Stunning Bags from Village England
August 20, 2014
We love discovering new like-minded brands who value the beauty and quality of their product above all else. Village England is one such company, crafting beautiful women's handbags out of the finest quality leather. We caught up with co-founder Julia Dobson, who has turned the dream of setting up an accessories brand into a reality.
Where did the idea for setting up Village England come from?
Eddie (Knevett, designer and co founder) and I used to joke about setting up our own brand. We met when he was the Head of Accessories at one of the UK's biggest department stores and I was the Country Manager at a luxury fashion brand. Some years later, we felt that that no-one was doing gorgeous, relaxed bags in a very English way at a real world price (of course there are plenty of shiny, hard "New York" style bags), so it seemed the time was right to put our money where our mouthes were (so to speak).
Thus far we've been really overwhelmed with the reaction from customers. People have been so kind about our styling, and we're really pleased that they really appreciate our quality of leathers and the manufacturing. Our first American customer wrote a letter after she received her bag which almost made me cry. (read it here) http://villageengland.com/blog/what-you-love-lorraine-and-the-cranleigh/ It's those moments when you think "maybe, just maybe we were right!"
What inspires your bag designs?
Eddie designs our collections, and I know he looks to the English countryside to describe the English aesthetic in our product. Really relaxed and tactile leathers, details inspired by the countryside (bridle or stirrup details, next season we have straps inspired by gun-straps). You can really feel the Englishness in the colour pallet he uses, the summer collection just gone had colours combinations normally only seen in a manor house garden, this season you can see the autumnal lake district colours - slate blacks, rusty reds, khakis.
What makes a Village England bag unique?
We work really hard to make sure the bag will work for real life. Of course we want to make bags that women fall in love with, but for me the important stuff happens after someone starts to use the bag. We want handles that will stay put on your shoulder, pockets at the right height so you can get your hand into it without taking the bag off your shoulder, enough access for things you need all the time, but with appropriate security - that sort of thing. And then we want to delight, so linings that feel gorgeous when you put you hand into the bag, a big, padded pocket for an iPad or Kindle, tiny etchings on our studs, just because it's the right thing to do. Finally we choose leathers that are going to look better with age. We want Village England to be the bag in your wardrobe you always go back to. Finally, it must be really good, old fashioned value for money.
What is the best advice you were ever given?
In business: "Make sure you keep the main thing the main thing".
In life: "Have you ever realised how "What the hell" is always the right answer?"
What do you enjoy doing when you're not designing?
I have two small boys (2 and 4), so I'm mostly found in parks, puddles or creating some exceptional train tracks (if I do say so myself).
What are your favourite Seven Boot Lane boots?
Are you kidding? It's the Annie. And then some days its DEFINITELY the Caitlyn. And then there are the Carrie days. The only problem with Seven Boot Lane is having to choose.