“Before you leave the house,” said Coco Chanel, “look in the mirror and take one thing off.” But with these local accessory designers in the mix — forget about it.
Michelle Quick | @mbqhandmade, michellequick.com
The material is often my starting point for a design. I favor tactile or graphic materials — when I work in color, it tends to be bold, and when I work in all black, there’s usually a mix of textures or a contrast detail. I like the finished product to speak for itself and stand out. Beyond the local and sustainable aspects, one of the reasons I gravitate toward alligator leather is the unique pattern variation of the skin, which requires another aspect of planning for each product. When I work with clients, I draw from my conversations with them to add thoughtful details you wouldn’t find in a ready-to-wear item. Combining their needs and preferences with my minimal design aesthetic is like figuring out a puzzle. On a more theoretical level, I’m always interested in the history of traditional crafts and how that contrasts with modern industrial fashion manufacturing. It all comes down to how we value our belongings.
Jennifer Huskey, JKH Ceramics | @jenniferkellyhuskey, jkhceramics.com
Working with clay is a lengthy and sometimes frustrating process — throwing, slab building, drying, glazing, testing, multiple firings … it can take weeks to end up with a finished product. Designing jewelry is the antidote — it gives me an opportunity to work quickly through ideas and clay combinations. I look to the natural environment for inspiration, which I hope comes through in my work in tone, texture, color and movement. I’m heavily influenced by a wabi-sabi aesthetic in art and life. When someone wears my pieces, I hope they feel connected — to the landscape, to nature and to the unique qualities of something handmade.
Ana Barragan, Ana Eyewear | @anartisana, anabarragan.com
I’m motivated by the challenge of creating unique pieces that didn’t exist before. Anything can inspire me, and everything gives me ideas. I look back on fashion throughout the decades, and ground my designs in the present context. The wood I use is a durable product, it doesn’t pollute the earth and it’s a tie back to nature. It’s all sourced from sustainable operations in Colombia, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and Fedemaderas, Colombia’s tree federation — and since it’s removed from discarded bark, I feel like it’s given voluntarily by the trees.
Lindsay Thomas, Garland Bags | @garlandbags, garlandbags.com
In 2014, I launched a high-end pillow business, and now I’ve transitioned into making clutch purses. I have always found home décor fabrics to have such a broad range of interesting subjects and colors — they deserve to be paraded around town, not just stuck at home in the living room. First, I played around with my all-time favorite, Schumacher’s Citrus Garden print, and made a clutch for myself. That garnered a wonderful reaction from friends, so I made a few more, posted them on Instagram, and the response was beyond what I ever expected. These fabrics are truly works of art, and the decorative hardware (typically vintage and sourced from estate sales) has become an equally important part of the equation. When I find an outstanding piece, I’ll build a clutch around it. Making these clutches is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.
Elise Higgins, Kin | @madebykin, madebykin.co
Developing the aesthetic of our brand was a journey. My personal style has always been refined, while my husband and partner Matt has a more charismatic approach. I focused on staple silhouettes that were important to me as a young working woman, and as the collection developed, we noticed a rounded motif that began to appear in almost every piece. We started with classic neutrals (black, beige, navy) and then embraced new colors that felt expressive and experimental. I also used a technique of lacing to add interest and reflect the handmade nature of my pieces. I grew up in a small town where fashion wasn’t important. The culture of fashion never really spoke to me, but with accessory design I’ve been able to find more freedom. I like to think that craftsmanship inspires my work more than the runway ever could.