I was fortunate recently to be visited by a photographer, Julia Dunin, who was tasked by My Creative Edge to photograph the creative process that results in my bags. Julia made it an enjoyable process, and I’m delighted with the photographs.
I thought I’d share the results in this blog, but first I’ve also added in a short video of my über patient husband hanging out the umpteenth load of washed recycled jeans on our washing line, which is one of the first things that has to happen before the jeans can be cut to shape and size and the zips removed.
Once the jeans are dry, they are “filletted”. they are cut into two halves, right and left legs, and the zips are removed.
The zips are removed from the denim and readied for use in purses. the rest of the denim is sorted by thickness – certain bags need certain thicknesses of denim, some are not so fussy.
The fabrics then need to be selected from my store – this is some of my fabric waiting to be cut. The fabrics are cut to size, and then I can move on to the component parts, like the zips for the zip top small and large cross body bags.
And then I start to sew…
And then for fun, Julia suggested a short photoshoot with a bag…
I just love this photo – it perfectly describes how practical and useful, and still beautiful, my bags are. They’re as happy when you’re in wellies walking the dog as they are attending a meeting with the Bank Manager or an evening out with the girls.
I have to start with this picture of zips from jeans drying in the sunshine yesterday. This is the start of the purse making process. The zips are cut from the jeans, washed and then stripped out of their denim. The zips are divided by size, then I cut the fabrics to match up with each size of zip. Just recently, I have been making lots of funky chicken purses for customers in the United States, so this batch of zips are going to be converted into these cute little purses very soon!
Last week was a whirlwind of sewing, packing and training courses. It was Enterprise Week in County Clare, and our Local Enterprise Office was running lots of events to help small businesses like mine.
One of the events was devoted to the dark art of search engine optimisation. Even the phrase, and its more commonly used three letter abbreviation, SEO, gave me the chills.
The lady who was illuminating the topic gave us all pointers about how to get our websites to hit the dizzy heights of Page One on a Google Search Results page.
Keywords are the thing. We were tasked with talking to our neighbours about what keywords were most likely to be used by someone searching for our products. But as is ever the way at these events, if you put 10 small business owners at one table, they’ll start talking about everything except the task at hand.
So keywords are consigned to my homework. And this is where I started to realise how I need to work in at least two languages….American English and Irish/English English.
Why divided by a common language? Take this gorgeous large messenger bag. Is it a messenger bag, a satchel, a cross body bag, a laptop bag, a travel bag, a purse, a pocketbook or a work bag? Is it a shoulder bag? Could someone class it as a tote bag? If it goes to the beach, could it be a beach bag?
I need to lie down now! You can see my dilemma. As a “help”, I thought I would Google images of pocketbooks, so I could see what a pocketbook looks like. But Google helpfully presented me with the luridly graphic front cover of that number one bestseller “The Pocket Book of Oral Diseases”. Not for the fainthearted.
So I’ve drawn up a list of keywords, and like Santa, I’ll check it twice, but I may also ask visitors to my stall at Chapel Lane Market and other events what they would call my bags. Especially if they are from the United States or Canada. You can’t beat face to face conversation yet!
Which brings me to my favourite topic to blog about, markets! Chapel Lane Market in Ennis continues to be my main weekly shop window every Saturday. We’re open from 10-5 every Saturday, and the hall is full to the rafters with gorgeousness.
I’m back in the UK for the two Handmade Fairs. The first is at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire May 12-14, the second is at Hampton Court Palace in London from 15-17 September. These are fantastic events so I’m really looking forward to heading over for these. I’ll have some free entry passes, so watch this space, I’ll be publicising those as soon as I have them.
One final thought – have you seen the social media campaign by Margaret Molloy in New York’s City, who for the month of March is wearing Irish designed clothes and accessories? Under the hashtag #WearingIrish, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, she and now a growing band of others, are promoting all that is fantastic about Irish designed and Irish made fashion and accessories. And of course I’m more that happy to promote this campaign, by encouraging more and more people to start #WearingIrish by carrying one of my bags, designed and handmade in County Clare! And because it is nearly St Patrick’s Day, what better than a green Sallyann Bag, one of my own Meadow fabric bags…?
All that remains for me to say is sona Lá Fhéile Pádraig for Friday. Happy St Patrick’s Day!