This week we chat with Nathalie Klijn, founder of artisan dog accessories brand, Chommies, based in Cape Town who we have loved and stocked for a number of years at Hadeda. Both hard-wearing and stylish her designs celebrate the vibrant colour palettes of South Africa, alongside heritage artisan skills of rope whipping, weaving and leatherwork. Learn more about the inspiration she draws from the landscape and culture of her Cape Town HQ in her designs and shop the new collection, online now.
What sparked the idea to launch Chommies?
When life brought me to South Africa, I was craving the magic that appears when you look beyond life’s edges. I was deeply enchanted by the people I encountered and their many talents which had been passed down through the generations; from weaving and whipping to beading and knitting.
I began to envision a brand that would capture the best of African artisanal craftsmanship and Cape Town’s lifestyle with contemporary luxury design. My ideas started to develop; a celebration of bright bold aesthetics evoking joy inspired by the extraordinary surroundings. But there was more. Owning and sharing my life with dogs I reflected bred pure happiness and a sense of adventure. I loved the notion of bringing these worlds together in a fun and unexpected way, and so Chommies was born.
I began to envision a brand that would capture the best of African artisanal craftsmanship and Cape Town’s lifestyle with contemporary luxury design.
How does the city Cape Town influence your brand and design?
The vibrancy and eclecticism of the city is Chommies’s heartbeat; it fuels our design ethos and imagination. We relish the clash of conventions, the kaleidoscopic colours and cultures, and Capetonian’s easy-going optimistic attitude.
The diversity and uniqueness of Cape Town’s raw beauty, landscape and culture are a constant source of awe and inspiration. What’s more is that dogs lead us to discover the very best of this extraordinary city; from the vast oceans and beaches, striking mountains and lush forests to the best eateries and weekend escapes.
Tell us more about how your designs are made and the artisan skills that go into making them
Chommies provides sustainable work for around thirty skilled craftsmen and women from our local community in Cape Town and in KwaZulu-Natal. Our commitment is to meaningfully support their livelihoods in the long term through a supply chain that is entirely reliant on hand-touch luxury craftsmanship, and by honouring our artisans in paying fair wages and setting fair prices.
Under our roof in Gardens, Cape Town, traditional African handicrafts such as rope whipping, weaving, leatherwork and macramé live on with the making of Chommies luxury products. Further afield in Durban our talented team specialise in fine beadwork.
Some of our artisans have brought their extraordinary skills and knowhow to us, often passed down from previous generations in their family. Others have honed their craft at Chommies, taking advantage of the training and up-skilling offered in-house.
Chommies offers flexible working to support our team’s circumstances. Some enjoy the camaraderie of working at the Chommies Headquarters, whilst others, often mothers, opt to work from their own homes, making products at times that complement their lives and family responsibilities.
What they all have in common, however, is an uncompromising dedication to exceptional craftsmanship. It is this passion and pride in their individual work, their team’s work and the brand as a whole that is the life force behind Chommies.
Traditional African handicrafts such as rope whipping, weaving, leatherwork and macramé live on with the making of Chommies luxury products.
Describe Chommies in 3 words
High on Happiness
Tell us your favourite place to escape to in Cape Town
My favourite retreat is to hike on Constantia Nek with my dogs.
Any tips for Hadeda shoppers to buy the best Chommies piece?
Shop with your eyes, let them be drawn to colours that make you happy. Make sure the colours you choose pop against your dog’s fur colour. Don’t be afraid to mix, match and customise.