In early 2000, I was studying mechanical engineering and thought I might make myself a backpack to use on my Vespa.
In the bungalow of my parents’ house in Coburg East, I bought some canvas and some backpack fabric and ‘borrowed’ my mum’s old Elna sewing machine. The result was a little crooked-looking but after some modifications and improvements it looked okay. A friend thought she might like one too, so I made my second backpack out of an op-shop suit jacket. This happened a few more times – backpacks in different sizes and shapes and over-the-shoulder bags made for friends.
A few months later, someone suggested I approach the recently opened Alice Euphemia boutique craft and fashion shop. I made five or six bags on consignment, and they sold out in a few weeks. I was studying at the time and figured I could use another income stream and decided to go in on a stall at St Kilda Market with two friends who were making and selling jewellery. I started making bags with Japanese kimono fabric feature panels and selling them every Sunday.
In about a year, the business outgrew the bungalow and exhausted the Elna sewing machine, so I decided to start looking for some studio space. I got a third of a room in the Nicholas Building on Flinders Lane with some friends and bought a secondhand industrial sewing machine, and then a second one.
The phrase 'trial and error' pretty much sums up the first years of my bag making career, but I’d like to think I’ve improved and innovated over the last thirteen years to produce a durable, functional and good-looking product. Using custom-designed digital prints instead of old coats, and high-grade industrial cordura and coated canvas instead of whatever’s lying around, doesn’t hurt either.
Designer & Maker