Mantis Prints was founded in 1998 by Ena Heese, a Cape Town artist and textile designer. After returning home to South Africa from a 13-year exile in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Ena found inspiration in the patterns and symbols of her home continent. A career that began in costume and set design, lay the foundation for the creation of a textile design company. A company born of the imagery that evoked the world she had left and now returned to. A new beginning for a both a country and herself. The brand, “Mantis Prints” and in particular that of a praying mantis, was derived from reading Heart of the Hunter whilst living in exile.
The company has undergone a steady evolution of both its business and its designs. Early designs were inspired by Ghanaian Adinkra calabash printing. This traditional symbolism rooted within the culture, coupled with the patterns found in the natural beauty of the continent, have become synonymous with Mantis Prints. The Cape floral kingdom, one of only five floral kingdoms in the world, formed the inspiration for later designs. These unique floral patterns inspire globally, while being contained locally within this special region of Southern Africa. All new designs continue to draw on these aesthetic principles.
With humble beginnings in craft markets and various retail outlets, the business soon expanded with the help of the Design Indaba and the Cape Craft and Design Institute. Both played a crucial role in expanding the reach of Mantis Prints. Soon the first outlet was opened in the city, which eventually relocated to the now bustling Watershed situated at the iconic V&A Waterfront. This website is a testament to over 20 years of design and hard graft. Sadly Ena passed away 6th of May 2021. Forever loved.