Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dress, Nancy Dee; Glasses, Fan Optic; Tote, Danielle Foster; Black Ring, Charlotte Valkeniers; Ring, Bloody Mary Metal; Shoes, Dr Martens

Today is an errand day. 

Time to give the eyes a rest and actually remember to wear my prescription. Perhaps these fancy specs from Fan Optics are the answer. A simple dress paired with equally simple jewellery for a classic yet understated look. Add in some comfy loved goodyear welted DM's in this season most loved faux snake print and a tote big enough to fit life in and I'm ready to tackle my list.

Andrea xx

The Secrets Out...

Monday, 2 March 2015

 A mini 'What's In My Bag'/ on my head/ face: Phone Case, Fifi Lapin @ Iconemesis; Hat, Topshop; Midi Bag, Baia, Lipstick in Saint, Topshop; Lipbalm, Burts Bees; Purse, Baia. 

My favourite thing about buying stuff made in Britain is that it looks well made. It's not a homogenous item of clothing/acc/jewellery reproduced half heartedly by all the high street stores. No matter how worn I have made it. Or how old I now think it is. I still will be complimented and asked where, what, who.

It could be down to my cracking personal style. Or it could be because there is a noticeable difference between crafted products and mass-produced products. Something not immediately obvious, you can't quite put your finger on it, but it's just better than the ones you've seen elsewhere. 

Today, I am lucky enough to share with you the story of Baia from the owner, designer and maker herself, Susy Brown. One of the most striking things about reading back the answers is how passionate, how much she cares and how much that reflects in what she produces. It's refreshing.

I own a Baia bag, a Baia purse and made the boy buy a Baia card holder. You could say I'm a little Baia obsessed. I see amazing things in the future for this fledgling brand. And although delighted Susy agreed to answer my Spotlight Q's for this post; the secret is well and truly out. At least I can say I was an early adopter, right?

Even though, my Baia looks very well loved, it's become so much a part of me. Waiting at bus stops, with my oversized boyf MIB coat, my skinny ripped jeans poking out and my favourite pointy suede booties, it's unmistakably me. Despite it's loved appearance; it's shape, it's simplicity,  it's quality, still garners attention. And I love that every time I'm asked I can proudly say "Baia" to an unknowing expression. They'll soon become as obsessed as I am. 

I studied Fashion at Manchester Met, and graduated knowing that I loved design, but with no real idea of what I would do. There wasn't that much relevant work available in the North of England, but I managed to get a 6 month placement with a company based in the Northern Quarter in Manchester (A Few Fine Things, sadly no longer open), who made bespoke bags. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, but I ended up staying for a year and really learned the trade. Eventually I decided I wanted to do things my own way, and that was that really. Baia was born!

I would hope so! I learnt a lot from working at A Few Fine Things. They really did start from scratch, and it wasn't unusual for a look of fear to descend when a customer realised how many decisions they had to make.
I wanted to harness the idea of choice, and an individual end result, but also not to alienate the customer who was happy with a black bag and an exciting lining colour. I think people are attracted to the idea of an item made just for them, and it continues to surprise me, even at the end of a season, the combinations that people choose. It's really not unusual to make a one off piece. 

There's just no way that we could make to order outside of Britain. And Baia was born from me wanting to create, and use the skills I had to make beautiful things. It's literally a hands on process every single day.
I'm very proud of being a British brand, and everything that means. Our leather comes from British suppliers, metal plates are made in Sheffield, cotton lining from Manchester, and metal work from Cheshire. I made these choices, not because they're British, but because they are the best.
I think there is a real integrity to supporting British manufacturing, big and small. 

That's a really tough question. For me designing a bag is dual processes - it has to look great, but it also has to be successfully functional. It's as much a construction plan as it is a aesthetic decision. Sometimes it'll be a colour or shape that catches my eye, others a silhouette or texture. Or simply theres a gap in the collection that needs filling. At the moment I'm working on AW15, and my Pinterest board is full of natural textures, art deco architecture, a lot of monochrome and abstract paintings. It sounds really serious, but it isn't. I'm quite pragmatic when it comes to the design process.
I tend to get the design equivalent of a song stuck in my head - some of my best designs have been ideas that won't go away, have niggled at my brain and evolved over a period of time

I've always got plans! Baia was 3 in January, and I'm amazed by how much has happened in that time. Having said that, there's so much I want for Baia. There's a lot in the pipeline for the next year. I'm hoping we can find some wonderful stockists, and plenty more. But if I told you that I'd have to kill you!

Dalmation Drawstring, What Olivia Did Midi, Rucksack, Bucket, Leopard Mini, all Baia.

The summer of 2014 was huge for Baia. We were featured in the Times Magazine, which was a bit of a pinch me moment. The response was incredible, and we moved in to our studio a couple of months later. Baia was started in the spare room, so to have a real light airy workspace felt like a real mile stone. 

Another tough question! I don't think there is a specific profile customer for Baia. The made to order nature of the what we do, means that we have customers that span a huge age range. We have made bags that are used for school books, bags for business women, and my grandma has several Baia items (though I think she's a little biased!). I think a handbag in general is an accessible item. I like that inclusive approach. 

I have a real soft spot for the Mini, and the Drawstring. They're the ones that I use on a regular basis. Ironically my family and friends have more of the current styles and colours than I do, typically I'm the last in line!
I loved the pony skin from AW14, because it had such a luxurious feel, and similarly the croc. And I'm really looking forward to our first printed leather in our new SS15 collection, which was illustrated by the wonderful Ella Masters. I'm really proud of it. 

I'm looking forward to not needing to wear a thermal vest, two pairs of socks, and several jumpers! I adore a good jumper, but I've had enough of the cold this year. Baia HQ is in an old mill and it's been pretty bloody nippy the last few months. I'm dreaming of blue skies and summer dresses. Though having said that I will miss a polo neck! 

I love a good inspirational quote! I post at least one a week on instagram. I particularly like 'Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.' - Thomas Eddison. Working your guts out is pretty much the key to everything!

Thanks Susy!

Keep your eyes peeled for Baia's next collection for SS15 launching very soon.
(that printed leather tho...)

Follow Baia on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for tempting sneak peeks and bag inspo galore!

Until then, snap up the last of the current AW14 line here: http://baiabags.co.uk/

Andrea xx
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