Melissa Marie Leather
We recently caught up with luxury leather brand Melissa Marie Leather, who joined us at the Country Living Christmas Fair in London this year, to find out all about the Exeter-based business.
Hand made leather bags and accessories, using the highest quality leather and traditional techniques to create quality pieces that will wear in, not out.
How did it all start?
Melissa Marie Leather started from my love of horses. I have always been around leather since a young child with my horse tack and riding boots. I wanted to learn how to repair my own tack, after looking into this I absolutely fell in love with the process, started to experiment with making my own products and Melissa Marie Leather was born.
The story behind the name…
Highly unoriginal, the name of my brand is my own name. My initials are MML, So using my first 2 names and adding leather meant the brand initials mirror my own.
Where are you based?
What inspires you?
Nature, the character and journey of each piece of leather I use. I like to display any marks and scars as a natural part of the life of the animal.
What is your creation process?
My creation process is very hands on, I like to use pencil and paper to design each piece, then work up card mock ups. This allows me to see if the size and shape is working in the way I hoped. From here I create templates, each on card to transfer onto the leather. I use traditional saddlery techniques for every item, no machines, just hands. Each item you see has been hand cut, stitched and finished by myself, meaning each one is unique in it’s own way.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
All of my work is designed and entirely hand made by myself only, I use only the highest quality leather from a tannery in my home county of Devon. I don’t believe in throw away fashion, so each piece is designed and made to last a lifetime, only gaining character with age. To aid in my slow fashion vision for my brand, each piece comes with a makers lifetime guarantee on all stitching and fastenings. The leather I use is a bi-product of the meat industry and is produced sustainably, using centuries old processes that take up to 14 months and are finished by hand, ensuring that each finished hide is not only beautiful and strong but unique too.
What is your next project?
I am currently working on a collection of homewares that I am hoping to launch next year, including candle holders and lampshades.
What is your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement so far is having 2 of my products – the Lilla tote and snap pouch – featured in Country Living Magazine, CL Fairs Emporium. I have also been accepted for a pop up in a John Lewis store.
What is your best-selling product/line?
The Lilla tote bag. The Lilla tote is the first bag I designed and made and has been a firm favourite of mine and my customers since. The bag has a very special place in my heart as my first and is named after my late dog of a lifetime, Lilly.
Your experience of your first Country Living Fair (year, exhibiting or visiting)/ What are you looking forward to the most about exhibiting at the Christmas Fair?
The Christmas fair will be my largest exhibition to date, so I am both excited and nervous! But I’m looking forward to talking to visitors about the products and processes and meeting other makers and exhibitors!
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
The amazing variety of exhibitors.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
Try not to compare your work to others (although we all do), do more of what really engages you, enjoy the process.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Figure out who you want to sell to and be patient, growth takes time.