Vashti Uys (far right) founder of MOOI with her family and team members. Image supplied.
Ethical fashion is at the heart of Vashti Uys’ business with the designer and founder utilising the success of her leather goods brand MOOI to open an ethical production facility called Indigo in South Africa. Her brand has come a very long way from the original tote she made for herself that caught the eye of family, friends and passersby and inspired her to turn her passion for leather goods into a business. These days MOOI is stocked globally including here in New Zealand and Uys has been able to use the fruits of her labour to benefit her community.
MOOI (pronounced like boy but with an M), means ‘beautiful’ in Afrikaans and perfectly captures the spirit of Uys’ brand that is beautiful in spirit as well as appearance. Her vision for her growing business is to provide job opportunities for disadvantaged people in South Africa as well as maintaining her belief that her products should be made of sustainable resources. Previously MOOI’s manufacturers have adhered to the principles of Fair Trade and that all hides used for the bags are bi-products of the economic food industry. However, opening her family-owned Indigo production facility in September 2016 in Little Falls, Roodepoort, Johannesburg, meant that Uys could take her ethical production stance a step further and have Indigo accredited as 100% Fair Trade certified. It also meant she could have greater control of her product and quality control as well as being able to adapt and change to meet the needs of her customers.
MOOI dustbags being made in the Indigo production facility by a MOOI team member.
Not to mention the fact that the MOOI brand has grown considerably year on year so being able to do so much in one place is a big advantage for the brand. MOOI is currently distributed to New Zealand, Australia and recently entered the American market which is very exciting for Uys and her team. At present Indigo employs a full time staff of 15 as well as several contractors who work on leather production cutting, gluing, sewing and assembly as well as quality control. There are also two specialised staff who are dedicated to creating MOOI’s beautiful signature tassels full time.
Each of MOOI’s designs are named after Uys’ own family and friends as well as those who have positively impacted the life of the designer. “As I design the bags and select their fittings, I imagine who would wear it and why it would appeal to them both aesthetically and functionally. Since I’ve designed most of my bags with women I know in mind seeking inspiration from their personalities, lifestyle and taste it seems fitting that I name that bag after them.”
Pieces from MOOI’s Winter 2017 collection.
MOOI’s Winter 2017 collection reflects Uys’ easy-going style with her practical but luxurious aesthetic popular with women of many ages. While it’s always nice to have a gorgeous handbag that works well with your wardrobe it’s also encouraging to know that your arm candy has helped support families and their community. After all fashion that has heart will never go out of style.
We are giving away a charming Lulu clutch in almond from MOOI’s winter 2017 collection here.