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Freehand Bag Story, the design process behind my new collection

I have been on the hunt for a lightweight, stylish bag I could also wear cross body or even as a backpack. When I am out of the house working I want my bag to disappear so I can use my hands freely. My solution came into being 7k miles away from my San Francisco home in a workshop in Manila Philippines.  

My design criteria were simple but not easy to fulfill.

The bag needed to be lightweight, comfortable, sturdy, and stylish. Above all it needed to be capable of being used as a bag, crossbody, and a backpack. I did not want a leather bag as they can be heavy and lose shape over the years.

I got the idea that wicker combined with leather might hold promise so I sent my partner (husband) off to the Philippines to a trade show to find a master weaver and bag maker. 
 
As he left the house for the airport I imagined the many long hours on the plane over and a few extremely hot days he would suffer in the search. After 24 hours I got my first photos from the trade show! A series of incredible woven wicker bags the likes of which I had never seen before. It was as if Hermes had designed a few of them, they were stunning. I insisted we do a live video from the show the next day so I could experience all the bags and meet the people behind the masterpieces.
 

 

What unfolded was truly a stroke of good fortune. The family who runs the workshop making the bags has been in business for 100 years. They have made bags for all of Manila’s elite and most stylish women. The matriarch and her daughter invited us to visit their workshop the following day (I would attend via video). 
 

 

I wasn't prepared for the scene I witnessed over my phone. As my husband toured the workshop I saw bag after beautiful bag being handmade one weave at a time. All shapes and styles you can imagine were coming to life right before my eyes. The workers at the shop had been with the family themselves for generations, many living on the campus of the workshop. They seemed very engaged, happy and skilled. 

 

 

Would they work with me to design the perfect bag? They would. Rita, the daughter of company head, would work with us directly to translate my designs into a woven reality. Many hours on WhatsApp and multiple samples were created over the next nine months to get it to perfect. 

Meet my new Bags:

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