Heather Borg INTERVIEW
A look into leatherworks
Today, we're welcoming you to our latest Meet the Maker interview. This time we sat down Heather and chatted all things leather and accessory making. We also discovered the journey to becoming British accessories brand Heather Borg, what inspires her about her craft, and the techniques behind her handcrafted products. It's a good'un so, without further ado, let's chat leather.
SGB: So, Heather what inspired you to start Heather Borg as a brand?
Heather: Well, I have always loved leather, especially when it comes to shoes and bags but I guess the real turning point came after I returned from living and working in France. After being there for a sum of 12 years, I returned to the UK and found that I had a lot of spare time on my hands. Initially, I was looking for a hobby, so I headed to Pinterest where I found a tutorial for a DIY leather bag. I got out my little sewing machine and it all started from there really.
SGB: How did you go about getting Heather Borg off the ground?
Heather: After spending a few months delving into the world of leather-working; purchasing the correct tools; sourcing out the different kinds of leather and practising my craft I reached a point where I truly believed that this could be more than just a hobby for me.
I felt I had perfected the necessary skills and was ready to take things a step further. With the help of my son, who is a product designer, he became my personal photographer and we created a website - this helped me get things off the ground. It wasn’t long after we sorted the website that my first order came along.
SGB: Where and how long did you train to become a master leatherworker?
Heather: If I’m completely honest, I initially only trained for a short number of months, in the workshop that my husband created for me, at home. It was over the course of building my brand and fulfilling the orders I receive that I managed to master what I do.
SGB: What is a typical day in the Heather Borg workshop?
Heather: The days for me vary, as it depends on what orders I have to make. If it is a bag, I usually cut and burnish the straps and clasps first and then I get to work on cutting out the pieces that make up the main body of the bag. One thing that is the same each day, is checking my orders in the morning. From there, I reply to any emails and make sure I have the correct materials for the orders that I’ve received.
SGB: Can you walk us through the process of making one of your beautiful bags?
Heather: First of all, it’s the handles and clasps. They’re cut out, burnished and then polished. I then cut the pieces for the bag along with any of the components, such as pockets, that are required. I then align the bag into position and punch the holes ready for stitching. Stitching is next. This is arguably the longest part of the process as I now hand-stitch all of my products which makes for a quality finish and a more personal touch. I also love hand-stitching as it means I can use waxed cotton threads which add an element of contrast to my piece, which I love. Once the sewing this done, the bag comes together and becomes the finished article.
SGB: What is the most satisfying part of the process?
Heather: The most satisfying part of the process has to be the finished product, I love it when everything comes together and it's all polished and ready to go to the customer.
SGB: What is your favourite tool in your arsenal?
Heather: I don’t actually have a favourite tool, as such, but I do like my wood burnishing tool, it’s just a simple wooden tool that gives the edge of the leather a beautiful finish and shine.
SGB: What makes Heather Borg bags so special?
Heather: All my bags are unique as they are all my own designs. They're made from natural, quality leather and are all made with love and great attention to detail.
SGB: What craftsmanship methods do you utilise to achieve this?
Heather: All my products are made using traditional methods and hand tools. The cutting of the handles is done using a leather strap cutter, the holes for sewing are made with a manual hole punch and the burnishing is done with a traditional wood burnisher.
SGB: When it comes to inspiration what makes you want to create?
Heather: I usually look for new colours and different types of leather. I’m very much led by the materials, it’s a case of selecting a leather and thinking up a design that lends itself to the quality and properties of that particular leather.
SGB: Are there any brands, designers or makers that inspire you?
Heather: I don’t lean towards any brands, designers or makers specifically but I am a huge fan of Pinterest. I tend to look on Pinterest for designs that are handcrafted and have a likeness to my work, I then draw my inspiration from here.
SGB: How do you make your workshop an inspiring place to be?
Heather: I love to have everything in order and tidy, I have a certain place for everything. I have a love for natural materials and so I like to surround myself with handmade products such as wooden bowls and ceramics - having these things around makes for an inspiring workspace.
SGB: How do you want people to feel when they use one of your leather bags?
Heather: I would like people to feel happy when they use my products. It is important that they feel as though they’re using something of high quality, that has been lovingly handcrafted just for them.
SGB: Can you let us into any future plans for Heather Borg as a brand?
Heather: At the moment, I’m not looking too far into the future. I am currently awaiting the completion of my new studio, so that’s something new and exciting. I also have a couple of new designs underway, but my main aim is to keep producing unique products that are handcrafted to a high standard.