I started making headbands and simple cowl neck scarves that I sold word of mouth to friends while I was still living in Calgary back in 2012. In early 2013 I asked a friend who is a graphic designer to come up with a logo for me and another friend of mine then offered to put my knits in her boutique on consignment. Interest in my headbands and cowls gradually grew and I was growing sales to Winnipeg and Vancouver all word of mouth.
I went traveling around Europe for two months after While I was there I discover a short course in handbag design at the University Arts of London (London College of Fashion). I decided to extend my trip and take the course and fell in love with the idea of working in design and with leather.
I was heavily influenced while I was traveling around London, Berlin and Scandinavia. Maybe more so by Sweden’s simple contemporary style . I don’t really come by sewing and pattern making naturally but I do enjoy the design process and developing product and spotting trends.
Some hats I can wear better than others but I am learning a lot about what goes in to the process of design, branding, marketing and selling a small line.
Walk us through the design process. What inspires you?
Scarves can take five hours to make start to finish. Knitting being the most time consuming. Other leather pieces really very depending on the amount of stitching involved because all my bags and wallets are hand stitched. It really depends on the piece. New designs I can can design a pattern and 3-d proto for a piece in a couple days. Existing pieces I organize my production in stages, so I do cutting of multiple leather patterns one day and assembling or pressing hardware another day.
I’m really into large statement pieces of hardware. I love the way they look and how showy pieces can be. I also don’t want to complicate a piece. People seem to notice the hardware and are attracted to the unusually shapes and weight of it. I live contemporary and clean finished designs usually. I love Nordic and Scandinavian style. I also have a traditional maybe even equestrian look to my aesthetic and I think that is the UK influence, along with growing up riding horses, I just gravitate to that bridle and leather look.
Tell us about vegetable tanned leather and environmentally water based stains.
I started out working only with vegetable tanned leather, because I loved the natural colour of it and it could be molded into harder cases and shapes. The lovely thing about vegetable tanned leather is it also ages nicely over time and darkens if left unstained. I will stain some of my belts and smaller accessories in a variety of colours using environmentally friendly stains. These stains just penetrate the surface of the leather and can wear really nicely over time, giving them a broken in, vintage look. The larger items, like clutches and totes I usually use pretreated hides.
What elements from Scandinavian design are transferred into your designs?
The clean and simplicity of design is what I notice about the Nordic countries. When you look around the prairies, it’s very similar to Sweden. The geography and the people in Sweden reminded me a lot of home. And maybe that is why my customer is attracted to House of Ace. There is a simplicity that I gravitate towards but I also want to make sure my pieces convey high end quality and value. Something that you can maintain when it’s handmade.
Where can we find House of Ace, and what can we expect in the future?
I currently have a limited offering at HutK in the Exchange district and and men’s belts can be found at Normandy Shoppe. I’m also working on developing an online store through my site so that purchases can be made directly from my site. I would like to develop more purses and bags in the future. I’m looking forward to announcing next month, new co-branding of House of Ace with a large US based company, which is launching a new online store. Details will be announced on my site soon.