I made my first bag over 15 years ago when I just moved to Canada. I wanted a new purse but couldn't find anything I liked. So I thought, I'd make a bag. How hard could it be? Having never made a bag before it seemed very doable. Sometimes ignorance can really work for you.
My background as a craft consultant gives me a certain fearlessness in creating and making new things. My main job was to come up with contemporary and functional products to be made by South East Asian villagers where the source material was locally accessible, overlooked or was just plain waste. These products would then be sold to resorts, hotels or gifts shops in the region, thus generating income for the village.
In that same spirit, I search west coast thrift stores to find quality wool jackets which I upcycle into one-of-a-kind bags. Repurposing the jacket pockets, sleeve cuffs and other bits into bag pockets, cover flaps and straps.
The designs for bags and accessories come about rather organically. It happens when customers at the Salt Spring market or the studio tell me what they need and I try to figure out how to make that. I started out with making Recycled Jacket Messenger bags. Then someone wanted a laptop bag, so I made flat ones with extra padding. Another person had a bigger laptop, so I made a larger Carry-all messenger bag. A cyclist wanted a rucksack that could convert into a messenger bag, and so we now have the Urban Rucksack.
Two years ago, interior designer friends passed me upholstery sample books that they didn’t need anymore. Pages from these have since been made into Zip Purses. And, when the pages are patchworked together, they make the colourful Stuff It! Footstools. A footstool with a zippered bottom that doubles up as storage for guest linen or bulky winterwear.
Our studio will always be coming up with new designs and products. So long as they are sustainable, handmade and one of a kind.