One of the dangers of being a blogger is you can end up becoming tethered to your laptop or desk. Writing articles, doing research, editing photos, replying to e-mails; the time adds up quickly and you can easily sit down at your workspace and not move for 6-7 hours.
So I try to balance it out by getting away from the computer and visiting events, showrooms and meeting the people I’m writing about as much as possible.
Which is easier said than done considering we cover people from all over the world.
Sometimes it all works out though and whilst visiting family in Holland I was lucky enough to be able to take up an invite from Maringe to visit her atelier in Amsterdam and see where the beautiful Maringe designs the most stunning leather bags and accessories for women and children.
We also managed to squeeze in an interview, which means Interview Monday is back, and in some style, make sure you sit down with your cup of coffee and enjoy!
Would you mind introducing yourself and your brand to our readers?
In 2010 I began my label MARINGE in Amsterdam. With my diploma Fashion-designer in the pocket, and working different types of jobs. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I missed value in fashion. Fashion is fast, really fast. Before you know it something new and beautiful is outdated and has become useless. I went on a search for lasting value. Something that lives longer than a season. When I accidentally walked in a leather workshop I fell…. I fell hopelessly in love. I decided to master this material and craft. I found the only education, exciting at that time, in Holland that taught the craft of making leather bags.
Despite the fact that a bag is a fashion-item as well, it has a longer lifespan and is of great value to its carrier. A bag is made of living material. From the moment a bag becomes yours it will only get prettier. Because of your touch it will be yours more and more. You make the bag what it is. Your bag lives the same life as you do.
We make all the bags ourselves by hand and with great pleasure. I believe it’s the best craft I could have chosen to practice. I love beautiful material and a timeless product. The color of the leather makes every bag unique. For the bags we use leather that shows it’s original skin and structure. No thick layers of paint that cover the skin, because you wear it on your own. We like it to be skin to skin.
After my education in making leather bags, I was lucky to be able to do an internship at Hermine van Ziel. For connoisseurs and fans of classic bags she is an institute.
Now I work for myself with a lot of help of friends and family. We hope to fulfill all your bag, purse, shopper-wishes.
I focus on making bags that last. Skin to skin, for many years.
What got you started working in childrens design?
Well it where my own kids of course. My girls love to dress up or do as I do. They even imitate grandma with all her rings and make-up. Quote from Isis: ‘Now I’m a beautiful old lady like grandma’, but too many times the tiara’s, the princess dresses, girlie purses or other gifts they got, left them sad. Because it had broken, ripped or fallen apart within a week. Also, my oldest had a bag from a fellow designer, but it was too small. So I made one myself. Isis has the purse I made for her for a few years now and is still very happy with it. Everything gets carried around in it! Rocks, feathers, drawings, hairpins, candy, anything really..
Most people keep the first pair of shoes from their children as a beautiful sentimental reminder of that period in their live. I hope moms will keep this first real bag from their daughters as well. For a future generation to use or just look at it, and hang it in the nursery.
Do you have children?
Yes I have two red cheeky and sweet daughters. My oldest ‘Isis’ was born in 2011, and my youngest ‘Reva’ is from 2013.
Both their names have something with French. Isis’ full name is Isis Soleil because she brought the sun in our lives. And Paris is FULL with references to the god Isis. Reva’s full name is Reva Nona wich is a combination of the french word for dream ‘ Reve’ (with the roof over the e which I can never find on my computer) and the more common name: Reza. And Nona stands for making our family complete, because my twin brothers used to call each other Nona, before they could speak properly. And a very spicy detail, I’m not really sure I want published: Reva was made in Paris. I found out in front of Musee D’orsay.
What has changed in your life since you became a mother?
What not? Besides having no time for myself?
I can best describe it in the words of a friend; However shitty your day is, or how empty your bank account is. At the end of the day, if your kids are alright and happy, its still a good day.
And before I had kids I had this place in my soul/body that could sometimes feel lonely or hollow. The moment I had Isis, it was gone. I could literally feel like something filled it up. Like a warm glow in my stomach, or the sun touching my skin after standing too long in the cold shadow. Well I think that’s enough material for a sobby tear jerking mother/daughtersong by John Mayer?!
What is the best thing about being a mother?
See above. And the fact that they are so funny!
What is your advice for new mums?
Stay relaxed!! There are too much do’s and don’t’s nowadays.
And what I really find important is that you let your kids find their strength. Let them climb a bit higher than you want. Encourage them. Just be ready to catch them when they fall.
How do you combine motherhood and work?
Pfff.. How do I? I think it’s fair and honest to say, that I’m not perfect at it. I do have the normal workdays covered with 2 days daycare for Reva, one grandma-day, a daddy-day and mummy-day. I pick Isis up from school at 15;30. But as an entrepreneur you always have the extra work you can’t say no to. A good business opportunity isn’t something you can just say no to, because you already worked 4 days. It just doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of mothers can relate to that. I do always try to make up for it, a few days later by spending some extra time, and not mop the floors or fold 2 piles of laundry. Luckily I have a supporting husband!
How do you make sure everything is in balance (work, family, friends)?
Well… Basically I told my close friends I can (almost) only see them after childrens bedtime!
I don’t want my kids to pay the price for my desire to be a bag designer. I wished for them. Not the other way around.
Luckily, most of my best friends have kids too. We can meet with kids in daylight. It’s just a phase…
Tell us a bit about your drive and purpose, your vision for your designs.
My drive for making bags, was my own resistance against fast fashion. I truly believe a bag can last for many years, without losing it’s fashionable value.
I try to design is simple as possible. My mantra when working on a new design is: What would Dick Bruna do? Or what would Gerrit Rietveld do? They where masters in the art of simplifying. It’s easy to add, but less is more. (not my own quote obviously)
Next to the fact that, less is more, in the design. Less is also less if you look at the costs. The more I have to do for a design, the more a shop has to charge the customer in the end.
What current trends are you keeping track of? Any that you just can’t stand?
I’m not really following trends. Actually, I try to stay as far away from trends as I can. Unfortunately, a lot of designers might recognise this problem: When you are a creative person you work partially on instinct, you have antlers of some kind. And a lot of times you recognise your design in a trend a few years later. I call it the Trend-trap.
What do you feel makes your work unique?
I think it’s better if an outsider would tell you, because I’m so deep in it. I have no bird perspective.
To try: I would say: it has a bit of my character. Feminine but tough, no hassle. I do always look for a second layer. Something unexpected.
What’s your favorite piece from your current line? Any all time favorite(s)?
At the moment I like everything in my collection. That’s narcistic you could say, but the things I liked less, have been removed from it. So there where definitely some less favourite designs, but their gone. I wish I had a larger collection I’m still missing some essential pieces. But I have come to terms with the fact that I have little time to design, next to producing.
Come to think of it: I do have one favourite design: I designed gloves as well. They are the perfect glove/mittens anyone could wish for! Really 😉 trust me!
What are some essentials that every child should have in their closet?
I Think every child should have good materials in their clothes. Wool, cotton or any other natural fiber. And also very important: fairtrade to say the least. And if your wallet allows you, it should be made with respect of mother earth. I know this is a Utopia, but every good buy, makes a little difference. I’m no saint either, but I try.
And for style: No two persons have the same taste, so whatever you or your child loves.
Or a combination of the two.
Where do you shop for you children?
I shop at Imps and Elfs +friends, Kids case, De kleine Parade, Zippy (a little childrens shoe store in Amsterdam), lots of second hand and my guilty (see my statement above) pleasure is Cos Kids. Why is there no Cos-kids department in Amsterdam?!
If one of our readers is in your city, which is, for 24 hours. What things would you recommend they do?
If you are not Dutch I would reccoment you DON’T rent a bike when you visit Amsterdam. Lot’s of tourists do that, but for not-natives its DANGEROUS (and annoying for us)
I would go and see the museum of bags “Hendrikje”
See the Van Gogh (on Fridays they’re open till 22;00) and Rijksmuseum and stedelijk museum (and buy one of my etuis in their museumshop;-)) All in one square, so easily accessible.
Buy a record from Herman van Veen of De Dijk ( do people still buy records?)
Eat apple pie at the Noordermarkt or in the winter eat a bowl of comforting snert (thick pea soup) in a cosy café where they have lots of different local draftbeers (maybe Brouwerij “de Prael” in the not so red light district near central station).
I love the Haarlemmerstraat and the streets south of it for shopping.
And afterwords I would go dancing in Westerpark. They have different types of music venues in one place.
Website: Marine Amsterdam – maringe-amsterdam.com
Maringe’s daughter with a design from her mother.