Early in the 1980s entrepreneur Brett Sher headed off into remote parts of Southern Africa in his pick-up truck with requests from museums, galleries and private collectors. On his return to Johannesburg he sold African art and artefacts to collectors, museums and galleries.
Over time, art and artefacts collecting evolved into a textile manufacturing business. Prospective customers would pick up beautiful textiles and ask if it would be possible to make cushion covers or throws. There was a need to produce high-quality finished textile products.
The demand grew until it became necessary to start a production facility specialising in hand-made textiles. The scope of regions evolved to cover larger parts of Africa. Product offerings increased and led to the creation of a workshop of highly skilled artisans and specialized craftspeople.
How We Got Our Name
“Mjita” is South African slang that loosely translates as “a streetwise guy” or “dude”. Whenever founder Brett Sher travelled to out-of-the way hotspots, his staff jokingly referred to him as “Mjita”. Hard to Pronounce? we’ll make it easy for you. First is Mmmmm (as in delicious) Gee (as in wow!) Ta (as in Thank you).
Today Mjita Trading Company is a family-run business; founder and owner Brett handles the creative workshop and sales, and his wife Tamiko assists with marketing and product development. The company has up to eight full-time employees, and works with many other small independent businesses in the manufacture of specialized items.
Philosophy of Giving Back
South Africa is a country with a complex history where inequalities between rich and poor are amongst the highest in the world. Between the efforts of individuals and communities, the South African government, NGOs, Fair Trade organizations, and Corporate Social Investment, giving back and helping those around you is a way of life.
An integral part of Mjita Trading Company’s vision is the spirit of giving.
All our primary business decisions are based on ensuring that the people who work for us feel that they are part of the business. As long as we love the work we do, we will all feel acknowledged and appreciated. It is important to us that our staff are motivated to give their best. We have a role in this, and this is the way we create changes in the world around us.
If you are in a position to do so, you help a neighbour. That neighbour may well come to your aid one day. It is immaterial if you have money or not – sometimes you give time, or food or just support – it is part of South Africa’s psyche that giving to others is part of life. We call it ubuntu, the African spirit – no man can exist without the goodwill of others.
We assist those in need when possible with money, for example to build a home, attend a funeral or in contributing towards educating their children. Having said that; we are not unique in doing so. This is how things work in South Africa. If you would like to find out more about our policies regarding this and fair trade, please contact us.
Handmade Traditional African Fabrics
Our philosophy of giving extends to supporting traditional hand-made craftspeople throughout Africa. We currently source our fabrics from many regions of Africa; including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. Our focus is on working with handmade, traditional African and African inspired fabrics. We export worldwide to 17 countries and are known for our excellent service, attention to detail, and high standard of quality. As a result we have attracted the high-end retailers, boutiques and galleries.
We have the production capability to supply large retail chain stores, wholesalers, hotels, safari lodges, and restaurants as well as private individuals with unique products. From the simple to the extraordinary, we invite you to join us creating beautiful hand-made textile products to suit your needs.