Mielie is a South African company specializing in bags and homeware handcrafted primarily from reclaimed materials. Founded in 2002 by Adri Schutz, the business has since grown from Schutz’s dining room table to a family of 50. Mielie aims to design and produce innovative, export quality products while creating jobs and restoring financial independence among South Africans.
While the company’s office, workshop, and store are located in Newlands, Cape Town, the majority of its products are created off-site in the homes of its artists. Every Thursday, Mielie weavers gather at the headquarters in Newlands and receive a list of designs that need to be accomplished. They take the materials home, interpret the designs, and return the completed work the following Thursday for quality checking and finishing. Each finished product is labeled with the name of the artist who made it before being sent out into the world.
The main material used in Mielie’s woven products are fabric strips reclaimed from local factories – a byproduct of cotton mills which the company purchases by the kilogram once a week. All items are handmade as much as possible and use locally produced materials. Mielie is committed to maintaining an international standard of quality and providing excellent design, averse to the idea of pity purchases. At Mielie, a product is only considered successful if it creates employment, is mindful of the environment, and is well-designed.
Mielie is also dedicated to making a difference in the lives of its people and their communities. To this end, Mielie has established the Spread the Love Foundation to raise funds and manage donations for various projects in and around Cape Town. To date, the company has organized education sessions on HIV, general health, personal safety, abuse, and other prevalent issues, as well as partnered with Dora Tamana, a preschool in Khayelitsha.