Guest Blogger Gillian shares with us the fascinating world of handbag-making through her interview with Wendy Mak, Founder and General Manager of Cocomojo. Not only does Wendy share with us her valuable tips of how to care for handbags, she has even offered an exceptional discount for us!
How did you first come up with the idea of Cocomojo?
My family has been in the leather business for generations, and my father produces handbags for huge brand names such as Prada, Coach, and Marc Jacobs. He is my guide to the fashion world, as he took me along on his business trips to Europe since I was very young. After I graduated from university, I joined a luxury fashion house as a Buyer. Continuing to tag along my father’s business trips, I met an Italian designer who was trained in France. As French designs are strong with shapes and contours, whereas Italian designs play extensively with fancy details, I asked her why she didn’t mix the two schools of thought together in her designs. After a great laugh, she seriously pondered upon the idea, and this was pretty much how Cocomojo started.
Where do you find your inspiration for designing handbags?
Most of the bags are inspired by my close friends. These are the people we thought had certain distinctive traits which can be reflected through their respective bags. I talk to my friends and take their inputs on board while we design. During our design process, I can always visualize how a particular bag fits so well on somebody I know. You should know that you, Gillian, are the muse for the Gillian collection, and the Gillian bag was a great seller in our Japanese market.
Was it daunting when you started attending trade fairs as an exhibitor?
I am very privileged to have been attending trade fairs with my father prior to launching Cocomojo, so to me it is just like home. Going to Paris trade fairs such as Vendome Luxury are like visiting art galleries. Handbags displayed are so meticulously made they simply cannot be profitable in mass production. You can learn about different techniques through observation and conducting inspiring conversations on site. Paris trade fairs are known to be exclusive, and Cocomojo was fortunate to have participated in Premiere Classe Tuileries, a show that gathers all influential high-end buyers, such as Harvey Nichols. Milan trade fairs such as MIPEL, on the other hand, are very inclusive, and provide great platforms to detect the latest trends.
How did it felt like to see your shop come to life?
It was like a dream come true! Cocomojo had a smooth start up as it received tremendous support from my father, and we had much success when we began selling our pieces in European art galleries, museums, and Japanese hotel shops. During our distribution period, I have long fantasized the fabrication of a concrete shop, and when the day came, it was rather surreal. Cocomojo, after four years of distribution across Europe and Japan, is now standing pretty strong. Our next goal is to expand our range of products to other leather accessories, such as belts and hairpieces.
What is your favorite bag?
My favorite bag is Cocomojo’s Amelia bag. I love the flower blossom, and how it is layered symmetrically. Moreover, the Amelia bag is of a good shape and size, and you can fit all your daily necessities in with ease. Two of our closest friends, fellow Sassy members Jasmine and Priscilla, are never caught without their Cocomojo bags!
How would you advise us Sassy girls in taking care of our handbags?
Don’t spray your bags with chemicals that claim to protect them. Different leather has different reactions, and the result might not be what you have originally intended for. Wiping your bags with a white cotton cloth is pretty good caring already. Furthermore, storage is very important in caring of handbags. Leather has memories, and throwing your bags down the bottom pile of your closet will squeeze them into an ugly and irreversible form.
Anything you would like to share with the Sassy girls?
Buy more accessories! Shoes, bags, necklaces, earrings…Sure, designer clothing has their good reasons to be pricey, but it is how you mix and match that flaunts your individuality, and accessories can enhance that.
Sassy Discount: Sassy can offer all our members a 10% discount on Cocomojo’s 2011 Spring/Summer Collection from now until 31 March 2011. Please print out this article and bring it with you to claim your discount. Happy Shopping!