Meeting with Sustainable Luxury Leather Accessories Brand Priestley
Priestleys by Karen Priestley
The brand ‘Priestleys'was established in April 2020, based in Lincolnshire and are a husband-and-wife team. They design from scratch and hand make luxury leather accessories for men and women. The surface patterns are unique, and each piece is made to order, customised, and personalised. And guess what, all products are made from responsibly sourced leather and materials too!
How did you start your accessory brand? What are your sources of inspiration?
Starting up a luxury accessory brand has been my dream for many years. After having a baby, leaving very challenging jobs and relocating I decided now was the time. My main inspiration was wanting to spend more time as a family and loved the idea of creating beautiful products that I could pass on to my daughter for years to come. All our surface patterns are inspired by the things we see around us such as nature and the places we travel.
What do you like about your job?
I have taught fashion for several years, so have been immersed with all things fashion and maintained my love for design and luxury. I have loved setting up our brand and designing our first range of products. I absolutely love accessories, so this really is my dream job.
Do you have a signature style? Tell us more about your most popular designs?
Our style is modern twists on classic pieces. We create very minimalist accessories and contrast this with our very unique and proprietary repeat patterns. Our signature collection is our ladies Eleanor collection, and the fully patterned options are our most popular with the clutch and longline purses being the most popular product. We have more recently developed our men’s collection too. Our Nelson wallet is the most popular product, with our signature pattern applied to them.
We would love to hear about your studio time and how you connect with your clients.
My husband James works full time as an engineering consultant and spends some evenings and weekends, drawing up pattern templates to help with the product development and making of the products. I am also working as a university lecturer. I have a few classes a week, so the remaining time is split between Priestleys and looking after our daughter. We have had most of our orders through word of mouth, friends of friends which is wonderful for us as it means we are building a reputation for well-crafted, quality pieces. We do get orders through our website and social media which is great too and we are grateful for every single one, and love that each product we make is exactly to the customers desires.
Do you have a muse?
Our muse without a doubt is our daughter Eleanor, absolutely every aspect of our brand is inspired by her, from our use of materials, examining what gives longevity. She also inspired the style and design of our products, we questioned what would be timeless and classic, what would still be relevant in 20 or 30 years’ time and the answer was our daughter.
What's your proudest moment in your accessory designer career? What makes you a happy artist?
I am actually proud that we are giving it a go, that we are out of our comfort zone, and taking an opportunity to grow our own brand. We also take great pride in each item that we make, it is a great sense of achievement each time we send a custom-made product to a client, we put so much time into each and every product, so it is great to hear back from each client. Designing and making, makes us incredibly happy and I feel crafting is exceptionally good for the soul and for wellbeing.
What is your dream project? If there are no limitations, what would you like to create?
My dream would be to be making a limited run of products to sell in very special places, such as Liberty London, Harrods, Net- A- Porter or others. I have a large collection of surface patterns and one day, I would love to develop a pattern that speaks to an important moment or event in an established shop history.
Do you have any accessory styling advice for your clients?
I am a great believer in Timeless Classics, invest in pieces that you will love and use for a lifetime. Invest in things that bring you joy each time you use them.
What skills are necessary to be a successful designer? Do you have any tips for the aspiring artists who want to start their own accessory brand?
Designers need to be motivated, original and dedicated. There are so many incredibly talented people everywhere, and social media means you see so much of the work of others, you need to be immersed with your own work and direction and try and switch off the noise and distractions around you.
Which of your designs is your favourite? Can you tell us the story behind it?
Our signature clutch bag is something that we are particularly proud of and you would be surprised to know that a lot of time and effort has been spent to engineer such a simple and minimal design. People would possibly think it is so simple so it must be simple to make; but actually, it has taken more time and development than the other products. Our statement Octagon bag is another product that we have been developing for some time, and we are finally on the last iterations of it which we are very excited about.
Tell us one secret that not many designers or customers know about accessory making.
Making accessories is incredibly therapeutic and enjoyable; it becomes rather addictive, and something you really look forward to doing.
What's your prediction on trends for accessories? What style or colour would you recommend for 2021/22 Autumn/Winter?
People will be investing in more statement pieces, things that have longevity as we begin to step away from fast fashion. People will really become reacquainted with traditional techniques and craftmanship and truly appreciate what they have and temper the need for more.
Do you have anything else you would like to let The Accessory Circle readers and customers know about you and your brand?
There has never been a more important time to question what we ‘need’ what things are made of and by whom than now. Every item we buy, every buying decision has a long-lasting impact, we need to be aware of this and responsible for this. So, consumers need to consider the following #buyfewerbuybetter #supportmakers #whomademythings.
London Accessory Week Team