Sunday Best Market Interview: Part 2 - Convict Bags




I spoke to co-founders of the brand Convict, Karen Adie and Georgina Lewis, about their mutual  love for Australia, the raw outback and handbags.

How was Convict the brand born?

We had been friends for a while and recognised a similar creative soul. We soon started doing a few small projects together, we would often talk about something bigger but it was not until we both had a change of circumstances that we decided to take the leap!  Convict wasn’t our first idea, fortuitously the other fell through and we went on to develop our mutual love of handbags! From the outset, we had a strong sense of what we wanted the brand to be; we're part of a growing trend that doesn't want fast, disposable fashion. We love beautiful quality leathers and we have a passion for the rawness of the Australia landscape.  We wanted to create a brand that our buyers would be proud to own and keep.

How do you go about researching the stories behind your designs? 

We've worked closely with the Female Convict Organisation in Tasmania, who has been very generous in helping us seek permission from descendants.  A wonderful surprise is that we now are approached by customers with their own stories of their Convict ancestors - we've used four of them to date and we would welcome more! 

What draws you to certain historical stories that inspire your designs?

We know the Convicts faced many hardships after arriving here [in Australia] but also showed incredible resilience. We're pretty fascinated by all of them; the good, the bad, the tragic and the ordinary. We don't just want to recount the 'Convict-made-good stories' because they all have a story to tell.

What's the process of making one your pieces?

Firstly, we only design bags that we love and that we want to wear. That's our starting point.

A series of rough samples from inexpensive materials are then made. We rely on these samples more heavily than sketches as they help to determine the right proportions, features and good bag ergonomics. We try these samples on all types of body shapes and make adjustments as we go.

Sometimes we know immediately what leathers and accessories we want to use. Other times we need to do a lot of research to find materials that will give us the look and feel we want to achieve. On occasion this process is totally turned on its head.  [At times] we come across beautiful leather and afterwards work out what the best application would be. We are big on mood boards. These inform our material selection and ensure we stay true to our brand essence - raw beauty. We then prepare patterns and work with one of our makers to craft finished samples. We'll spend a month or so road testing each bag design before production.  A tweak here or there is invariably required. The work doesn't stop there though, it needs to be priced and all materials and accessories ordered. 

What would be your advice for those wanting to start their own business?

Have a strong sense of the brand and how it is unique, research your product category, who your target customer/s will be, do a business plan, even just a one pager and watch the cash flow.  Also be prepared to work hard!

Convict Bags Lei Lady Lei
Convict Lei Lady Lei

Thank you Karen and Georgina for taking the time to chat to me. 

You can find Convict and more designers and creatives at Sunday Best Market for TPFF, this Sunday, August 30 10am - 4pm at WA Museum.


Lei xx