meet the maker: kurier bags

I recently started following Kurier Bags on Instagram and while I do not support buying new leather products of any kind, I can respect Jasmine's unique approach to leather goods because she exclusively uses discarded leather, which makes her creations ethical, responsible and eco-friendly, and I totally support that. After following her for a bit on social media I reached out and asked her for a mini interview to help spread the word about her forward-thinking, eco-friendly business. I hope you enjoy getting to know Jasmine as much as I have! 

How did I get started: 
I have always sewn. I worked as a milliner to put myself through college (I attended the Maine College of Art), and then was the tailor for a high-end men's shop after that. Currently, I work as the studio assistant for a well known woman's apparel designer. Because of all this, I tend to make a lot of my own clothing. It seems I can never find exactly what I'm looking for, and the same basic thing happened with handbags. I wanted something that wasn't mass-produced and littered with logos and shiny hardware - and didn't cost a million dollars. So, I made one. I was fortunate enough to have someone give me a few scraps of leather they were throwing away and the bag came out great. Soon, I was making them for my friends and then their friends after that. Before I knew it, my bag hobby was more like a business - and it just keeps growing.

What makes it different:
I make everything myself. And I try to make every bag different. Because I use only salvaged materials, the size and shape of the leather typically dictates what the bag will look like. And, I make sure that not only is it unique it's useful. All of my bags have a little "snap tab" sewn inside. And all of my accessories have a snap - which means they all snap into the bags - making it easy to keep track of things like your keys and wallet. 

Why I use recycled materials:
I use recycled leather because it's the right thing to do. Morally, I could never justify using "new" leather. I live in Maine, a state with a long history of shoe manufacturing. Luckliy, that means I have access to beautiful first quality leather remnants and scraps. I love digging through the factory discards to find pieces I can use. Sometimes it's as much fun as making the bag itself! 

The business name:
Kurier is the polish translation "courier". My family is Polish, so it seemed like a great way to say exactly what my bags are intended to do: carry stuff. And the pigeon - pigeons are great! They are one of the few species that has found a way to co-exsist somewhat peacefully with the human race - I respect that. Plus, they're pretty innocuous in day-to-day life - I like to think my bags are like that too.

It seems like there are too many obstacles! I'm a single-mom with a regular (and demanding) full-time job. Sometimes I just want to curl up with a good book and relax at night, but it's not an option when I have a list of special orders calling my name. And then there are the times when I just don't have any ideas, things don't come out as I thought they would, etc. - I just fight through it. Whenever my creativity is blocked I clean my studio. It's amazing what a little time not pressuring yourself to work can do for your thought process. 

The best advise I've gotten was very simple "be prepared to hear people say 'no' a lot. And keep doing what you're doing - because eventually you'll hear 'yes'". And it's the advise I try to pass on to other folks trying to start a business doing what they love. 

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