How was it going from the ‘Law World’ to the ‘Design World’?
The process is the same in my head. Maybe I’m a bit twisted but when you’re a lawyer you have a case and you need to get from A to B. So, you need to, (especially defence work), be taking instructions. You’ll be working out what your defence is, what your strategy is, how to get to the final conclusion.
When you’re making a handbag, your case is going to be your first sketch. So, you have an idea, you have a sketch; you make a template, you make a sample, you design a prototype, it then becomes a living thing and at the end you have a bag. In terms of the logistics between the two professions. The logistics are the same even though they’re both totally different areas. But, the mindset of getting from A to B is the same. To me. That’s probably how I’ve adapted it.
Another designer might say, “well no, I think it’s different”. I think for me that’s how it works. I didn’t really find it difficult.
The very first sewing machine I bought was the wrong one. I kept snapping the needle, because obviously you’re sewing leather. You need an industrial one. Well, I didn’t know. I went and spent £300 on this sewing machine and every time I went to sew the needle would break. My friend, she knew someone at a sewing school, she was like “Keri, what machine are you using”, so I told her and she was like “No Keri… you need to go back”. I was like OK. Thank you. There have been loads of things along the way, but, it’s a learning curve.
The inspiration for the Rene Brunel bag was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, where did that come from?
Well, I’m from Bristol. So, when I was growing up it was the highlight of every year to go to the SS Great Britain. It was important to me to show it in a good light because it did become part of, and have some kind of slave trade links. That’s fact. That still doesn’t take away the fact that it was a great ship.
It was the first steamship built with raw iron, that sailed the Atlantic, it was designed by hand. He was an artist as well, a lot of people don’t know that. What I was trying to do with it was to see if we could replicate the old materials and make something contemporary, more modern.
The leather that we used is nubuck leather, it’s quite rustic and quite old. The studs, we were able to find some raw iron studs. What we did was, the studs aren’t 100% raw iron. We had them melted with silver to give a more new look because if we had used the original raw iron, to the naked eye, it would just look like rust.
Basically, in the Victorian times, there were a lot of florals and flowers in Victorian homes. Red and pink roses in the wealthy homes. We kind of came up with a design that encapsulated all of that.
What is a normal day for you?
Before gin, not after gin?
So, my normal day is to stretch for my phone, and check my emails. My typical day, I usually start about 7/7:30am. 7:30am until about 9:30am it’s emails. I then do social media for an hour (9-10).
Then, I catch up with the brand ambassadors, find out their schedules, have they got anything booked this week.
Are we going to be at any events with any of the bags, because then I can fit them into the rota. I then do a stock inventory everyday, I then know what’s in stock and what’s not in stock. I then check materials.
There is probably an hour where I’m just lying on the floor.
It is kind of different now, our Rene Brunel bags are our first manufactured bag. I have that taken away from me now. But, before that, it was every afternoon I’d be making bags. It’s trying to manage the time that I do have. Networking events. Then back to designing. I sketch 3 times a week, it used to be every day but I find that I get brain clog.
So, I sketch Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I don’t sketch for anymore than 4 hours. I work on 3 designs at a time but I’m only looking at one design each week, I think this works for me.
That’s what my day to day looks like.
I’m just making sure that everything is in place.
Do you have any advice for someone who is looking to start their own business?
Good or bad?
Make sure you keep your day job. Make
sure you have finance, you have some back up.
Make sure you’re prepared to make mistakes.
Be prepared to be criticised. You’ve got to develop very thick skin because you might think you have a great product and people don’t. Have your wits about you, because people are not what they seem in the fashion industry.
Stay true to yourself.
Be authentic. Don’t let them change your
morals and your beliefs. If you don’t believe in something, don’t do it. Try not to conform to what you think they want you to be. Stick by your design. Stick by the thing that you create.
Stick to it.
Interview conducted by Ariadna, Emilia, Reem and Rianna
Keri Andriana is the founder of the high fashion designer, Amschela. Being rated the 26th coolest person in Bristol, the Amschela bags are featured in Vogue and Vanity Fair, with Keri Andriana walking the red carpet herself. Living in between Bristol and London, Keri Andriana prides herself in keeping all her photographers and models Bristol based. Being made redundant at a law firm, Andriana’s sons urged her to start a fashion brand – a passion which began as a child – nearly three years later the bags feature at high profile events with celebrity customers.