*This is a sponsored post.
When Stefanie Halm first reached out to me at the start of the year, I was intrigued by her brand, it’s story and the products. I have always loved the idea of safari, yet haven’t ever been and so, when I heard Steffi’s brand; Batavia House was designed around the safari lifestyle and South Africa, through being the exclusive UK distributor of safari outfitter – Melvill and Moon, I knew I wanted to forge a connection with her. I chose two products to test out; The Grogan Rucksak and the Safari Duffel bag ‘short’ – read on to hear what I thought.
What inspired you to launch Batavia House? I founded Batavia House (the exclusive distributor of Melvill & Moon) in February 2019 after a trip to South Africa. My husband plays polo with the founder of Melvill & Moon – Rick Melvill, who approached us post a game of polo looking for recommendations for a UK distributor, and the rest they say is history.
I lived in SA for 15 years and my husband for 5 years, we met in Cape Town and share the same love for SA, we come back a couple of times a year, as all our best friends are still here! Both of us love and live the brand, the heart of which is travel and adventure!
Melvill & Moon are over 30 years old, and are both well established and widely known throughout Africa. I felt there is a huge synergy between SA and the UK, from our mutual love of the outdoors, field-sports, our social lifestyles, collective passion for sports etc, the list goes on.
Was launching a business completely new to you beforehand? Yes, however I do come from a family run business background so I understand the 24/7 dedication, commitment, care and input that a small business requires. My parents instilled in us early that a) you’ve got to love what you are doing and b) customer care and support is everything. I very much live and love my brand and am thrilled when customers love it too!
Outside of work, when you’re not in South Africa, where would we find you? Outdoors for sure – travelling and exploring when I can, or if at we’re at home, out and about with my dogs and riding. I love Dressage! I love socialising, you are always welcome in our house and I love dinner parties or a social braai (SA version of a BBQ) accompanied by some good wine
Your least and most favourite thing about owning a business? As I mentioned already, I love it when I see happy customers enjoying MM as much as I do, becoming great customers/collectors and becoming part of the extended MM family. There is often a lot of chatting and bantering going on, exchanging of travel stories etc. With some customers, it is a very personal thing to shop with us, and we sell everything from wedding gifts to special birthdays. I love customising products for gifts such as our car-seat covers, and then hearing all about it afterwards, and of course receiving happy-customer’s photos.
If you press me for the least favourite part…I guess its that the shop never closes, so you have to be careful not to work 24/7 and saving yourself some vital downtime too.
If you were marooned on a desert island with one person and 3 items (nothing work related), who would you chose and what would they be? My husband, our 2 dogs… I guess I should be thinking practical things, like knives, sunscreen, matches, flash lamp etc – I will leave that to my husband, hopefully he can bring three items too? I’d probably pack a bottle of champagne or gin and our Harry Moon champagne bucket (it is a handy washbasin too!).
Most memorable business moment to date? Launching at the Game Fair in 2019, there were so many people, so many friendly faces with great banter. Seeing real people loving -and buying – Melvill & Moon was certainly a stick-out highlight for me so far.
If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently? No, I don’t think so. You can always improve on things for sure, but overall growing into where are today, a year post launch has just been great, and each day is a learning curve!
What does your perfect Sunday look like? Outdoors ideally spent in sunshine (if I could control it), more than likely spent walking our dogs or riding topped off with socialising and eating good food.
Hailed for its luxury luggage collection Melvill and Moon’s products are designed for and inspire adventure and travel.
The short Safari Duffel bag has got to be one of my favourite luggage products I’ve ever had the pleasure to test-out or own. I will be sad to say goodbye to this piece. However, I am sure it will go on to share adventures with others, as it has me. Hailed for their practicality, Melvill and Moon explain that Duffel bags, ‘unlike hard shell bags which don’t yield, these Duffels make packing easier.’ Strapping them to a roof-rack of a rugged off-roader, or chucking them in the boot of a truck, or as included on their website’s product description, ‘squash them into the hold of bush plane’ – a unique experience I’d imagine. With a strong and durable zip down the middle, again featuring that heavy duty canvas outer material for that classic safari aesthetic, lined with a stylish striped design on the inside.
The Duffel features handy interior pockets for valuables and a heavy duty webbing over the shoulder strap for ease when carrying, along with classic-style leather handles. At £245, I think this is a fair price for what can only be described as a quality, luxury and stylish safari inspired travel bag.
The Grogan Rucksak has, for the last few months been my absolute go to for outdoor adventures. From walks in the countryside for picnics with my cheeky, energetic godsons, to exploring the wilds of South Wales when we tested out the Jeep Wrangler Overland. A rucksack is the ultimate travel must-have, it’s practical, convenient and if it looks great, well that’s an added bonus! Melvill & Moon’s Grogan Rucksak ticks all of these boxes in true safari style. I have had ample opportunity to really test out this product. It is made from heavy duty 510g, 100% cotton canvas, giving it that instantly recognisable safari-look. Lined with handy interior pockets, outside zip-close compartments and heavy duty buckles and straps. It is comfortable to carry when full too without feeling clumpy or too heavy.
My conclusion – I love it. You do pay a premium for this product at £295, given it’s heritage and brand, however, in my opinion, you’ll only ever need to buy this once and you won’t ever need to consider another rucksack every again.
Picture on the left; Quentin O. Grogan in a Roorkee Uganda 1911.
Inspired by one of the most romantic stories from the grand safari era – The Grogan, Steffi tells me that the bag had been named after the intrepid suitor, who walked from Cairo to Cape Town to prove his worth to heiress Getrudde Wattan, whom he’d fallen in love with and hoped to marry. Grogan’s eventual triumph took two and a half years, during which he is thought to have overcome many challenges including hostile tribes, man-eating lions and cannibals! Not only did his wild and daring adventure secure Gertrude’s hand in marriage but it also made him somewhat of a legend, he was even granted an audience with Queen Victoria. Life took them to America, and onto Kenya, where he became the leading figure in the development of the Kenyan economy and settler community.
There are dozens of products to browse on Melvill & Moon’s website, from luggage to innovative travel furniture, portable gun-racks, safari inspired seat covers, hats and much more. Plus a wealth of information to inspire you to set off in pursuit of adventure. Steffi’s website for Batavia House is still under construction but her Instagram page; batavia_house is full of some of the most stunning photography you can find. If a safari wasn’t on your bucketlist, a quick look at Steffi’s Instagram, and it will be.
Until next time…
Lots of love,