Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mae Linnaea handbags

Heya Nesters!  I don't know about you gals,  but I am a big fan of HUGE bags.  I am like the modern day Mary Poppins.  I have a spoonful of sugar in my purse right now next to the Advil.  {Not really but I do have sugar packets in my desk... does that count?} But after enough friends picking up my bag and groaning about how heavy it was, I thought maybe I should give my shoulder a rest and just get a little wristlet to just grab and go.  While these thoughts stewed in my brain, I perused my good friend Mae's Etsy site: Mae Linnaea.   I saw one of her new designs and fell. in. love...

RESERVED FOR GINA: Embossed Leather & Lace Clutch With Vintage Button Accent

I know. Gorgeous right? I pounced on it and bought it form her. It has been a lifesaver! I use it every single day and I've also worn it to a wedding!  I get compliments on it constantly because its so unique and beautiful.   

But enough about me and my bag... I thought you guys might want to hear from the artist herself.  Meet my friend Mae

I've known Mae for almost a decade now. {Ouch that hurt}  She is a fellow Syracuse Fashion program Almni.  I thought it would be kind of fun to ask her a few questions about how she got where she was. 

TN: When did you start sewing? Do you remember the first thing you made?
Mae: I started sewing when I was pretty little - maybe 3rd or 4th grade?  I remember my grandmother bought my mom a Bernina sewing machine as a gift (the same one that was eventually given to me, which I used all through college and even some now) and I was so excited about it.  My mom used to make quilts and clothing and I loved watching her do that.  She grew up in an age where you always made your own clothes.  The first thing I ever made was actually a little bag that I was going to give my Mom as a gift.  I found these great little pieces of fabric all cut out already and appliqued them onto another fabric (much like I do now) and sewed a little pouch.  It wasn't until I gave it to my mom that I found out the pieces I had used were special parts ready for a quilt she was making!  I'm pretty sure she forgave me though :) When I was in middle school my mom helped me buy my first pattern and some fabric and taught me how to read a pattern and make a dress.  I sewed the whole thing myself and wore it everywhere.  It was a cute little navy sundress with white daisies on it.  From there, I was hooked.

TN: When did you start making your own bags
Mae: I worked in a French fabric store after starting college and was able to get my hands on all these beautiful fabric remnants for pretty cheap.  I could never find any bag that fit my personality, everything was always just plain black or brown and looked way too formal to me... or if it was something I loved, I could never afford it!  I started making bags in college and the summer after I graduated I actually had a bunch of them in a store in my hometown.  I started working with leather only a few years ago, but I always try to keep the element of the interior fabrics too.  It's a great weight for handbags and there are always fun patterns and colors to choose from.  I officially opened my Etsy shop last August, although I had many other private/custom sales before that. 

Black Lace & Grey Leather Clutch with Plum Accents and Neutral Patterned Lining

TN: What inspires you?
Mae: Here is where I’m supposed to say something profound right?  Like I find my inspiration from these famous designers, or this highly published artist, etc.  But in all honesty, I was never one of those people who perused the magazines to draw inspiration from images, or poured over fashion history to try and re-live fancy moments.  This could also end up being my downfall, as market research and trend spotting are major components in a successful business of any kind.  Don’t get me wrong, Fashion History was one of my favorite subjects I ever studied, and I love seeing what the designers are going to come up with next; I just didn’t ever use this as my main starting point for design.  Maybe this is because I originally began as more of an artist.  I grew up loving to draw, and got into oil painting at a very early age.  I probably picked this up from my late Grandfather and Dad who are both very talented painters and artists.  I think most of my inspiration actually comes from the materials themselves.  I am kind of a fabric hoarder and I usually buy all this stuff I love and then let that kind of dictate where the design goes.

TN: If you could be a handbag, what kind would you be and why?
Mae: I think I would be one with a super exciting lining.  I love finding a handbag that is kind of fun on the outside, but then when you open it the lining is just amazing.  Like beautifully bright colors and patterns.  It's almost like a little secret waiting to be discovered or something.  I know that sounds super cheesy, but finding something w/ a really fun lining is one of my absolute favorite things.

Nautical Summer Leather & Plaid Hobo

TN: Who is your favorite designer or what is your favorite design era?
Mae: It's hard to say just one designer... I do absolutely love Alexander McQueen though.  I was so sad when he passed away last year.  A lot of the Japanese designers I find fascinating too - Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo make such amazing things.  I love fashion history in general really, it was definitely one of my favorite subjects ever studied in college.

TN: What are your can't-leave-home-without-it items in your purse right now?
Mae: I feel like I should have a bunch of glamorous make-up items in here or something, but I don't wear make-up! haha  I would say my Burts Bees chapstick, my iPod, I always have a bunch of my business cards with me, and a mini flashlight - you never know when you'll need one! :)

TN: What is your design process?  Do you choose how you want it to look before you start sewing? Or since each are different, do they kind of come together organically?
Mae: Kind of like I said before, I am a fabric hoarder of sorts.  I can't help myself when I find amazing stuff that I can make things out of.  I would say I kind of design as I am playing around with the materials and cutting things out.  This means every piece I make is unique in itself.  I never make two things alike.  I would definitely say my designs come together organically.  I finally started making some patterns a couple months ago, but I never stick to the original, I always tweak it and let it grow into it's own piece.  I do have to say everything is a derivative of my original style hobo bag though - the kind of U-shaped, 
slouchy look.

TN: Do you take custom orders?
Mae: Definitely!  I've done a lot of custom orders for people.  I do like to stick with-in my design philosophy so that when it is a finished product, there is a little bit of me still in it - but I am happy to work with the customer to make what they are looking for.

My Spring 2012 clutch collection… now available on Etsy! www.etsy.com/shop/maelinnaea

Mae makes all her bags herself with lots of TLC.  So go take a look at MaeLinnaea.com,  Mae Linnaea on Etsy and check out her beautiful unique bags!  When you pick yours up, send us a comment to brag about which one is yours now!!  

Happy Shopping Nesters!!!

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Heya Nesters! I always love your feedback! So dish, because we all want to hear it! <3