Gooder Podcast

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Redefining Sustainability with Mo & Michelle Mokone

CEO/Founder of Mo’s Crib

In this episode of Gooder, host Diana Fryc is joined by Michelle Mokone and Mo Mokone, co-founders of Mo’s Crib, a sustainable home decor company in South Africa. They discuss how businesses can make a difference in sustainability beyond just recycling. Mo’s Crib prides themselves on creating sustainable jobs and taking care of their employees with a wellness initiative and Mindful Fridays. They also share their journey of using recycled PVC pipes for origami decorations, including the challenges of sourcing the material and adhering to industry specifications.

They also talk about their expansion to the US market and their commitment to making all their products environmentally friendly. Tune in to hear more about their inspiring story and sustainable practices.

Today’s episode is hosted by Diana Fryc of Retail Voodoo, connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianafryc/

Key Takeaways

  • Sustainable Business Practices
  • Prioritizing employee well-being and creating sustainable
  • How Mo’s Crib overcame adversity in the waste management industry in Africa
  • Successful expansion into the US market led to the growth of their business
  • Fostering a healthy work environment for their employees.
  • Navigating marketing challenges in a highly competitive market
  • Why Mo’s Crib’s products prioritize environmental sustainability.
  • The complex components of PVC pipes present challenges in the recycling process.
  • Michelle’s contributions to the community exemplify the success of black women
  • Rejection of a sustainable basket in South Africa did not deter their determination to explore opportunities in the US market.

Quotes

“We take pride in creating sustainable jobs and providing a 50% transportation subsidy for our employees. Our goal is to empower our workforce and uplift the community, leading to positive transformations and economic growth.” – Mo Mokone

“The advocacy for environmental awareness by companies is increasingly spreading a message of hope and inspiration. People are now finding solace in businesses that actively contribute towards tackling these pressing issues, fostering a sense of goodwill and positivity.”- Michelle Mokone“

Recognizing the trials and tribulations of each other’s journeys, we come to appreciate the tremendous efforts and obstacles overcome in attaining our current successes” – Michelle Mokone

Chapters

00:00 | Introduction
05:19 | Gratitude Overflowing: Appreciating the Thoughtful Gift Basket
07:46 | How Origami Swan Art Took Off as a Thriving Business Venture
11:00 | Reshaping Sustainability: Crafting Origami from Recycled PVC Pipes
15:06 | Weaving Nature’s Gifts: Sustainable Baskets from Natural Materials
17:46 | From Rejection to Triumph: Pitching Baskets, Conquering the US Market
21:34 | The Marketplace Game: South Africa’s Challenges, America’s Opportunities
20:02 | Mo’s Crib’s Journey from Product Showcase to US Market Infiltration
32:01 | Fulfillment Beyond Profits: Nurturing a Healthy Work Environment
36:52 | Michelle’s Inspirational Influence on Entrepreneurship
40:19 | Seeking Inspiration: Explore Creighton Barrel or Target for Unleashing Creativity
41:50 | Outro

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. A brand consultancy focused on building,growing and revitalizing brands in the food, beverage, health and wellness industries. If youare ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy thatgives your brand an advantage, please visit

https://retail-voodoo.com/contact set up a discovery call today.

Produced by Heartcast Media.
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Transcript

Diana Fryc:

 

Here’s a quick disclaimer. The views, statements and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers. The statements are not intended to be product claims or medical advice. Hi, Diana Fryc here. I’m the host of the Gooder podcast where I get to talk with a powerhouse, women in the food, beverage and wellness categories about the business of consumer packaged goods, branding and leadership. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm providing strategic brand design services for brands in the food, wellness and beverage industries. Our clients include Starbucks, Kind, Rei, PepsiCo, High Key, and many other market leaders. So if your goal is to crush your competition by driving growth and disrupting the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call and let’s talk. To find out more, visit retailvoodoo.com okay, today everybody, I’m very excited to chat with my guests who are all the way on the other side of the planet. You’ll learn more here in just a minute. But Mo and Michelle McCone are co founders and co CEOs of Mo’s Crib, a South African based home decor company. They are total hustlers and have overcome serious adversity to get where they are today. Just to give you an example, the waste management industry in Africa is a boys club, and the duo has been strong in the face of unpleasant sexism to source their materials for the benefit of their native ecosystem. Their commitment to this initiative has proven well worth it. In the last year, Mo’s Crib has successfully launched in the US. For the first time at Creighton Barrel and Target, expanded headcount, cleaned up more than six thousand tons. Not tons, six thousand pounds.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Woo.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Tons, not yet of PVC plastic, and opened a new library in their HQ, as well as expanded their warehouse operations. I want to welcome you both. Mo and Michelle, how are you?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Wonderful.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes, of course. Now, you were both in South Africa today, correct?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Yes.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I think Michelle said you are kind of north in South Africa, is that right?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Yes. Well, essentially almost like the center of Gotcha.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Gotcha. Okay. And for those of you that are listening that our YouTube watchers can see this, but Mo is in essentially the dark. She’s working. She’s got a unique situation. Well, maybe it’s not unique in South Africa. Tell us what’s happening in your part of the world right now that has you doing this call sort of without electricity.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

Yeah. So currently what happens? Yes, Michelle will tell you more about it, but I’m literally in your room and I’ve got a little light, so you can actually see something. It’s evening now, quite dark, but essentially Michelle will explain it means okay.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Yeah. So essentially we’ve got load shedding, Diana, which means that at random hours of the day, you will have blackouts. And these are scheduled per location. So whichever area you are, you are expected to have a power outage for four hours, minimum two hours. And this happens three times a day per area, so it’s not like just four hours. And then the rest of the day you’ve got electricity. And this is because South Africa does not create enough good infrastructure to supply reliable electricity. And because of that, they have to actually shed the electricity. So it’s basically being cut so that we can all have an equal share, so to speak.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes. How long has this been happening? Has this just been like this forever?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

No, you know what? We’ve had loads of cheating, I think since around two thousand seven, if I remember.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

A long time.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

It was very it was not this bad. It has gotten bad, I would say, since a year ago.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

Since a year ago.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Interesting.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

I would probably say, yeah. Last November, they did mention that this is something that is long term now. And we go on a day with eleven hours or even twelve hours without electricity in a day. So you can imagine what that means in the morning because it’s evening now. In the morning, for the first four hours of the morning, I do not have electricity. So I had about four hours of electricity in the day. So I get to do as much work as possible because then around four P.m., I’m out of electricity until the evening.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Well, we’ll probably talk about how that impacts your business a little bit here, or impacts businesses in general. But I’d like to get started on the podcast, and before I do so, first of all, I just want to thank you for this amazing basket. For those of you that can’t see this, the Mose Crib team sent me one of their top sellers, I believe. Really amazing piece that’s woven from PVC, right, remnant. And you just couldn’t even know it until you picked it up because it just has this beautiful shape to it and the variegated colors that just come from the source. So really, thank you so much. It’s in my office, and it makes me smile. Thank you.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

It’s a pleasure, Diana.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

Thank you, Diana.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Well, let’s start, yes, of course. Let’s start at the very beginning. I always like it when our guests tell us about their brands. Why don’t you tell us about Mo’s Crib, and what does Mo’s Crib stand for?

 

Mo Mokone:

 

Well, mo’s crib. You go ahead, Jim.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

We always just want to go ahead. No. Take it over, Mo. Yes.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

Okay. Thank you, Michelle. So Michelle and I are sisters, blood sisters. I’m the older sister. She comes after me. And Moscrip, essentially, is our names, our African names. My full name is Moroa, and her full name is Moshibudi. So they both start with an Mo, and our surname also starts with an Mo, and hence why the name Mose Crips. Essentially, that’s us as sisters. And our business is really a manufacturing and design unit that specializes on making sustainable product, product for the home that is unique, that is made from sustainable material, that is also eclectic and handmade, because we’re all about sustainability, all fronts, not only just preserving the environment, but also creating job opportunities here in South Africa. So essentially, that’s what most Crip is about. Most Crip is a company that makes homeware goods that feel good, that are wholesome, that are made by artisans, that are just amazing. You’ll get to hear more about our artisans as we carry on the conversation.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

And how did the idea come to you? Where did it come from?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

You know what? It’s actually quite a unique story that I always have so much passion in telling. But essentially, Mo is a born artist, so she makes Origami Swans. She was making Origami Swans at the time, and she was actually just making it for friends and family. And it was not for money. But we went to a market, and when we were at the market just for fun and we’re just going for outing assistance, she noticed a business opportunity because at this market, she noticed that someone was actually selling artwork made from paper, which was actually origami. And she noticed that, you know what? This is actually a market that would house my product. I could actually come to this market and sell my product at the market. And then a year later, we were at the market. And I’ll say that that’s when everything started, because we started selling the products there. They were really received well in the market. And I think that another interesting thing about this particular Origami Swan, which is like a utility holder. It’s very sustainable. It’s made from recycled material. It’s environmentally friendly. And that is what customers really liked about the product. And that’s what also made us think about creating, first of all, utility products. Just like your basket. Right now, it’s a utility basket and also centering it around environmentally friendliness and sustainability. And so that’s when it came about. And so, year after year, we then had to introduce new products out of our own will. We just decided, let’s just introduce more products. And the PVC range, which is what you have right now, was the second product that was actually introduced in the market. And of course, we started becoming too big for markets, and that’s when we decided to start partnering up with retailers. So I would say that really found us more than us finding it, because it’s not like something that we had planned to do. So, yeah, I would say that this actually really found us.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Wow. Is the Crib part the Crib part of the name related to the baskets? I’m curious. How the moat’s crib.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

The Crib is the home in American gangs, usually people say, and essentially that’s why we’re a home brand. And reflective of that, like an American name, because no one in South Africa got you. Okay, essentially what it means.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

It’S basically mo’s house? Yeah.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Love it. I love it. Well, tell us about the early days. Now, I know you talked about the marketplace, but I’m curious about some of the hurdles. How did you get to PVC? How are you sourcing the PVC? Did people think you were insane? Tell us about those early days of sourcing and determining where you’re going to get the elements that you’re going to need to make your products.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Diana people thought that Mo wasn’t saying for making the origami one. So whenever you start something, people will always think that you’re crazy. They were thoughts of us being crazy during that time for what we were doing. But essentially, we got pipes from construction sites, from manufacturers, and also, most importantly, from landfills. Exactly. So there’s landfills that were filled with a lot of PVC pipe. And what people don’t really know, I mean, we talk about recycling normal plastic, which is a shopper bag that you buy. But what about other plastic? You know, like toy plastic? Where does that end up? And so with the PVC, it’s really one of the hardest recycled, least recycled plastics, also because it’s so hard to recycle because it’s got many different components to it. So we went to construction sites, and then they have, like, fields of PVC lying around that’s broken and cannot be used anymore, and they don’t know what to do with that pipe. And also construction sites where after they’ve done with the construction, they’ve got leftover pipe and they don’t even know what way to throw it or discard it. And we had to make those kinds of connections and those networks to be able to get the pipe that we use. From the beginning, it was actually quite interesting because we could use the smallest piece of pipe, and no matter what the color was, whether it was green or red, we’d actually use it. But now having to go into the retail industry where specifications and design are so stringent, we had to then be bought into the type of colors that you have, which is a neutral color or a black, et cetera. Right now, we’re trying to experiment with your orange colors, et cetera. But we were able to then team up with a local PVC pipe manufacturer who has all the machinery and technology to help us to be able to regranulate old pipe and actually design it according to the color that’s needed. And with that, we actually get it to the particular color that we need. We use something called resin. And each and every single PVC pipe that you see in the world has resin. So it’s not an extra ingredient or whatever. It is actually part of the manufacturing component of a PVC. And we actually add that into the it’s almost like a coarse, salt size of granules that PVC pipe gets shredded into. And whether you’ve got red or green pipe or black pipe, when you mix it together and you add that resin, then the color becomes the color that you want, which may be like a neutral color, et cetera. So we don’t use any virgin pipe in our production. It’s all recycled and regran, evicted.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I’m wondering if that was Mo’s influence on the two of you. She’s the creative one and you’re more the business operations. Do I have that correct?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Yeah. Well, you know what? We’re actually very good, yeah, that’s correct. So she’s creative. And I’ll say that I’m more on operations because we are definitely both on business.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

So I’m imagining Mo. I’m imagining in the beginning her seeing this, because I’m married to a creative person too. And he will look at something and be able to turn it into a piece of art in his mind, go, oh, I need that, or I don’t need that. Is that mo? Is that sort of what happened to you? You were like, PVC, hey, we can turn this into a basket.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

You know what? That actually happened to me with the origami swans, but I have to give the credits where it’s due. Michelle saw the pipes and the basketry and she was like, this is something that is absolutely outstanding, and this is something that should be a follow up to what we’ve done. And it takes all the right boxes. The fact that it’s sustainable, the fact that it’s handmade, the fact that it’s a utility basket, and it was a marriage made in heaven. And I think because we are in those roles, we’re not necessarily defined by them, does not mean that if Michelle is operations manager, that I can’t step into operations and be able to lead in the operations space. It’s just the way of doing business, because otherwise we step on each other’s toes and we’re not sure who does what. But I would say that essentially, Michelle and I have really been able to play in both roles in the same way that she does. I’m able to play in the same role and she’s able to play in the same role that I do. It’s just that maybe I’m more into the doing of the product, but the PVC I see. And she was like, this is something that’s going to fly. This is something that is amazing. And she actually said to me, mo, you need to come and see this. I saw it when she was driving with my mom and she saw this beautiful product and she thought, oh my goodness, this is definitely a follow up to what we’ve done in the creative space before. And if we’re going to go to the market, we need to have various products. And I think this should be a follow up. And that’s pretty much how it happened. And so it was like a marriage made in heaven. And it’s not just for the PVC basket. It’s for all the other baskets that we’ve got. I mean, we’ve got ilala palm baskets made from elala palm. We’ve got banana bugs made from banana bug trees. We’ve got siso baskets from a siso plant. So all our products are environmentally friendly. And every time we see a product, we can already see whether it’s Michelle or myself that sees the product, we can already see whether or not it would fit in the best script category.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Well, that’s great. I mean, as sisters, you guys certainly know how to sound like you have a pretty symbiotic relationship. And clearly, as your business is growing, that’s a fun story there. Thank you. Now, tell us a little bit about how you moved into the US market or why the US market.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

So, essentially, there was a day when Michelle and I went to pitch to one of the retailers in South Africa. This is how I remember it happening. And we flew all the way to the city where this head office was with this one basket, and we pitched this basket. We told the retailer, this is an amazing basket. This is a future, this is a sustainable product. This is very different, unique. And the retailer turned around and said, you know what, I think it’s best that you keep your day jobs because I think this is too fast forward. This is too forward for the market right now. And Michelle and I, even though we had spent so much money going to that city, because we were working nine to five regular jobs, we didn’t really have a lot of money, but it didn’t really get our spirits down. And I remember saying to Michelle, we’re going to sell thousands and hundreds and thousands of these baskets internationally. Because I know that in the USA, in the USA market, it’s very conscious. They’re very conscious consumers. They really care a lot about how the product is made. More than in a third country where people are really worried about the basics, like electricity. People are worried about where the meal is coming from. They’re not thinking about what basket was made by a water pipe and handmade. And it’s one hundred% more expensive than a regular basket from a plastic made basket from, I don’t know, an Asian country, like maybe, for example, China. And so I knew for sure that in the US. We really had a market. We could occupy market share there. And I knew that even though it was the future and it was forward, and I knew that the USA was something, a market that would be receiving to the future. And so we invested quite a lot in getting to the US. You mentioned how we get to the US. So, first of all, it was us identifying the fact that we can get into that market. The second part is us actually going to the market. So we invested a lot to fly then to then fly to the US. To partake in a market called it’s a trade show, actually called New York. Now, I don’t know if you know about it, but it’s quite big. It’s called New York.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I don’t know that one.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

It happens in the summer and it happens in the wintertime, and we attended the summer time in August. And in that show, we basically exhibit some of our products. You don’t have a lot, but just a few, so that buyers will come around, you talk through your product, and there is a lot of interest coming through. I mean, Lowe’s was one of the companies that stopped and mentioned that they were quite interested. And we actually walked away with the best product of the market at the time. But unfortunately, we walked away with the price but no orders. So we came back to South Africa with no orders, but it left us really determined because we had won the best new product at the market, and it let us know that we are onto something. So essentially, we started during the COVID period. It was a quiet time when everybody was at home, and we knew that this is the time that we could really maybe make conversations with the buyers, one on one conversation with the buyers. So I started researching online on Creighton, Barrel, on many other stores, lowe’s, as they stopped by our station when we were in New York, and we had a conversation going with Lowe’s, and that’s pretty much how we got into the US. Market.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Wow. So as you’ve been in the US. Market now, what surprises did you run into? Anything unexpected that you’ve kind of learned from?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

I would say from my side, unexpected in a sense that it’s a very good marketplace, first of all, compared to South Africa, completely different. And I’ll say that in the way in which our product or most Crib got to be known. It was just so much faster than how it was in South Africa. From a business perspective, I’d say that the challenge also that I would say maybe did surprise me was just how difficult it is to actually get the marketing done right. As a small business, we depend on very competitive market. As a small business, you depend on Facebook marketing. And many small businesses actually do this themselves because Facebook marketing is quite easy if you really understand the basics. And we thought that it would be something that’s just easy to crack, but we realize that it’s actually not that easy, and it just shows you how big the market is. But that’s a good problem because you realize that there’s just so many people that you can reach, meaning so many people can know your product. So it’s just all about being consistent, and eventually all the corners will know most Crib. But yeah, there’s definitely been the good that has been quite surprising, and there’s also been challenging that has also been quite surprising. I think it’s a good balance.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Wow, that’s interesting. Thank you. Yeah, I guess a competitive marketplace means that it’s good I had really not considered that. But a competitive marketplace means that it’s a good place to be doing business.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

And also the surprise comes from the interest, the number of interests that we’ve had people actually wanting from us, your Diana, for example, that actually sees us as a worthy brand and really taking the time to get to know us, getting to know about our products, getting to know about what we do. That really touches us a lot because where we started from, we could never imagine having this kind of one on one with yourself and conversing about how we started and how now we are in the US. I think this is more surprising than anything because even though we do find interest in South Africa, it’s not nearly as much as in the US. And we really give credit to the US market for getting us where we are today.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

That’s amazing. Well, part of that is because of who you are. Clearly you guys are these amazing humans. But part of it is also this visionary, you and your team having a vision that’s sort of mission centric. And I’d like to kind of shift our focus here to some of those mission tenants of your brand. And for me, for those of you that have been listening to my podcast for a while, you’ll know that at one point in time I had the joy of working with Jane Goodall. This is back on a project I was part of a team. I was responsible for manufacturing products. And she was insistent that everything that I produce was sustainable and paid fair wages and all of those things. Right?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Yeah.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

And since then, more and more people are in alignment with trying to do more, take care of Mother Earth in a really great way. And brands like yours that leverage remnant salvage and waste are great. But are we as consumers and manufacturers doing better about waste? Or do you just find over the years, you’ve been doing this for several years now, are you seeing less garbage or is more garbage or is it the same? What’s the sentiment that you are seeing?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

I think that, to be honest, more garbage. But the truth is the fact that we must think about the fact that the population is growing, world production is growing. It’s not just China that’s manufacturers now, developing countries are also manufacturers. So that also does contribute to the kind of waste that is said, but it doesn’t mean we need to stop doing the work. This is actually the time when we need to start doing the work to preserve the environment. But I think the positive in this as well is that consumers, at first it used to just be a few people or western countries that cared about the environment. But now we are seeing that it’s actually in our global conversation and consumers are really watching it like they really care. And I mean, I’ll also speak for myself and it’s not just because I’m in a business that based its ethics on sustainability but I really care a lot about sustainability. If there’s going to be maybe a shoe that is made from recycled material versus a shoe that’s made from virgin material I would really opt for the one that’s made from recycled material. It makes you feel good. The more companies go out and actually advocate for environmental awareness we are starting to spread a message of a feel good story where people now start feeling good about businesses that are really helping in this problem that we’re seeing.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Now. What are some insights that you can share with other businesses either from your learning or what you’re seeing? Like how can they be better stewards in how they run their business? Or maybe is there an easier way to incorporate remnant remnant waste into their own products? Is that easily accessible in your part of the world? I know in the US. There’s a big demand but not enough supply. I don’t know if that’s the same in South Africa.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

I mean, when you talk about sustainability you don’t just talk about recycling, right? Because you’ve got other companies that are not necessarily wellness or product development and they are maybe service driven. And so what we find is that there’s so many ways to make a difference in a sustainable way. For example, we pride ourselves as being a company that is creating sustainable jobs. And one of the things that we pride ourselves in our company is that we have a wellness initiative and in this wellness initiative is where we put people over profit. So you’ll find that our employees, all our staff members have breakfast and lunch every single day. They get a fruit every single day and they have every single month they’ve got access to medical care. So if they feel unwell or need to see a nurse or a counselor at any given time they are able to do that once a month. They get that for free subsidized by the company. And we understand that transportation is really costly for them so we give them subsidies on the transportation. There’s a library in the workplace so they get to really upskill themselves because most of these employees of ours, artisans are coming from really poverty stricken backgrounds and some of them cannot convert in English. And we’re trying to create an environment where they come out better than when they came in. We also give them financial literacy so they can stretch their dollar. These are minimum age earners and we really get to show them how to really spread their wings with their salary and be able to take care of their home, take their kids to school and also develop themselves into becoming their own entrepreneurs. And we have seen a positive impact in that we have seen somebody that was a house help because she went from becoming our house. One of the employees was before a house helper at our own home and she got promoted to a packaging specialist and now she’s a lead packager. She’s actually bought a car for herself and has then given the car to her husband, who’s now an Uber driver. So now they’ve got two sets of income in the household. So you can see how we talk about sustainability and we talk about taking care of the environment, but we are doing that at a large scale. We are also caring about the community. So in a way, we’re creating sustainability without our community and growing the economy in that space. One of the other things that we also do is a Wellness Friday, which is Mindful Friday, which is the last Friday of the month, which is just after payday. Everybody gets a paid leave on that Friday and this is the time for them to take off work, reflect, maybe do their errands or just be we just want to make sure that whatever is on their mind, that they’re able to know that there’s a day that they can take care of their personal errands. And essentially that’s the goal. And if I were to give any advice to any other businesses, to say, it does not necessarily always have to be about the environment or about recycling, because many companies will say, Well, I’m in the services business, but how are you taking care of your people, your staff members? They’re also part of the environment.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Absolutely.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Wow. I’m a little bit emotional here because of your definition of sustainability, we might have to come up with a new word for it. It’s so broad and all encompassing and familial in the way that you approach your business as though you have a family. Which, I guess if we’re talking about Mo’s Crib, being a home seems like.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

A really natural thing.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes. Wow. It’s so beautiful. Thank you for doing that. You need to speak in the US market and get companies to hear that message. Like, this is what sustainability really can look like. I love it. That’s amazing. Tell me, why is this work so important to you, too? Why do you need to have this sustainable business structure? Yeah, I’ll just leave it at that.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

For me, I will say that it’s very fulfilling. I’m thinking about I mean, before we owned our own businesses, we were employees, and before we were employees, we were the general population in South Africa, the average black South African that had also faced their own fear of challenges. And so coming into the business and being able to be what many might term a capitalist, we had to come with a mind of not forgetting where we come from, which is that when we were an average black South African, we would have appreciated to go to school or. Work and have someone actually give you lunch, because you’ve experienced days where you went to work without lunch or without money to buy lunch. And we’ve also been in environments at work where you really feel like it’s contributing to your mental health or your mental illness or whatever you might tame it, or your stress, let’s just call it your stress levels, et cetera. And so we had to think about if we are going to be business owners and we’re going to bring people in apart from the actual business on it. But looking at the people, how are we treating them? Is it in a way in which it represents what you would want for yourself? And from the business aspect of it with what we do is that we really wanted to make sure that we put very good products in the market because we ourselves, we love to have good products and because we are so well exposed. We’ve traveled the world and we’ve seen that there’s actually so much we’re missing out on in terms of good products in South Africa. Let’s make the change. And so for me, personally, I think that it’s quite fulfilling. I wake up every morning and I feel very happy about it, no matter the challenges that we face in our business and how hard it can be sometimes. But it’s not just for myself and Mo, but it’s for everyone else who’s really pulling that effort to make the business what it is. And we have to give credit to them and we have to make sure that we create a very healthy work environment. And Diana. We’ve seen that. We’ve seen that our employees are very happy, genuinely happy. There’s an open door policy. We communicate very well with them, even though we are their leaders. There’s a very good, healthy work environment. And even when you do walk to our warehouse and our offices, you feel that there’s this wholesomeness that we’ve cultivated.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yeah, lovely. Well. So what’s next for Mo’s Crib? What will we be seeing next? Will you be doing it right now you’re at Creighton Barrel and Target, correct?

 

Mo Mokone:

 

That’s correct. We’re at Creighton Barrel. We’re also online, so direct to the consumer, people can actually access our baskets or our products online directly from our website. What’s next? We’ve got exciting collaborations coming up with Creighton Barrel at the end of the year, towards the end of the year, in the autumn and winter season. And we also have a Christmas drop with them, which is really exciting because we’re changing the game on.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Oh, my goodness.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

Decorative ornaments no longer have to be plastic. Diana so this is really quite revolutionary and we cannot wait. We’ve got more exciting stuff. We will be growing in the US. In a big way, where we’re going to put it out there in the universe, whoever’s watching or listening, that one day we’re going to probably have a store. A storefront in New York or La. God knows our dream. We’re hoping that we’ll be in Soho somewhere.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes, maybe in Seattle. Because I’ll tell you, your products would do very well in the Northwest. We are all very sure about it. Recycled and environmentally conscious in the Northwest, for sure. Wow.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Okay, great.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Put that on your list.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

We will definitely put it on right now.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

I know the home.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Okay.

 

Mo Mokone:

 

So they will be able to receive our baskets really well.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

Yes. Agreed. Agreed. I’m looking at my basket now as you’re talking. Yes. Well, Mo and Michelle, I really enjoyed our conversation. Our time is almost up. I always like to ask everybody this one question, and that is, are there any women leaders or rising stars out there that you would like to elevate for the work that they’re doing right now?

 

Mo Mokone:

 

I would definitely like to elevate Michelle, because I look up to her, and I’m really inspired and motivated by her because I know her story, and I know what it took for her to get to where she is. And she brings me up every time I’m feeling sad or down about the business or the challenges that we experience. I load shedding. She really knows how to get me up. And I think that most of the time, she also does not see the value that she brings to not only the business, but the community at large, being the one that’s really shedding the light and spearheading the change that we’re seeing in South Africa, in the world, black women actually doing it. I was feeling so stressed this morning about business related issues, and she mentioned to me that, remember, at six P.m., we have a podcast. You will definitely be feeling very well, and your mood would have changed by then, and it wasn’t her. Right. And so I really just want to say that she’s my biggest inspiration. Also my late mother, who’s not here, who really led us to where we are today, who really said to us, showed the world that here I am. I am here, and I am here to make a difference. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. So I would really give it to those women because I know them personally, and I know their story.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

That’s so sweet.

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

That is so sweet. Thank you so much, Mo. Diana, you cannot expect me to answer that question, okay? The reason I say this is because what Mo is talking about, we always talk about it. We have always talked about the fact that we are well, I always also say that us combined, myself and Mo combined, is my biggest inspiration. And because we know one another’s journey. Many times we’ve admired people, and we’ve seen people do such wonderful things. But when you actually have experiences where we’ve seen certain people who we’ve looked up to, and you find that what they truly stand for does not represent what you know them for, and that we have always said that we are one another’s biggest inspirations. Because if we know one another’s journeys and what we’ve been through and what we had to go through to get what we have, that it was not that easy. And we don’t really truly know other people’s journeys that are outside of our experience. I totally agree with Mo in the sense that we truly are rooting for one another. Respect.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

I love that. Beautiful. Wow. We’ve been talking with Mo and Michelle McCone, co founders and co CEOs of Mo’s Crib. Can you remind everybody where we can learn more about your company?

 

Michelle Mokone:

 

Yes. So on. Instagram. We are at Moscrip. That’s MoS Crib. And we’ve got a website, www.moscript.com. And we also are available. Our products are also available@target.com and also at Queen Barrel stores and also online.

 

Diana Fryc:

 

And I encourage all of you listeners to, next time you’re near a Creighton barrel or a Target, just go and take a peek at the product. You may not have room for it and not be looking for something, but just to kind of get inspired about what’s possible. Definitely make the trip. Because I can tell you in person, these baskets have so much more gravitas than the online. Online can only do so much. It does a great job. The website has amazing storytelling, but seeing the basket in person is absolutely essential to kind of get how special they are. Yeah. I want to thank you both today for joining me from the Dark After Hours. And I am so happy to have spent this time with you, and I look forward to seeing what you do moving forward. And I want to also thank all of our listeners of course, thank all of our listeners for our time today. If you like this episode, please share it with a friend. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time on The Gooder podcast 

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For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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