Sally and Jay are a couple that are after our heart, they love to travel so much that they built their whole brand around their wanderlust experiences. These two are a powerhouse, a duo that are set to take the fashion industry by storm with their accessories label. With craftsmanship being key in all of their pieces, here at House of Coco we respect everything that they are about. So much so, that we just had to go along to find out more.
Here, we talked to #girlboss Sally about the brand, what style means to them and so much more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
KONOC is a new British accessories label. We make hand crafted leather and suede bags from our studio in the south of England. We launched at the ‘Top Drawer’ trade show at Olympia in London January’16 and our website www.konoc.com launched on the 1st of February this year.
My partner Jay is originally from Thailand and we lived over there for 5 years before moving back to the UK at the end of 2014. We taught ourselves the art of hand stitching leather on the sunny beaches of Koh Samui. It first started out as more of a hobby but soon developed into something more. We used to sell our creations at various night markets around the island and had a small boutique in one of the busy shopping towns, Bophut.
We moved back to the UK just over a year ago and decided to launch our new leather bag label KONOC over here. 2015 was a full on year for us, with arriving back in the UK, setting up home, having our second little bambino Maddi and starting up a new business! It’s been a ride so far but I believe there is never a ‘perfect time’ to do anything so we thought ‘why not just do it all now’!
We have received great response to the brand so far and have a few exciting things lined up this year, so keep an eye out!
Whats your background?
I have always loved being ‘creative’ since I was a little girl and studied art, graphics, textiles and photography through school, college and uni! I have explored a lot of different media through the years and I think these have all helped in the inspiration and creation of KONOC’S first collection ‘Wanderlust’. Jay is also a really gifted artist and we are both very visual people. There are art work, bags and photos all over our house! Not a bare wall in sight!
When we were starting out we didn’t design bags in your (shall we say) ‘typical’ way. We didn’t do drawings or use any design program on the computer, not even any templates! We just sat with hides of leather, a cutting mat and a rotary knife and started cutting! It’s only from talking to others that we realised this wasn’t considered the most ‘normal’ way to create a new design, but it worked for us and we still do it today!
I remember the day I had finished making my first bag sitting on our beach fronted balcony in Samui, feeling this incredible sense of success and loved that my creation had come together within hours! I’m not the most patient of people, so I found leather such a joy to work with as results started to develop the moment you cut the pieces out.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
I think that’s so difficult to say as we have only really just started! So maybe ask me again in a year! I’m sure I’ll have lots to talk about then.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
I guess, even though I am English, I have never made bags here before, so I think its been hard sometimes for both of us getting used to the way things work in this industry in the UK compared to Thailand – It took us a while to find the right suppliers and costings are obviously considerably higher here than in Thailand. Neither location is necessarily “better”, they are just very different, for instance – working on Thai time generally means ‘things will be ready when they are ready and rarely done on schedule’!! This very relaxed approach to life and work is great most of the time but could get a little frustrating sometimes! Although don’t get me wrong, being able to spend most of our days on the beach was never a chore! Everything is a lot more ‘official’ and ‘organised’ over here and it takes a little getting used to when you have never worked this way! We are learning every day and are seeing the benefits as things actually turn up on time! Which is great!
2016 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
We love what we do and feel massively lucky for that! We are both really dedicated to making KONOC work and think focusing on the UK market to start with makes total sense as we have a real ‘made in Britain’ ethos behind the brand, with all production done in house at our studio in Cranleigh and sourcing as much of our leathers and fittings from UK suppliers as we can. This doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking world domination in the future as I think we have real potential to branch out to the rest of Europe and have already had some interest from Japan, which is somewhere I think KONOC would really thrive. We would be nothing without our KONOC fans from all around the world and truly love and appreciate each and every customer we get!
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
There are a couple of things in the pipe line which are still a little hush hush but I have to say for me, the highlight so far since launching our website in Feb this year has to be when the incredible Make up artist and YouTuber Nicola Haste (Chapman) – one half of Pixiwoo, posted a pic on IG of her with her KONOC Dipper tote bag! Back in the day when I was a Make-up Artist in London I used to watch all her youtube videos over and over again. She was and still is such an inspiration to me as a make up artist, total babe and an amazing (fellow) working mum and with 2M youtube subscribers and 440,000 IG followers she is certainly doing something right, so it was a real high to know she supported the brand!
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Im going to say LONDON (as Koh Samui isn’t on the list) although I don’t live in Shoreditch now, I love to visit the “big smoke” – revisiting old favourites as well as exploring new places and creating new memories. I find it such an inspiring place and there is always something going on.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Now this is a tricky one as I studied and worked as a make up artist in London and Thailand and so it is a little secret obsession of mine and my bathroom cupboard is pretty full. Although I don’t actually wear a huge amount, I can’t leave the house with out a bit of concealer ( MAC – Pro Longwear) , a load of blush ( Bobbi Brown – Nude Peach) and my brows done (MAC eye brows crayon – Lingering). I also am a big fan of a nice hand cream (kiehl’s do a lovely one) and I am a big fan of Neals Yard for face creams – their nourishing frankincense cream is my favourite!
I love it when I see people who look like they haven’t made an effort but still look incredible! (If that makes sense?) I don’t like looking over styled! Effortless and fairly casual is my kind of thing! I wear a lot of natural colours and love a stripe!
Statement shoe or statement bag?
I love both, although never really been a heels kinda girl! But I think it would be rude to say anything other than ‘bag’ here!
I’m much better now, but I used to have a wardrobe which was just full of bags, one for every day of the year!
Now it’s more about quality over quantity. I have my few favourites and am a real believer that leather just gets better with age. Most of mine are big totes these days as I LOVE a big bag! For me KONOC’s Dipper totes and Dove shoppers are my everyday go to bags! The Dippers are made from beautiful nubuck leather, which is sueded to produce a super velvet-like surface. Very luxurious and so tactile. They come in a choice of deep midnight blue and jet black with contrasting veg tan straps. Its a bag I original designed for myself as I wanted something simple, strong, functional and that could be used day or night – Luxurious function!
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
I think I would have to say my favourite pair of skinny, high-waisted jeans – I can dress them up or down and happily wear them day or night. I wouldn’t actually know what to do without them as probably do wear skinny jeans everyday.
Favourite love song
Bruce Springsteen-Secret Garden – it literally gives me goose bumps every time I hear it!!
Best place for a coffee?
One of my favourite places from when I lived in London is ‘Jaguar Shoes’ in Shoreditch. This place has a lot of memories for me, not just over drinking coffee as it is a popular party venue, but it’s open during the day too and their coffee is pretty awesome. They also hold exhibitions every 6 weeks and I always found it really inspiring to see up and coming creatives show case their new work.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
By far the most memorable piece of advice given to me was from my incredible (late) friend Trusha. We lived together in East London for years in a creatives dream house share! There was Celia – fashion stylist and I – make up artist at the time (on the top floor) and then Kelly – illustrator and Trush – Menswear designer on the 1st floor and Burnie the Dalmatian on the ground floor. We had great fun together and it was some of the best years of my life. We were all young, free and a little wild at times but had time to really explore what we wanted to do! He told me “do what makes you happy” and Ive never forgotten it.
I have a massive secret crush on James Corden! sssshhh!!
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would say somewhere I have never been before as I think it is so important to experience as much as you can in life and I believe you can learn huge amounts from travelling and exploring different countries and cultures. I have been extremely lucky to experience so many adventures through different countries, all over the world but one place I haven’t been and am desperate to go is Japan.
We love what Instagram is all about and I love taking a pic of everything from what Im eating, where we are going, what I am wearing to what we are making and where our inspiration comes from – you can see what we are up to on IG HERE as well as facebook and twitter.