Laura Bell from Laura Jane Design. Image supplied.
Laura Bell is the founder and designer of leather handbag label Laura Jane Design which she launched in late 2018. Laura didn’t start out making handbags though, the label began as a homewares brand and evolved into handbags and accessories when Laura started working more with leather and fell in love with the material. Each bag is beautifully crafted and handmade in Laura’s Marlborough workroom, and she draws inspiration from the beauty of nature for her designs which have grown a loyal following.
We caught up with Laura to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
My latest leather collection consists of bright, vibrant fun colours that pop. Deep fuchsia and teal through to coral and bright orange. Because the majority of my handbags are custom made to order for my clients I mix, match and change the available options many times throughout the year to offer a range of colours and styles for my clients to choose from. I believe that if you are investing money in a special piece such as a bespoke handmade handbag, that handbag should carry you through all seasons and most importantly be a reflection of the person it is made for. Therefore I don’t have collections as such, every handbag I make is different in some way. I love hearing from my clients once they have received their bag and they tell me ‘I love my bag! It is so ME!’ That’s a win in my books and is what keeps me going every day!
What made you become a designer?
I have always been into art and design. All through high school I studied design subjects. I learnt how to sew at a young age. After having my children I was looking at getting back into work but it was so hard to find something to do that worked around my children so my ultimate goal was to be able to work from home. I actually started off designing and making homeware! Ottomans, furniture etc. I was given some leather so I made my first handbag and it soon spiraled out of control. If you talk to anyone who works with leather they will tell you the same. Once you have the leather bug that’s it. There is no going back!
Handbags by Laura Jane Design.
What inspires you?
Leather! I get asked so often what led me to making handbags and the simple answer is leather. I love that every hide used is unique, some of the waxed leathers have fat wrinkles and scars and marks which all add to the character. Leather is such a beautiful medium to work with and every hide I use is treated with the utmost respect and used in such a way that I feel showcases that leather to its fullest. From the moment I started using leather my ethos has always been, ‘respect the leather and therefore respect the animal that it came from’
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
I’m a mum! So for me comfort and versatility all while looking great is really important. I love a good classic tee and linen is my go to at the moment. And don’t forget a big snuggly cardi for winter. When I design a bag I want that bag to be as versatile as possible while still looking amazing. A handbag needs to look great but it needs to ‘work’ well too.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Our little slice of heaven in rural Marlborough. I feel blessed that my children can grow up in the fresh air and space that living in the country offers.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A great black handbag that you love! It goes with everything and will be by your side most days.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
No! I always think fashion is such a personal thing and a great way to express yourself. Be unique! Confidence is the key. Maybe that could be the style rule. Make sure what ever you wear, you wear it with confidence.
Handbags by Laura Jane Design.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
To try and keep up with the demand for handbags I made up some bags in-between doing custom orders to do my very first drop of handbags on my website. It sold out within a couple of hours. That was a pretty massive wow moment for me! I was actually blown away.
What can’t you live without?
My family of course. I know that a lot of people feel the same way. After the lockdown last year and spending so much time with my partner and children it really brought back what’s important in life. Oh, and my sketch book.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
In public? Socks and sandals, lol. Perfectly acceptable for a quick trip out to the vege garden though right?