indulge?

At the wine bar across the street from our studio! And in nature around our town.

I know very few of us are travelling right now but if you could where would you go?

Haha at this stage, anywhere!

You’re based in the beautiful town of Stellenbosch which continues to evolve. What are your current favourite restaurants/shops in this area?

We are really spoilt for choice! We’re doing a support local restaurants drive at the moment with some of our favourites – have a look here: https://miamelange.com/pages/support-local

A place you visited to unwind in Africa?

Any game reserve or beautiful spot – we are blessed with the most extraordinary spots in Africa!

Awards you have won?

We recently won the prize for ‘Best New Product’ at the NY NOW trade show that is held in New York.

Furthermore, be sure to visit Mia Melange and take a look at the incredible work and products available from this brand.

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