We spend five glorious minutes with Marlen Wolff, Creative & Marketing Manager for Stitch & Hide, as she shares her passion for the business of leather bags, wallets and belts. Find out more about the idyllic lifestyle of a creative entrepreneur as she moves her design ideas from planning to perfection. Marlen chats about her inspiration, design process and the excitement of launching Stitch & Hide in the US.
Tell us how you started your business and why?
Stitch & Hide had its genesis in the vision of two partners, one based in Byron Bay and the other in Los Angeles. They both saw the need for beautiful soft vegetable tanned leather products. Initially Stitch & Hide launched as a men’s belts and wallets line but within six months the demand from customers and sales agents drove the creation women’s line. Today Stitch & Hide carries a large selection of earthy classic designs, combining the cultures and lifestyles of both Australia and Southern California.
What is your favourite product and why?
My favourite items (this week haha!) are our Cassie clutch and Hendrix wallet (unisex). I use both every day. Cassie is the perfect all-rounder – wear it casual or dress up for an evening out. The hardest decision is which colour! The Hendrix wallet is a simple, yet functional slim-line wallet. It fits all the essentials and the zip closure secures my coins. It’s small enough to fit into my Cassie clutch and Jules handbag.
What’s special/unique about your product?
The designs are everlasting and enduring. Every bag, clutch, wallet and belt is hand-made by our skilled craftsmen, using full grain leathers of the superior grade, tanned with our old-world “vegetable tanning” technique, which is environmentally-friendly. Our process retains the grain and natural markings of the hide, allowing the leather to show its unique characteristics, and allowing the owner an exceptional, distinctly stylish product.
The designs are everlasting and enduring. Every bag, clutch, wallet and belt is hand-made by our skilled craftsmen, using full grain leathers of the superior grade, tanned with our old-world “vegetable tanning” technique, which is environmentally-friendly.
How do you go about the design process for your bags?
I’ve always had a passion and interest in all things fashion and my constant research to keep on top of trends keeps me on my toes. We at Stitch & Hide work very much as a team so any design or concept becomes a group discussion. After we brainstorm ideas and come up with a ‘story’ for our new line, I’ll create mood boards and colour schemes. I then hand-draw the designs on paper and have the first sample go into production with our factory in India. Our lovely and patient production manager in India makes sure our sample is made up to our specs and high quality and sends it on to us for review. After little improvements on the sample, we will go into full production. Our product is then shipped out to all our stockists worldwide!
Tell us how you find inspiration for your fashion shoots…
I’ve always loved to travel and this has inspired me in life and also my career - witnessing different cultures, seeing beautiful scenery and nature, meeting interesting and inspiring people. A bonus of course is that we are based in beautiful Byron Bay so this makes it easy to find stunning locations for our photo shoots. When planning a shoot, I like to come up with a ‘story’ for the collection and then the rest follows….securing the perfect location, the model, the clothing and our new products injected into each frame.
What do you love about your job?
Absolutely everything! I love being creative, researching new trends and putting the designs onto paper and then seeing the product come to life! The role is incredibly diverse and really busy at times. I juggle many balls at the one time but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The best reward is seeing the products we design and produce sitting on the shelves of stores worldwide and seeing happy faces on our customers – we wouldn’t be here without them! I continue to learn every single day with no day the same. It’s only onwards and upwards for Stitch & Hide!
What’s new for your business over the next twelve months?
We will continue to expand the range with new products, styles and colours so watch this space! Plus, we have officially launched into the USA so the focus is expanding our presence and retail footprint in this huge market. That is very exciting!
Where’s your favourite place to go in Byron Bay?
A perfect day in Byron Bay for me would be to start with a shop at the farmers market, followed by a delicious shake from Naked Treaties. Then hit the road for a little adventure to Whites Beach, Broken Head for a bush walk and swim. Nothing beats ending the day with sushi for dinner and a cheeky espresso martini in hand at the Balcony. Bliss!
What’s your favourite time of year in the shire?
That has to be Autumn – perfect weather, town isn’t too busy, crystal clear blue ocean and cooler nights. I am truly blessed to be able to live in such a beautiful place in the world.