We go behind the brand with Steffi Halm of Batavia House, the sole UK dealer for the brilliant South African brand Melvill & Moon. Melvill & Moon are a well-established brand known throughout Africa for their luxurious safari luggage and their range simply demands you head out on an adventure! Let’s speak to Steffi and find out more about this unique business that is as intriguing as it is exciting!
When did you found Batavia House and why?
We’ve been going for exactly a year this month! In February 2019 I was in South Africa with my husband, who plays polo with the founder of Melvill & Moon – Rick Melvill. Rick always rocks up at polo games (or picks us up from the airport) in his amazing old Rolls-Royce. It’s packed with picnic bags, champagne coolers and a field bar. Naturally there is a clutter of chairs and tables to boot – with just enough room for the polo bags! Absolutely everything is Melvill & Moon and it’s gorgeous!
Rick approached us after a match one day to chat about UK dealers and to see if we had any recommendations. Melvill & Moon is a brand I simply adore, and I jumped at the chance to work with them. The rest is history! Here at Batavia House we are now the sole UK dealer for the brand. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing their amazing products with more customers in the UK and getting a sneak preview of what they have planned next.
Tell us a little more about Melvill & Moon and which are your favourite products from the collection.
Melvill & Moon is a safari equipper and supplier that has been making a name for itself in South Africa for around 30 years. The company is family owned and run and their amazingly positive approach to life is infectious. Their motto is Laudator Temporis Acti (translating as ‘the romance of an age gone by’) and it is a passion that drives everything they do. Their products include safari luggage, campaign furniture, vehicle seat covers and sporting accessories.
When you’re not heading off on safari or a high-class glamping trip, these pieces make excellent additions to a shoot day, point-to-point or Henley Regatta picnic or Royal Ascot spread. For me the absolute must-haves are the Djinn bar and the Djembe wine cooler. But I really would like every single piece in the collection!
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
We live in Newmarket as my husband is a racehorse vet, so we’re in a very horsey area of the UK. Every day I will walk my dogs and ride my dressage horse. As well as taking care of every single little thing there is to do when you run a business! I do the marketing for Batavia House, so you’ll often find me posting on Instagram, checking Facebook adverts, chatting to the press and liaising directly with our customers. With Batavia House I’m offering the best possible service at all times and if that means taking extra pictures of products so people can see exactly how they work, so be it!
What are your aims for Batavia House?
I want to bring my love of Melvill & Moon to more people in the UK and Batavia House is the conduit for all my plans! Melvill & Moon evoke a wonderful and quirky era gone by. Their products are just of the most exceptional quality that I want to share them with the UK’s outdoor enthusiasts. That slightly off-the-wall approach to entertaining is something the UK and South Africa share, so it’s just a question of getting the brand better known. When people get to their website and start browsing, they will find something they want – without fail. I’m creating wedding lists too – it’s been mentioned to me several times and how amazing would getting a Melvill & Moon wedding present be!
Are you stocking other brands on the Batavia House website?
At the moment it’s just Melvill & Moon, but I’m totally open to hearing about other brands that will complement what they do. I’m looking forward to heading to the Game Fair again later in the year and chatting to other companies as well as customers!
What are the moments from the past year that just make you say ‘wow’!
Our launch at the Game Fair in 2019 was incredible – we sold out of almost everything! The press have been so supportive; The Field have featured us three times in the What’s New section/Christmas gift guides. Then there was the time that the UK head of a very well-known international company visited the Batavia House Newmarket showroom and bought one of every single item. That was absolutely mind-blowing.
What would you love to see Melvill & Moon make that they don’t at the moment?
I adore my dogs, so it has to be a dog range! I keep pestering the team in SA… We are already bringing out quite a few more bespoke items too. You can choose the design of your bar now depending on your favourite tipple, so there’s space for whiskey and ice or space for champagne. The more feedback we get the better it becomes, so we love to hear from customers.
What’s the very first thing you do if you have a free day away from the business?
Well every day I get to walk my dogs and ride my dressage horse which is wonderful. But other than that it has to be travel, entertaining and spending time with friends. I love skiing (but I hate the cold!) and heading off on adventures. Driving the skeleton coast of Namibia was simply extraordinary; I’m not the type to sit on the beach all day. I’ve done the Cape Argus Cycle Race 8 times – that’s 110km of racing and one year, Lance Armstrong was there too! I really do like to be busy and always trying to do better!
How can people find out more?
Please follow Batavia House on Instagram and Facebook – I promise the pictures are gorgeous… Then you’ll see all the beautiful products and hear the latest news on event we’re heading to and new lines. You can also browse the collection on the Melville & Moon website until the Batavia House site is up and running! Thank you for coming behind the brand with myself and Batavia House.