Since its launch in 2011, JOANNA MAXHAM handbags have been recognized both nationally and internationally, including Top 100 Best Bags by Vogue UK. We are excited to share our Q&A with accessories designer Joanna Maxham and learn more about how her design career began and the inspiration behind her newest collection.
HR: When did you first start designing handbags? Did you always want to become a handbag designer or was it a gradual transition from a different career path?
JM: Several years ago, I left a high paced corporate career in order to pursue my dream of becoming a designer. I honed my design and construction skills by working hand in hand with Italian artisans, and partnered with a small European atelier to develop my collection. I was fortunate to live in Europe at that time and had the opportunity to travel extensively and learn about the Industry from the best in craft. I have established my design business in 2009, but it took me 2 more years to actually launch the collection. It has been the most stressful yet, the most fulfilling several years and I am looking forward to continued adventure.
HR: What is the most challenging/rewarding aspects of designing handbags?
JM: I guess it’s having the final product in your hand that you feel is “100% complete”. By that I mean, that everything from proportions, color and detailing works so well together that there is nothing I would change. It actually does not happen that often. Some bags may look perfect in one color, and completely wrong in another. Sometimes the design is great – but the choice of material is not perfect. Also – many times it is a question of personal taste – I’ve learned that some styles that I am not a big fan of – sometimes turn out to be bestsellers. But in every season there are always these 3-5 pieces that I know are just right.
HR: What is your design philosophy?
JM: My goal is to design handbags that look effortless, stylish, and fresh. I am obsessed with architecturally perfect proportions, impeccable stitching and beautiful detailing. I want my bags to look modern, but at the same time be very wearable and have a timeless appeal. My mission is to support traditional leather craft and deliver luxurious product and designer level quality at contemporary price point.
HR: Where do you find inspiration when creating each piece of the collection?
JM: Current and historical fashion images, street fashion, architecture, art, nature. I like adapting new proportions, colors and details from architecture or current net-a-porter collections to handbags.
HR: Describe the woman you design for.
JM: My customer is chic, sophisticated, and with a bit of an edge. She loves fashion, and is aware of key trends, but has a strong sense of personal style. She considers accessories “investment pieces” and expects them to look fresh and relevant for a number of seasons.
HR: Which style is your best seller?
JM: The Cast Away and the Nite Cap from past seasons. This season – we are definitely getting amazing feedback about The Element.
HR: What are your personal favorite accessories?
JM: I carry a black Cast Away and a Cognac Bootcamp Mini pretty much every day. I love my handmade woven scarf with beaded scull, and my “Bullet” Cuff (by Melvin).
HR: What five accessories should every woman have in her wardrobe?
JM: 1) an oversized black tote
2) dressy clutch
3) statement cuff and/or necklace
4) a pair of diamond studs or pearl earrings
5) an amazing silk scarf