1. How did you start making bags?
After my studies at the Amsterdam Academy of Fine Arts (textile design department), I followed some technical sewing and pattern courses. Besides teaching courses in technical fields of fashion (Technical subjects in fashion programs), I worked as a freelance costume designer. Nine years ago, during an open studio tour where I participated, I regretted that I could only show commissioned work. I felt the need to show my ‘own’ product. After a short course in leather techniques, I made two bags to which I received many responses. I already had a lot of material (because of my theatre jobs and passion for collecting) and a leather sewing machine. With great enthusiasm I then followed a training in traditional bag making.
2. What makes you get inspired? What gives you inspiration?
Details of old bags work very inspiring to me. Sometimes it is the techniques, such as how a soufflé is made/put together, Sometimes it is literally the haberdashery that I reuse. But it is especially the tulip that inspires me to design new shapes of bags.
3. Why tulip bags? What is it with you and tulips?
I am a gardener’s daughter. My father had a tulip farm until I was about 11 years old. In my childhood holiday jobs existed of tulip de-heading, harvesting bulbs and peeling bulbs. I have always enjoyed doing that. We were with a group of girls at the assembly line and had a lot of fun. A period in my life, I was ashamed of my roots. Until a teacher said to me: if you feel ashamed of your roots, you are (not?) doing full justice to the love for your father and for yourself. To me, that was the moment to look at my background in a different way and see the positive sides of it. As a tribute to my father I designed the tulip bag.
4. How does the creative process work? How to do it?
I find the creative process very special. It starts with an idea or a theme of an exhibition or an assignment of a customer. I sometimes make a sketch, but to me making a test model is very important. I always make a prototype of fabric and I continue for as long as it takes until I have found the perfect shape for me. Sometimes I play with the pattern pieces of bags that I already have and thus I create a new shape.
5. Where does the naam BAGLADY come from?
BAGLADY is the label under which I make bags. This name was created long before I made bags, when my companion and I were often on the road with bags full of costumes for theatre groups. We associated ourselves with bagladies. But also because of my passion for collecting and fascination for recycling my slogan is often: “I live of the street”.
6. You make the bags by yourself, in an exclusive edition. Is that a conscious choice?
I get great pleasure out of the making itself and I do not easily have something produced elsewhere. One reason why I am not in favour of that is because I believe that sustainable enterprise also involves local production. There are some models that I make repeatedly. Especially the tulip bags. The other bags are often one of a kind or made in small editions. I am currently working on a new line. The SHOPPER-BAGLADY, all unique shoppers, made of leather or surfing canvas. For every woman/man a wayward shopper!
7. What materials do you use and why?
I have been recycling and restyling ever since I was on the Academie. There is so much material that deserves a second life. My first tulip bags are made of reused leather. I cut it out of for example a discarded couch. I sometimes got a bag of srap from a furniture factory. But the bright colours are usually not found in a couch. Certainly not in the quantity that I need right now. So I am searching mainly for stock lots, peaces of leather that furniture manufacturers can no longer use. That is new leather. But reuse still offers great opportunities. For example I also make beautiful shoppers out of ‘old’ surfing sails. The great thing about surfing canvas is that it hardly wears and the colours remain bright.
8. Do you often use handbags yourself?
I always have a bag with me, a BAGLADY bag ofcourse. That way I advertise/promote my own bags and can also find out if or how I can improve the bag.
9. What more would you like to achieve?
I would like to have an established name as a (hand)bag designer. Also it would be great if my tulip bag becomes an understanding. A studio/shop in downtown Amsterdam is also a big wish.