US retail giant embraces SA décor design duo on international stage
August 12, 2021
Having started their journey offering clients one product, Mo’s Crib has grown from humble beginnings to having 35 active products which have been showcased globally, and now is in partnership with one of the biggest retailers in the US, Crate and Barrel.
Launched by Pretoria-based sisters Morongwe ‘Mo’ and Michelle Mokone, Mo’s Crib started off as a hobby in 2016, the only product on offer being origami swan sculptors sold at local markets. The product was awarded Best Product of the Market on its first outing and due to the growing success and popularity of the product, the recycled PVC range laundry basket was introduced in late 2017. By July 2019, both sisters had resigned from their full-time employment and made Mo’s Crib their sole focus, which continues to achieve exponential growth both locally and internationally.
The PVC range of products consists of stylish baskets and planters made from PVC water pipes individually handpicked and collected from landfills and construction sites around the country. These are then cut into strips and neatly woven over the course of 4-7+ hours to create the very popular PVC product range.
Initially created just for laundry, the PVC laundry basket has proven to have multiple uses, including being a large pot plant holder, outdoor poolside accessory holder, large toy holder, clutter keeper, and so much more. While the PVC planter is ultra-durable, washable, drainable, and bug-resistant, with a uniquely curved shape that allows for multiple uses for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
Their décor items not only exude luxury and elegance, their also practical and sustainable, which speaks to the heart of Mo’s Crib’s mission, which is to use its products to highlight and provide a solution to the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time, through the work of South African artisans.
Mo’s Crib has experienced both success and challenges in their growth. As a 100% self-funded business, it has been difficult for the company to meet the growing demand for its products due to limited cash flow. And as a company run by black females within a male-dominated industry, creating space for themselves within this sector has proven very difficult.
“Construction sites and landfills are earmarked as places that only men go to. So, to see a woman handpick and collect PVC water pipes from these spaces often results in not being taken seriously, which makes building business relationships a tough task” said Co-Founder and Lead Designer Mo Mokone.
Despite these hurdles, Mo and Michelle were not only able to build a thriving business, but they have also earned recognition for their elegant range of products by top local retailers such as Builders Warehouse, Woolworths, and Mr Price Home, and now have also found a home in the US market through collaborating with Crate and Barrel.
Securing the Crate and Barrel partnership marks the culmination of the hard work done by the founders and the artisans that make up the heart and soul of the company and marks a greater trajectory for the company’s growth.
The company is staffed entirely by women, who are provided economic and educational opportunities through the company’s novel approach in creating a healthy and balanced work environment. Employees have access to a number of workplace benefits, including housing, meals, transportation allowance, as well as an on-site health clinic for basic medical needs.
Mo’s Crib continues to produce premium quality products that are designed for both home use and aesthetical pleasure. With the combination of handmade in South Africa, the focus on environmental sustainability, and empowering women within their community makes Mo’s Crib the perfect partner for Crate and Barrel, who’s passion is to “connect the creative work of artisans and designers to people and places around the world”.