One million plastic bottles become luxury goods

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Weaving sustainability, luxury and design into a sublime guest experience

Cape Town, South Africa – Rooted in the rich soils of South African tradition and forward-thinking sustainability, The Joinery stands as a beacon of innovation and luxury in the textile industry. Established 13 years ago by visionaries Kim Ellis and her sister and business partner, this female-led enterprise has become synonymous with an eco-conscious luxury that does not compromise on elegance or quality.

At the core of The Joinery’s mission is the revolutionary use of recycled plastic bottles to create ‘Future Felt,’ a fabric that blends aesthetic appeal with environmental stewardship. “Our journey began with a commitment to the planet and to the people of our community,” says Kim. As The Joinery nears the monumental milestone of one million plastic bottles saved from landfill, its commitment remains unwavering—to create a product that honours the earth and its inhabitants.

The Joinery’s commitment extends beyond environmental conservation to fostering significant social impact. “We are not just preventing waste; we are creating wealth—in skills, in jobs, and in opportunities,” she adds. The company’s artisanal workshop is a hub of activity where women from underprivileged communities are trained and employed, mastering the art of textile creation. These women, alongside skilled leather artisans, handcraft each product with an attention to detail that rivals any luxury brand on the global stage. 

“Our fabric off-cuts are donated to NGOs such as The Butterfly Foundation and The Clothing Bank, which are used for in-house projects, aiding and empowering local community members,” explains, Natalie, the Co-Founder.

The impact of The Joinery’s operations is profound. Each item produced tells a story of transformation—of plastic into fabric, of unemployment into craftsmanship, of ordinary into extraordinary. The luxury items produced under The Joinery’s brand are more than just commodities; they are artefacts of change, carrying with them the narratives of the individuals who crafted them.

“Change through design is our motto. We approached local fibre recyclers who helped us on our journey to conceptualising a felt fabric made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, and packaging is recyclable or made from recycled materials. All of the plastic bottles that go into our recycled fabric are collected from around South Africa. We also use vegetable tanned leather. Vegetable tanning of leather is a natural process, using natural materials such as tree bark, making it more eco-friendly. Our products are produced by hand as much as possible to minimise our carbon footprint.”

As The Joinery continues to grow, its influence stretches across the luxury travel industry, collaborating with high-end clients including yacht companies, cruise liners, and exclusive safari lodges. These collaborations are pivotal, as they do not just drive revenue but spread the ethos of sustainable luxury worldwide. “Our clients become part of our sustainability family, sharing in our story and contributing to a global movement,” says Natalie Ellis, Joinery Co-Founder.

Looking ahead, The Joinery is poised to launch four innovative new ranges that promise to redefine standards in the luxury market. These include tailored travel accessories, bespoke hotel amenities, and a ground breaking outdoor product line designed for the eco-conscious adventurer.

As it champions sustainability, community empowerment, and women-led entrepreneurship, The Joinery is not only carving a niche but also paving a path for others to follow. It stands as a testament to what modern businesses can achieve: profitability intertwined with purpose, luxury merged with responsibility.

For more information, visit www.thejoinery.co.za/

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