I design and produce a range of leather bags with a focus on functionality and affordability. I really enjoy designing and it’s my favourite part of what I do, I often design for myself or people I know and what they would want to wear and I find that those bags always sell the best because I’ve really put a piece of myself into the design. I could draw for hours and love spending time picking the perfect leather for a specific style then working on samples and finally bringing the finished pieces to my customers, it’s a long process and I really put my heart and soul into my designs.
How did you start your brand?
I studied fashion and textiles at CSM in London, this gave me an excellent start for opening my business as I have a wide knowledge of different materials and how to work with them and also developed my eye for detail. I started selling vintage clothing and accessories in 2011 and quickly found a love for vintage leather bags, so I began designing my own bags inspired by designs I came across over the years. I now design and produce a range of leather bags focusing on timeless design, functionality and travel with a classic vintage style which helps me remember where I started. I aim to make my bags classic and timeless, just like vintage clothing.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Being able to support charities and push for a more sustainable and ethical future in fashion is something I feel very lucky to be able to do. I am fortunate to run a small business where I can have a close working relationship with my supplier who I know personally and speak to on a daily basis. This has enabled me to really focus on building a conscientious business, ensuring the factories I use are ethical and eco aware. I also support worthy charities like the Sumatran Orang-utan Society, Surfers Against Sewage and Friends of the Earth and I am a member of the Sussex Wildlife Trust who fulfil essential conservation work in Sussex (where I am based). I work openly with the workshop to ensure the environment is a fair, healthy and happy one and challenge my suppliers to report any ethical issues they identify.
What advice would you give to your past self when you were first starting out?
When I first started my business I felt like I was fumbling around in the dark, although I had amazing support from my family. Every single thing I did was new and I was determined to do as much as I could myself to keep my costs down, so I had to research, ask questions and do a lot of guess work. Some things worked and some didn’t, I ended up paying a lot of money for a website that I wasn’t very happy with which was probably my biggest pit fall. However I think I would tell myself “you are going to make mistakes but it isn’t the end of the world, keep trusting your judgement and you will grow with your business”.
Every year thousands of tonnes of leather end up on the cutting room floor, in an effort to promote a more sustainable alternative last year I started developing products made from leather off-cuts which would otherwise be wasted. After market testing I found it was a popular concept and had feedback evidence that customers liked the idea of a more sustainable product. So I am now developing a sustainable range made entirely from leather off-cuts which would otherwise be wasted which will be available later this year.