At House of coco we love to support craftsmen and always appreciate a well made accessory so when we stumbled across Kuku Big Bag we were over the moon. Kuku Big Bag is a brand of handcrafted, functionally designed leather accessories. They are a modern take on traditional leather work and the belief in maintaining this art is upheld by the individual craftsman who hand make each bag.When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Kuku Big Bag launched at the end of 2013 after a break away from graphic design and advertising. It evolved initially from a passion for traditional craft and the desire to create objects that are specific to my taste and aesthetic, as they were products that I didn’t manage to find in shops.
Whats your background?
Initially, I studied Visual Communication back in Sydney, Australia and then moved onto a Master of Design in for exhibition. After moving to London in 2010, I went into the advertising industry and enjoyed the buzz and culture of this growing industry. I worked primarily in web design and video, and in my spare time, I would participate in workshops from linocut, letterpress to leatherwork. I had a great experience working in advertising, however, I eventually felt the monotony of staring at a computer screen and this began to take its toll on both my interest and creativity.
In 2013, I moved to Amsterdam. At this point, I began to take a lot of interest in traditional leatherwork. It was here that I had the growing desire to work more slowly and experiment with traditional leather craft in a modern way. Eventually, I brought my day to day back to working with my hands and away from digital. The experiments gradually became a range of leather products which became the beginnings of Kuku Big Bag.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
The Kuku Big Bag brand is run by myself as founder, designer and maker. I have invaluable freelancers, apprentices and suppliers who are also involved in parts of production, operations and marketing.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
If I was to start over, I would have spent more time finessing my branding and creative language before launching. At the beginning, I was eager to get out there and test the market. I think that would have helped with the market positioning. Although, I don’t think it was a bad decision that I had tested the market with the Hendrick tote and Charlie backpack first. Now, I am more aware which aspect of the brand needs work and where investments should be made.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
The biggest challenge since the brand was launched has definitely been sales and marketing. The fashion industry is saturated and to stand out amongst your competitors is difficult. Kuku Big Bag is unmistakably a design-led product and it has taken a substantial amount of time in testing markets and fairs, and approaching stores both fashion-centric and product design-led to finally have a clearer idea of its positioning.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I had wanted to be a music composer.
2015 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Yes indeed! It is 2015 and I hope to take the brand onto the next level. The brand so far has 2 design range of the colourful Chinese takeaway boxes and the Studio range. While these 2 ranges are enjoying their successes and completing the unique and modernist look for our customers, I aim to stamp Kuku Big Bag amongst the creative industry by developing more bespoke work and collaborations with other creative conscious brands and companies.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
The highlight to date would definitely be winning the Leathersellers/Cockpit Arts Award for 2015. It is a prestigious prize offered to British leather makers who work exclusively with traditional methods. The prize offers a one year worth of studio space in the especially designed leather hub in the Cockpit Arts Studio and a year of business development.
What is the one product you would recommend from your range for men looking to treat their lady?
The Tea handbag. It is in our signature Chinese takeaway box range. For any man shopping for their loved one, this will undoubtedly help you stand out from the rest of the shoppers as you would have managed to find something rather unique in the market in terms of design. For the ones on the receiving end, you will stand out from the rest with this unusual, well-made, fun but elegant leather handbag, expertly handcrafted by a modern British craftsman.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
Having learnt the art of traditional leatherwork, I understand how precious this art is. I have been on a mission to spread this skill over the past 2 years by offering leathercraft workshops in London, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. I hope to create a team of makers as part of Kuku Big Bag with the skills to create the range using traditional methods of leather work, making it a London based leatherwork studio.
Where can people find out more?