Thursday, February 23, 2012

Prepping for OOAK

My first Spring season show will happen across the country from where I live - in Toronto. The One Of A Kind Spring Show and Sale takes place between March 28 to April 1, and we will be there with the new Collection, and some of the Spring and Summer ad-ons.

Working full time at the day-job created some additional pressures to make enough product, meet deadlines, pre-plan and pre-think everything needed to make this show worthy. Can't wait till I re-gain my half-time in just over a week...

But, beside a few 'fits' of occasional anxiety, and cancelled social get-togethers with friends, I have been coping just fine, even managed to create some completely new items to bring to the show. I have also dreamed up my booth display, and already started the decorating work.

Because I will travel by air, my display must be as compact as possible, collapsible and light. I will show it to you all, as soon as it is ready and set up some six weeks away. Same for my bags, that will take their first trans-Canadian group trip...

The pictures below are of what I have been busying myself with...

Re-purposing men's (and ladies' ) jackets... into OOAK Sarah bags.

Floral embossed suede/ leather jacket: that symmetrical cut is completely accidental!

Now, with ruffles

Beautiful pattern in the back

Completely new design -  zipper clutch bags built from re-purposed jackets (pictures coming)...

Side A and B

Same beautiful pattern

My decorations: the Booth will have fresh colours of white and blue, just a little 'sailor' themed

My wind streamers... I may not have any wind at the Show, but they will pop against the white Show curtain

Table cover - vintage crocheting over white silk mix fabric

We are very excited to be visiting our Eastern friends - many more details about the Show are to come up in this Blog in the next few weeks.

Posted by Jolanta

Saturday, February 11, 2012

'The Starter' - the return of Fringe...

Fringe played a major role in the very birth of this line nearly three years ago. Some of you know, I am a moderately picky shopper, and would seek out only truly unique items, that satisfy my acceptance criteria. One of those items, was a well made, true to the original suede Fringe bag I could wear for years to come. Fast fashion chains, or department stores in greater Vancouver did not have what I was looking for, so I decided to get some suede and build one myself.

My first bag ever...
Some of you have seen this image... this is the Fringe bag I made back in Spring of 2009...

... The bag got some unexpected attention, some ladies wanted me to build one for them, or just suggested to buy the one I was wearing, so I listened.. and became a designer...

Kerry, Mocha, - I have to post it on the Web-shop!
My simple prototype evolved into THIS bag - Kerry, from S/S 2010 Intro collection, which got us our first retailers, just mere two months into the "business".  Kerry remains one of my most requested designs so far...

In the next six months or so, Fringe exploded in the mainstream retail, with everyone featuring a tasseled design - from Gucci to H&M. Even though, most of the bags were not all that similar to mine, I moved on from shredding suede for Pre-Fall 2010 Coming Of Age Collection.

But, I have not stopped loving Fringe, and that's why nearly three years later, I decided to release a different Fringe design... One of my lovely retailers have said, that i might as well finish a trend I started...

INTRODUCING -  The Starter - an all new Fringe shoulder slouch, coming in Spring of 2012...

Speckled White Elkskin

Featuring a shorter, modernized Fringe, expanded darted base, a zipper closure and front pocket and tie on adjustable straps, this bag is a cross-body, that doubles as  a clutch... For the first time, I have worked with wild leathers - Deerskin and Elkskin, embracing their matte, velvety finish and incredible pliability...

The Starter comes in several colours: BLONDE


I am very excited about my new Fringe design. There are very few of them - and they will make their debut in my first show of the season in Ontario...

Posted by Jolanta

Thursday Day Trip

My job share of the past year ended last week. Now, I have to scramble through the month of February of full time day-job, till things ease up again in March, as I begin my "personal leave" and go back to half time.

Wanting to make the best out of my last half week, before a month of running a job and a business simultaneously, I treated myself to a Vancouver Island trip. I set out to Victoria, for a very overdue visit to the Rad Juli  flagship store and workshop.

Rad Juli is a fellow leatherworker and a friend, who, to the envy of all of us in the handbag etc. biz, has recently  moved into a new gorgeous studio with a storefront space, and even a display window.

She specializes in unique, one of a kind accessories for ladies and gents, built from all kinds of rescued and found materials. She has built following with both, Mainland and the Island arts community, as well as loyalists outside of Canada. More about Rad Juli's creative process and her work-space - on her blog,

image source: Radjulionline
After a bus ride through Victoria, which I really enjoyed, I was treated to a sunny walk down Bay street, not too far from Victoria Harbour. The neighbourhood there is historic and industrial, streets are narrow and windy; and after just a minute on Bay street, I felt like I was back in North England. I would not mind to be taking that walk daily - to work.. Or, at least, on sunny mornings..

Location: 2626 Bridge street, Victoria, BC

And, we're finally here! There's the bright sandwich board on the sidewalk - I must be in the right place. Apparently, I am not the only one visiting...

Tubs of hardware - I did not come in empty handed. Part of the charm of being an accessories person, is to be able to share with your friends all the good resources, suppliers and steals you come across. I salvaged this hardware from a day-coworker of mine, and some of it seemed right for Juli.

The storefront fills up with visitors and clients. So helpful to have that beautiful display window, overlooking the walk-by traffic. Sigh... The Rad Juli flagship store carries her own designs (handbags, belts, gloves corsets and other accessories), as well as vintage clothing, accessories and finds.

She's in action! Juli wrestling a bison side into a gents' traveling cross-body. I always find it amazing to watch other people work. Out of the blue, they do something really smart and I sit there, wondering, why hadn't I come up with that ages ago!

That was a very inspiring trip, and a healthy change of environment for me. It had my head spinning with wishes, ideas and plans for my business.

Radjuli Custom Designs
Studio/ Store
Tue - Sat 11 - 5
106 - 2626 Bridge street, Victoria, BC
V6T 4S9

Posted by Jolanta

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Alex Petit

I have been working on a unisex bag for quite a while, with little to no success, and Alex Petit was one of those attempts. But, even though the leather I use for this design is far sturdier and rustic, the size of this bag would take it right back to the ladies' side of things. And, so would the knots.

I initially worked on two sizes of Alex, but the larger version of it resembled a laptop bag, especially, since I first intended to use a magnet for closure, instead of the button. Laptop bags are nearly the only bags men carry these days (besides gym duffles), but, to me, unfortunately, a laptop bag encompasses everything, that is boring about mainstream menswear. I had no interest in making more laptop bags.

After the small Alex prototype was finished, I decided to shelf the design, and continue drafting ideas for a unisex bag (I eventually landed on this one, but that design will get it's own post). I tied many knots and swapped the magnet closure idea for a vintage button...

Alex Petit was a small - definitely, - ladies bag, and, even though it had a very different look from all my other work, I did not see it as a part of my third collection.

Antique Brown

As the Collection progressed, I created the other styles, and assigned colours to each of them. Alex Petit remained just a prototype, a one-off purse, meant to go straight onto the sample rack... Until I first showed it this past summer.

Oakwood, Prototype

The prototype found it's home at the Harmony Arts Festival in July; I also took a few orders for it and shortly made the first Alex Petit batch, still somewhat surprised about the response to a bag, not much bigger, than a wallet. This style also flew of the rack at the shows to follow, and I guess by then, I was convinced to keep it.


Alex Petit has now several leathers assigned to it, and is the last design of FW 2011 Cebrellex to be finally listed at the Web-shop. It has been going just too fast!


Raw edge finish, compact and adjustable, with a small zipper divider inside. Simple. Not a laptop bag...

Antique Brown

Black suede

Posted by Jolanta