Chester woman's passion for fashion inspires the creation of the Be.Loved handbag range
PUBLISHED: 21:17 15 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:17 15 April 2013
What does a girl do when she has a 100-strong collection of arm candy? Well, in Saffy Allen's case, you open your own handbag company.
Saffy had become fed up of paying too much for totes, satchels and clutches that didn’t last beyond a few months, so she took matters into her own hands; she designed a range of beautiful leather handbags with a twist, teamed up with some UK craftsmen and Be.Loved Handbags was born.
The 34-year-old takes up the story: ‘It all came about by chance, as I had been looking to do something more artistic with my life. I’d been working in the packaging industry but was keeping my eye out for something I could work on alongside my day job. What could be more perfect for someone who has a whole room in her house dedicated to shoes and handbags?’
As luck would have it, Stockport-born Saffy found a Merseyside factory she could collaborate with and the result is a collection that combines stunning style with the durability of a heritage product.
Saffy agrees that there is an element of county chic in her designs, after all, she was raised in a rural area just outside Wrexham. ‘My Equis range was inspired by my horsey roots,’ she explains.
‘I have always had horses and the bridle work on the bag is actually inspired by saddlery. Both ranges have rein fasteners, as not only are they practical but I think it makes them more interesting. The leather I use is split leather – I’ve been getting to grips with the technical side of bag making and it’s really fascinating.
‘Companies such as Mulberry use grain leather which is lovely and soft but split leather tends to be more durable. Durable isn’t very sexy but when you’re paying for one of my handbags you’re paying for something that lasts. I want to produce something that’s quite good value, something attractive but that will last more than just a few months.’
Saffy admits she found the confidence to launch her own company while working on the business degree she is about to finish this year, thanks to her fiancé Barry Glover who she marries in September in Chester.
‘We met on the internet on the Plenty of Fish website and two years later we are getting married! It’s one of their success stories,’ she says with a smile.
‘When I told him about the idea he was really great. He just said “go for it”. He’s been so supportive, I’ve converted him. He now has a man-bag.’
Saffy admits she loves the Mulberry brand and adores shoes – as well as her many handbags she also has 300 pairs, including her favourite Louboutins. However, she is aware that many women passionate about accessories also want practical well-made pieces too.
‘My ideal customer is 30/35 with or without children who likes to keep in with the fashion trends but who isn’t a slave to them,’ says Saffy.
‘Someone who appreciates value as well as style, so it’s really aimed at me! I couldn’t find it, so I made it.’
Working with an experienced team of craftsmen to develop this range of timeless classics, Saffy is so confident in the quality that the bags are guaranteed for two years.
The initial range includes Urbane, which Saffy says is great for everyday use with its subtle detailing, and there’s the aforementioned, slightly more ostentatious Equis range.
Already there are bags to cater for most tastes, with ‘wear with anything’ colour combinations as well as some brighter numbers for the more daring fashionistas who like to mix it up.
‘They are all handmade in colour saturated real leather with Be.Loved’s heart apple discretely embossed to the bottom left corner. Each bag is individually named for each customer as we hope they will become firm friends on their many adventures together.’
Limited editions to complement each season’s trends will be released throughout the year and a monochrome edition of the Equis small handbag has just been launched. She is also keen to develop styles and is planning a tote and a maternity bag for her next collection.