Designer Suzie Eggleton from Velvet Heartbeat. Image supplied.
Suzie Eggleton is the designer behind ethical brand Velvet Heartbeat which produces beautiful handbags and accessories. Each piece is handmade in New Zealand using cruelty-free materials with a focus on slow fashion and ethical production. Suzie is conscious of being as environmentally friendly as possible while creating timeless bags and accessories that are designed to last.
We caught up with Suzie to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
I try to work outside of building regular collections so that I create less waste and aim for something more timeless and seasonless, that way it feels like something you might hang onto for a long time rather than a throwaway trend. Instead I produce pieces when the inspiration strikes, that being said I have released a few fresh pieces recently, namely for the range of pineapple leather accessories I’ve been building on. Pineapple leather is a really versatile and sustainable alternative to conventional and synthetic leathers. It’s made from the fibres of pineapple leaves which is a former waste product of pineapple farming, plus provides some extra income to the farmers! I knew I wanted to work with this amazing textile from day one and so far I’ve recreated a few of our best sellers like the Chloe bag and some fresh pieces like the Kate pouch.
What made you become a designer?
I think I always wanted it, it was always a daydream of mine to have my own shop or brand and I always sewed at home. I did pursue other avenues first, mainly in the not-for-profit sector because it felt like I needed to have more of a “real job”! However I decided at 27 to pack it all in and head to fashion school and finally build my dream life!
What inspires you?
People usually, I’m definitely a people watcher in real life and I’m often inspired by characters in films or songs. Inspiration can be anywhere though, I often remind myself to put my phone away and take it all in. All the pieces in the range are named after people or characters I feel inspired by like Chloe Sevigny, Winona Ryder or Darlene Conner.
Headband and bag by Velvet Heartbeat.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
I like the idea of an easy-cool so I wear a lot of denim and tees and a little bit of edginess which often comes through in accessories. I’d like to think my designs replicate this by being staple pieces with a statement, often through hardware such as a chunky zip or the little signature studs I add to the straps.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
I think my hand-forged silver hoop earrings from Wanaka based jeweller Niki White, I wear them all the time with so many different outfits and they definitely add that edgy cool that I love. Plus it feels special to have something handmade by an artist rather than just chomped out of a machine, there is care and experience infused in it. I never usually treat myself to new things so they were a small gift to myself when things were starting to pick up for my brand.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
Of course I’d have to say a great quality transitional bag! Something that you know will work with a number of different looks, can be dressed up or down and will suit you as you change your style over time. I think versatility is a must have for any investment in fashion, so being able to style an item in different ways always ensures you’ll keep reaching for it and be glad you have it.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
If in doubt always wear black! I don’t care what Anna Wintour thinks, it always looks good. Plus you can always add a pop of colour with accessories or a bold lip colour.
Bags by Velvet Heartbeat.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Every time I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate and connect with other creatives! As a small business it is the most effective way of pooling ideas, resources and audience. It is also really emotionally rewarding to gather people together for a common goal. I think my two favourite collabs have been working with The Good Trend on our range of hair accessories from remnant fabric, and bringing together 6 amazing women for the last issue of my ethical fashion and lifestyle zine Choose Nice.
What can’t you live without?
My family and my cat – love is all you need.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Fur (unless it’s faux of course!)