August 2020

Hello, everyone! I’ve finally moved back to my studio. Now I can work more effectively and quietly for at least few hours a day, as no one will be running to me every minute asking where the socks are, what is for breakfast and whether we are having a family water gun fight today?)).

This month has been a busy one. Besides moving back (which is not only a relief but a light logistic nightmare) I have also been busy planning and developing various classes and workshops aimed at beginners and intermediates. I hope these classes will be fun and will also help my core business, my Ten Cloudy brand, to survive.

This month I had a very nice final interview with QEST panel, which is a charity dedicated to excellence in British craftsmanship through investing in talent, supporting education, sustaining skills and promoting excellence. Hopefully, I will get a grant for further training, fingers crossed).

The panel once again drew my attention to the fact that I should continue developing my own luxury leather bags brand, and training others should be an important but a secondary direction, and certainly not the only one)).

Recently, I also had a live video streaming event with Handmadeinbritain, where I demonstrated some edge finishing techniques and answered questions. Unavoidably, one of the topics raised was sustainability in leathercraft and fashion. I am personally of the opinion that the fashion industry has basically discredited itself. Big fashion businesses chasing cheap mass production is clearly the wrong road to take. When something is too cheap to be true, someone is actually paying the price. You might have seen recently in the news that garment workers at a factory in Leicester (in the middle of England, not somewhere in the Far East) apparently have been paid just 3.50 per hour!

Of course, against this background of low prices and almost slave labour a price of 500 GBP for a high quality Italian veg-tanned leather bag, which is fully lined with leatherboards backing, with Swiss zips and elements, lovingly handmade by an individual craftsperson suddenly seems like an impossible overpriced luxury. However, in reality, it is just a fair price for a good product. High quality sustainable handmade fashion items can not be cheap due to simple facts that good materials cost quite a lot, and labour, passion, and effort of highly trained professional artisans have to be compensated fairly. Colleagues, in your opinion, what is the luxury price threshold for hand-stitched expertly designed veg-tanned leather bag? I do not have a clear answer, but actually, I think I should even drop «luxury» off descriptions of my bags and keep educating customers about sustainability, slow fashion and real, everlasting value of truly high-quality handmade products.

Have a nice week! Natasha