my mom has a special talent for putting unrelated patterns & prints together when she’s designing. so i have a special place in my handmade heart for designers who do the same. lolafalk is one of those designers. her style is quirky & eclectic, making her bags fun, casual, formal, and chic all at the same time. i was thrilled to interview her for this week’s finding passion post.
as you say, your style is distinctively quirky & eclectic – using a variety of materials, styles and shapes to create your bags – what style or influence are you most passionate about right now?
I would say that at the moment I am fascinated with taking traditional bag styles and materials and turning them on their head a bit…I’m currently experimenting with vinyl and faux leathers to create hobo, laptop and messenger style bags that, with simple changes to the handles, pockets and closures, evoke a style that is decidedly Lolafalk. I love finding the “quirk” in tradition and want my bags to stand out, not in a blatant manner that screams “look at me,” is fleeting and only of the moment; but rather making a statement and having an eye-catching element that stands with time and is built to last. I want to project an eclectic style that has a classic element to it – 10 years from now it will still be a bag that women will want to carry around.
how did you find your passion for sewing & textiles? do you have a creative mentor that guided you?
My mom has always been a recreational sewer, and for the longest time tried to get me to learn a few basics on the sewing machine, if only to be able to hem my own pants. I rebelled for as long as I can remember…then about 2 years ago I decided to take on a simple tote bag project during an annual family visit to the Midwest, if only to pass the time. I had my mom teach me a few basics on the sewing machine to get started, and what started off as a side project quickly escalated into a full-fledged passion to create the types of handbag styles that I always wanted to have but could never find in a store or online. For that reason alone I credit my mom for being the person who opened this door of possibility for me.
tell me about one of the obstacles you had to overcome in becoming a full-time creator.
I am completely self-taught, and it was initially very hard to get people to take me seriously as a handbag designer, especially those who only thought of me as the person/career I was before venturing down this path. For the time being I still maintain a day job to sustain my handbag business, and while I am very grateful to have a solid means to financially support Lolafalk in these early stages, breaking into the fashion industry has been an exercise in redefining who I am to people. While it has been a challenging and slow-moving process, my determination and steadily growing success has, in particular over the past 6 months, really started to get the message out that this is what I do now and that I am carving a full-time career out of it. And that is the ultimate reward…getting to do what I love and love what I do for a living.
what is your creative process in designing a new bag?
As I haven’t been schooled in the traditional sense of handbag/fashion design, it is pretty unorthodox. I rarely ever sketch; most designs start in my head and are a trial-and-error process eked out on the sewing machine. This at times can be cumbersome, but it has worked for me so far. The one thing that leads me above everything else is my intuition. I have always had very specific ideas about my personal style, what works and what doesn’t; it’s easy for me to “yay” or “nay” a design idea pretty quickly. Combining my design intuition with the functional details that constitute a great bag always generates a lot of creative ideas…I just wish I could afford a sample maker! I make do with paper mockups, and then if the design seems feasible I’ll move onto the sewing machine from there.
I think the hardest part for me is general bag construction. So much of it is learning from experience, but I am relentless in the pursuit of quality and will spend hours, days and weeks working on a prototype until it reaches my sky-high standards of perfection.
if you weren’t pursuing your passion for bags, what other passion of yours would you like to pursue?
Before I started designing handbags (which consumes the majority of my free time now) I was always involved in some sort of DIY-type project – redecorating my living space, building furniture from scratch, painting, sculpting, “inventing” recipes…if the prospect of handbags didn’t exist for me then I would be creating (and likely trying to start a business pertaining to) something else. There are just too many ideas swimming around in my head! At times I get frustrated because I would love to completely redecorate my apartment, or start a food photography blog, or take tap dancing classes…but I am 100% dedicated to Lolafalk; this is unquestionably what I was meant to do.
handbags, clutches, and totes by lolafalk :: $29-78