Twenty odd years ago I started to move from sewing with
fabric to working with leather, it seemed a natural progression for me to make.
I love to sew and from my teenage years , when I would buy a length of fabric on
a Thursday and have a dress ready to wear on Friday evening, it has always
seemed an instinctive thing for me to be doing. Moving forward a few years I
discovered handbags, compact and exciting, full of potential, a mixture of
technical issues and creative possibilities.
My customers are my sounding board and my suppliers of critique. They vary so
much, no particular age group or demographic, they find their way to my studio
deep in rural Scotland and, in recent years to my website . It is one of the
pleasures in working as I do that I get to know my customers, some become
friends, and they come back, often many times over the years!
I love working with leather, the colors, the textures and that luxurious feel
that only real, high quality leather can give. I like to continually evolve,
never static , embracing experimentation as part of design resolution and keep
working, reworking the material that I personally continue to fall in love with.
I am on a continuous quest to find exciting hardware, something a bit unique,
anything that helps to inspire me to move on to my next bag, but quality is key,
no plastic, no thin , cheap linings that will fall apart, my bags have to stand
the test of time. If I see one of my early bags, decades old, still in use, it
makes my day
When I moved to this lovely part of Scotland I began to develop my ideas and
skills, designing bags and discovering what leather can do. After a few
tentative steps towards wholesaling, I decided ,fairly early on, that I really
wanted to retain a direct contact with my materials and my customers, I didn’t
want to become an administrator and outsource the production. Luckily in those
early days the internet was beginning to be a useful tool in reaching people who
liked what I was doing. A combination of sales from my studio, the web and
carefully selected shows has kept me very busy and continues to do so.
Some time ago I was approached to make a number of conference folders to be
presented and used by Tony Blair, President Bush et al at the G8 conference that
was being held, that year, at Gleneagles in Scotland. If I am honest, that was
probably one of my most stressful commissions, the stakes were high and I was
slightly out of my comfort zone but I was proud of the final result, beautiful
soft black leather (from a Scottish tannery ,of course) specially commissioned
solid silver corners with a G8 hallmark and all lined in a deep purple pigskin,
sumptuous! I wonder if all those heads of state have my work sitting on their
desk top or how many time one of my pieces has traveled round the world !
Its is a strange thing but most handbag makers that I have met or read about
always talk about their passion and pleasure for their work, I am not
embarrassed to identify with that sentiment, we are a lucky breed!