1. What was your inspiration behind the Sash & Belle range?
I have always searched for handbags that would help me, whether it was for work or out with my kids and I never quite found what I wanted or at a price point that wasn't ridiculous for what it was.
So, I set myself a mission to design handbags that combine fashion and function at an affordable price. I love designing for mums, busy women and professional career woman. It would drive me crazy digging through my bag trying to find my keys or carrying a handbag and a laptop bag and I thought there has got to be a better way to do this and have it look like a stylish handbag. That is where my inspiration came from and my inspiration continues from feedback from our Sash & Belle customers that are so happy with how functional their Sash & Belle handbag is.
2. Can you summarise the process of creating a bag design?
Creating a new Sash & Belle handbag takes about 6 months, I first come up with the purpose of the bag ie work handbag, nappy bag or everyday bag – and my design process generally starts from the inside out as I design for function and organisation all while creating a timeless and stylish handbag design on the outside.
I also love to ask women if they had the chance to create and design their own bag what would it look like or have in it (I love to ask my own customer base and interactive facebook groups for their opinions). I use mine and their ideas to create that perfect handbag. There's always a place inside for your keys, glasses, water bottle, laptop, tech cords, makeup etc
I then use a fashion illustrator to sketch every element of my design, before sending the detailed drawing to my manufacturer in China. Usually, there will be two samples per bag, just so everything is completely perfect and of an amazing quality. I also travel to China once a year to meet with my manufacturers and talk about my new designs.
3. What are some of the challenges you face with Sash & Belle?
Brand awareness has always been a challenge. Starting your own label and designs on a small budget takes time. You could have the best handbag designs in the world but telling people about them and getting them to use the bag and then tell their friends etc takes time. Another challenge was finding the right manufacturers and getting the quality right. We work with a manufacturer now that is fantastic.
4. What's a typical day like for you, at Sash & Belle?
When you are doing something you love, time goes by quickly, when I was working in the public service my days never went this quick!! My day starts with getting my 6 & 8-year-old ready for school, dropping them off and then the business day starts. I have been doing a pop up shop in a shopping centre in Canberra for 6 months, so my time is spread between running that, designing new bags, liaising with my manufacturers as I am in the middle of manufacturing a new collection and getting new samples made for SS18-19.
We have several retailers that stock Sash & Belle so I am chatting to them and packing their orders. I am also actively seeking new retailers that have a similar ideal to Sash & Belle. Also, we are carefully packing our online orders and sending them to our wonderful customers!! Then it is back to pick up kids, homework, play, dinner, bed and repeat, but I love it!
5. What are the five things you couldn't run your business without?
There is many but here are my top 5
· Sash & Belle new and loyal customers – couldn't succeed if I didn't have those
· My trusty laptop
· Website – www.sash-belle.com.au
· A good graphic design tool – I use Canva
· Business systems
6. What advice do you have for those wanting to start a business?