This is our latest post in a series of featured makers. We are introducing our makers one at a time and giving you a bit of a behind-the-scenes story and insights to their practice. Today we would like to introduce:
Katie Harrowell – Bramble & Burr
First up. Who are you and what do you do?
Katie Harrowell, from a little town north of Manchester in England. My brand is Bramble & Burr Fine Leather Goods. I make leather handbags, belts, drinking mugs and heaps of other leather items. I also make Equine products, bridles, girths etc & dog collars
How and why did you get started (instead of getting a proper job like your mother told you)?
I am actually a Master Saddler, that’s my day job. My time is spent fitting saddles & making bridles for people. I started in handbags because a friend asked if I could make her a clutch for her wedding in New York. Not knowing where to start I had to do some research & design but it all worked out in the end (I hope, she used the bag and I hope not out of pity 😂). I got bitten by the bug then of wanting to make bespoke bags. I love the strange and unusual but that often doesn’t sell so I do much more normal things nowadays.
What was the first thing you made?
On the handbag front the clutch for my friends wedding. Given the opportunity again it would be much more impressive
Who or what influences you or inspires you?
I love the texture of leather, I love bright colours, taking something that is an everyday item and making a bag to replicate it is where I find most fun as each different type of leather, heck each hide, acts differently, cuts differently, drapes differently. Everything is a new challenge
What is your favourite part of making?
I love getting a new idea and cutting it out. I am not a great planner so I often get to a stop point where I can’t figure out how to get it to a finished product. I have several unfinished pieces on my bench waiting for the penny to drop on how to complete it. Those penny drop moments happen at the strangest of times then I have to rush to get it done whilst it is clear in my head.
How do you market your business?
Facebook mainly, marketing is not my forte
What tips do you have for others starting out in this game?
Don’t expect many people to like what you like, especially if your tastes are a little obscure like mine.
Leather is an expensive medium to work with so also plan your designs really well, not at all like me.
Don’t get upset when someone waxes lyrical about how wonderful something is, how perfect it is, how cheap your things are ‘You should be charging more’ just for them to put it back and walk away
If you could gift one of your creations to anyone living or dead. Who would that be and what would you give them? Why?
Now that’s a toughie. I would have loved to have made something for my grandpa, if I was 20 years older a briefcase would have been perfect as he was a solicitor
Do you have any new ideas on the drawing board?
Not at the moment, my brain is full of saddles
World Domination! How will you achieve it?
I don’t actually want world domination. My bags take too long too make, I like to have some me time too haha
What is next for you?
I’d love to be in a couple more shops, in a position where I could rotate designs more often, keeping things fresh
Thanks for sharing your time and giving us an insight to your brand. We look forward to seeing your development and growth. Bramble & Burr can be found on their Facebook page and in-store at The Department of Curiosities and Fine Things in Napier, and other fine galleries and showcase spaces around New Zealand.