Shop The Handbag Awards

DESIGNER OF THE DAY

Lauren Mead

Louella Odié

We're a mother-daughter design team,originally from England but currently living in the Far East in Hong Kong. As a family we share a love for oceans and islands and every shade of blue. When Karen and Lauren were having lunch in Steephill Cove on the Isle of Wight, which was home, to celebrate the end of Karen’s MA in Print Making and her upcoming relocation to Hong Kong, we fantasized about how lovely it would be to bring all of these important elements in to one project. Six months later, Lauren’s job in fashion lifestyle marketing finished and the prospect of being our own bosses seemed too good to miss so we decided to go in to business together.

We decided to name our business Louella Odié, in honour of our grandmother, who also has a love of exotic travel and is obsessed by blue and white ceramics. Karen had been experimenting printing on fabric and leather, so printing on hand bags and silk was a logical next step. Although we are both currently based in Hong Kong, our hearts are between islands and our products reflect our love of art and adventure. Louella Odié is for bold women who aren't afraid of colour, adventure, print and the alternate paths life can take you on. As we were just starting out we launched with a small collection which we will be adding to as we go along. (Pssst - Second collection launches late August!) We hope that our customers will recognize our passion and love for our quirky little brand. K & L

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Karen had been looking for a way to make her work more accessible for customers, and she loved the idea of specifically designing bags and accessories for women that could incorporate the most important elements of her work: humour, bold colours, non-repeating and challenging patterns. Lauren had been working in fashion branding and marketing for Asian and Middle Eastern markets, so when her job ended it seemed logical to join forces. As mother and daughter we are incredibly close, but sharing studio space and launching our first collection together has only taken that further!

Karen trained in traditional printing and lino carving techniques whilst studying for a Masters in print making at university in the UK. Since then she has exhibited her work from London to Hong Kong, and worked in a number of different mediums. She had been experimenting printing on fabric and leather, so printing on hand bags and silk was a logical next step when she recruited Lauren to join her to start Louella Odié.

Karen gets visual inspiration from everything she sees around her, but in Hong Kong she particularly likes the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural. Inspiration could come from walking through the sea-front markets in Hong Kong, seeing the traditional bamboo bird cages hanging up, the old men who play mahjong at tiled tables underneath them. It could also just as easily come on trips back to the Isle of Wight (home in the UK) and seeing the boats sailing in the Solent and traditional English summer days. The one thing that ties it all together is this feeling of island living - small communities where you can take time to find the hidden gems that make a place tick.

Karen starts off with a piece of lino, which she hand carves the design on to directly. This is then printed on to paper (or sometimes straight on to the leather or fabric that will be used) The print is then photographed and transferred to the computer before being digitally printed on to our bags. Some of our prints start off as huge pieces of lino (such as the print on the Bauhinia bag, which is actually about 4ft x 6ft in real life and hangs over the dining table at home!) but we can manipulate the image on the computer to focus on different areas of the print. Karen works in extreme detail and some of her prints can take 2-4 days or more to complete. They are also available as framed prints for the wall for anyone who may want to match their home decor to their arm candy!

We're very excited to be launching our second collection at the end of August and will be adding new products regularly every month until the end of the year. In September we'll be launching in London at a trade fair, so UK customers should hopefully start to spot Louella bags popping up at bespoke boutiques and stores within weeks! We're expanding our collection to include clutches, pouches and smaller satchel style bags too, but everything we bring out will still be soaked in tropical sunshine and inspired by island living. We're passionate about our quirky little brand, and we hope our customers will recognise that and join us to celebrate bold patterns, original artwork and island life.

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