"I don't follow trends, I mainly follow my heart"
In conversation with a Dutch bag designer
You have a dream. As a little girl you fantasize about designing your own bag later and making it your job. That this shouldn't be just a dream is proven by the owner of mrs. Rosehip. While working on a successful career as an art journalist, she decided to drastically change her life at the age of 50 to pursue that dream. Mrs. Rosehip now makes beautiful bags with leather from Leatherbox and inspires others with her certified training as a bag maker. Meanwhile, Mrs. Rosehip received a prize from the Bijenkorf and her bags are even worn by royals. On a beautiful summer day we spoke to Roos in her studio in The Hague.
From art journalist to bag designer. Can you tell us how that went?
When I was young I had two dreams: to do something in art or my own bag label. It became art. Before that I first went to the "Vrije Acedemie" for a year, because I thought I couldn't judge a painting if I had never held a brush in my hands myself. I worked there with all kinds of materials. Not to become an artist, but to understand the techniques. I did the same with bags. I took them apart to see how to put them back together.
While studying art history in Leiden, I became editor of the university magazine. Then you roll from one thing to the next and that's how I became an art journalist and eventually editor-in-chief of an art magazine. But even though I chose art for a long time, I always kept the idea of doing something with bags in the back of my mind. When I turned 50, I came to a turning point in my life and I thought it was a good time to make a drastic switch.
Many would not dare to make such a choice. Why give up a successful career for an uncertain future?
Journalism is really fun, but you also live in a pressure cooker of deadlines and jet lag. I traveled all over the world and was away from home a lot. Then I missed another birthday or drink because I was always away and I didn't like that anymore. Then I decided to start something new. I sold my apartment and that was my starting capital. At my own pace, I then first followed a course to learn how to make bags.
How did you market your label from that situation?
First I thought carefully about what would be the right time and place for this. I launched mrs. Rosehip at the Meesterlijk fair in Amsterdam in 2015. There I came into contact with the store manager of the Hendrikje bag museum in Amsterdam. After that it went fast. In January I was in the museum. The bags sell very well there to Americans and Taiwanese. Americans love handmade and Dutch design and they are often willing to pay the right price for it.
For example, I do not use child labor and low-wage countries. All materials I use come from Europe and are produced in the Netherlands. This means that such a bag is more expensive than one that a child costs €0,30. has put together. That's why I don't want to start making thousands of bags, because then the entire production process will change. People sometimes say to me: 'You are the Max Havelaar of bags'. I think that's a compliment.
Does your background in art inspire your designs?
Certainly. My pleated bags are my trademark. If you look into the history of art, you can already see folds in materials in antiquity. It is so beautiful how those artists were able to apply smoothly falling folds in stone. It's almost a denial of the material. You can also see those pleats in the collars of clothing from the Golden Age. I am the only one who also incorporates that into a complete line of bags.
How do you always come up with innovative ideas?
Designing is a very slow process and it is quite a challenge to keep renewing yourself. Still, I'm not afraid of that, because there are plenty of ideas. Because I want to make the pleats stand out as beautifully as possible, my bags are quite minimalistic and sleek.
It's about your authentic handwriting what you add to it. There are designers that you immediately recognize by their design. That can be something very simple, such as stitching or an imprint, it is their handwriting. You have to find a differentiator. For me it's the pleats. When you see a pleated bag like that, it's 99% sure it's mine. When designing, I mainly look at what I really like. I don't follow trends, I rather follow my heart.
How does designing make you feel?
You can compare that to writing. The feeling of making something out of nothing. I like that process of creating. At first you only have the leather, your machine and your thread, but the end result after endless planing is beautiful. And when it's done you'll be happy. I also have the patience for it and I work very precisely. I will continue until I am really satisfied.
Why do you like working with leather so much?
Because it's stubborn material. With leather you always have a moment when you think 'no hey!', but I like that about it. You really have to impose your will on leather. And it is sustainable, because it is a residual product. The rest is eaten. Textiles are more harmful to the environment.
You work with Leatherbox leather. Why did you choose to collaborate with them?
Because Justin (the founder of Leatherbox) has the same quality requirements as me. Only the best is good enough. In addition, we get along well. I find that to be two very important points when I work with someone.
A bag of yours was on display at the royal ball. How did that happen?
A student went there and asked if she could wear one of my clutches. Of course you hope that you will be picked up one day, but I believe that the harder you chase something, the less you succeed. It is best to look at the world with an open mind and then it will stumble right up your alley. But of course it's nice when friends carry my bags on such occasions.
You already have a number of famous celebrities who have a bag from you, for whom would you love to design a bag?
Of course for Maxima and Megan Markle. One foreign royal already has a bag from me. She stayed at Hotel des Indes, where my bags are displayed in the display case.
With your bag making course you are now also training others. What do you like about that?
Transfer knowledge. I also liked that in my time as editor-in-chief. To really help people how to approach something. When people learn something, they go home happy and that also gives me positive energy. I have one politician as a student and she also calls making bags 'yoga for the mind'.
Moreover, I also think it is very important that the craft is preserved. Being able to transfer the knowledge about the techniques is the nicest thing there is.
What advice would you most like to give to others who want to design?
That authenticity is the most important thing. The best product is the product that belongs to you. You can copy others and then you have a bag, but it is not your bag. Inventing something yourself is much more fun. That's why I really try to open the doors to creativity during the courses. You have to be patient and not afraid to make mistakes. Creativity is also just hard work and practice makes perfect. This applies to learning technology, but also to creativity.
What are your future dreams? Is there anything you would really like?
Always. I still have a lot of friends in art and it continues to inspire me. That is why I would like to enter into a collaboration with an artist. I also want to develop a men's line. And I only have a few models of bags left. Of course more needs to be added.
Mrs. Rosehip designs bags and gives courses with the highest quality leather. For this she uses Leatherbox grain leather, which is very suitable for designer items. Do you want to know more about following a bag making course at mrs. rosehip? Check out www.cursustassenmaken.nl.
Do you already make bags or other designs and are you looking for the highest quality leather for this? View collecties leather from Leatherbox.