Designer Profile: Joanna Maxham


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

To view the entire JOANNA MAXHAM collection, visit and get updates on Facebook and Twitter.

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