Weald Handmade started with my own fruitless search for the perfect bag. A maker at heart, I decided that there was only one thing for it and set about to making my own. After being repeatedly asked by friends where they could lay their hands on one, Weald Handmade was born.
I graduated with a law degree and started working at a charity supporting people with learning disabilities. As a self taught dressmaker and pattern cutter, I’d always made my own clothes, but it was when I made my first bag that a spark was lit in me. I knew I needed to take this passion further and that is what led to me eventually quitting my job to make Weald a reality.
Work/life balance is very important to me and I want to enjoy the simple things in life, like trips to the beach, days sat at the park and dining with friends and family as well as creating and developing my business.
After only recently “properly” returning to work after having my son, I’m looking at the business from a new perspective. Weald developed quickly with the contract with TOAST and there was initially little time to plan or guide the direction of the business. I’m now working on building up the brand identity and making sure the business fits with my life, steering the direction of Weald to work alongside raising my two children.
I want to further build relationships with independent retailers whose customers value classic design and “slow fashion” craftsmanship. I’m not looking to compete with the big brands, I just want to concentrate on what we do best: classic designs made-by-hand with lots of love and attention.
I have a close working relationship with our leather merchants in London who source the best Italian leather for me. Walking around their warehouse is initially rather overwhelming but you can easily lose a few hours in there soaking up their knowledge and passion whilst browsing the array of colours and textures that they offer.
Bags are either press cut by Mick in Leicester or hand cut by me in Leigh-on-Sea, where the bags are also prepped, stitched and finished by hand. The straps are cut, edge dyed and finished in Dalston, East London. No factories or sewing machines are used at any stage in the making of the bags.
I’m inspired very much by minimally classic shape and form. I like to see the natural form of the material I'm using. My design process is very much lead by the material itself. I have a basic form/shape in mind but never draw my designs. I sit with a mountain of different leather scraps, bending, cutting and manipulating the leather. I like the way the design organically develops with the raw material very much at the forefront.
The shape of the flap on the Edith satchel was inspired by a natural scarring on one of the hides. My scrap book of inspiration mainly holds images of architecture, geometrics and haute couture fashion - the amazing shapes a simple piece of fabric can make always astounds me. As a self taught dress maker and pattern cutter, I draw a lot of inspiration from these techniques. This can be seen quite clearly in my Dart and Nellie clutch bags with the use of darts to create their form.
I actually looked to my Instagram community to help with the naming of the new collection. A couple are people's daughter’s names (including my own) and grandparents. One lady commented to say her daughter consistently fails to find plates/mugs etc with her name on and how her daughter would flip to know there was a bag named after her.
I generally have a favourite from each collection. I mostly wear my Audrey Satchel, so coupled with this being my best seller, I'd have to say this one is my favourite. Although I am keen to get my own Hattie bag made up but I just keep slipping down the priority list!
The thing I enjoy most about my work is actually having the opportunity to create and design. My workshop is in the attic at our home. I work away with the skylights open, sound of birdsong in the background and lose myself in the making for a good few hours. For me, it's a labour of love. When I'm not making, it doesn't feel right. It's a chance to be defined not as a mum or wife, but just be me. When I'm making bags, I'm unwinding and relaxing, free from the everyday stresses of life. And then to actually see people wearing one of my bags, that's a great feeling. I have to stop myself running down the street to ask for a photo. In terms of the actual process, I get to sit down, can do it anywhere in the house and it is very therapeutic. It's also the first time you see the form of the bag taking shape.
I live locally and Village Green has always been a fantastic event, growing year to year. So this year I decided I needed to be part of that. If I get to nip away from the March of the Makers tent I'll be heading to watch Kate Nash.
isit Weald Handmade at March of the Makers all day
Tagged in: Weald H&made
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