Kerrie (the ‘leather lady’) offered me a job and I decided to leave university to take up the opportunity to follow my passion. Kerrie allowed me to spend my spare time in her workshop and it’s there that I made my first leather handbag, from scraps of leather. It’s the most cherished bag I have ever made. She taught me much of what I know about working with leather and I worked for her until I returned to Christchurch after the earthquakes in 2011.
I started The Little Leather Co from a spare bedroom in early 2013 and now have a workshop at home in Kaiapoi, where I’ve been for two years. It’s a constant struggle trying to keep it neat and tidy because I spread things from one end to the other when I’m working.
Working with leather is very different from using fabric, both the equipment and techniques. I have a variety of tools and machinery but I tend to just use just a select few. It’s important to keep the tools sharp and the machines well-oiled to do a good job.
I use a variety of leathers but use only New Zealand fur. I am also introducing some leather with wool bags to the range for the upcoming fete’s in Culverden, Geraldine and Winton.
Each handbag is designed and made by me, from the first cut to the last stitch, and I get a real pleasure from making quality, functional bags. I love the patternmaking too, it’s the important step that transforms the idea into reality and is often the longest part of the process as it involves a lot of problem solving.
Little Leather handbags are not made in huge quantities; usually a customer will pick a style and colour and I’ll make it to order just for them. A lot of time goes into each piece and it’s satisfying to craft handbags which will last for many years.