We sat down with artisan, maker and award-winning designer Sarah Williams, the founder of Williams Handmade and maker behind the Noted x Williams Handmade collaboration to talk about her inspiration, ethos and process.
Tell us a bit about your background? what did you do before?
When I finished my A-levels I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but had always been creative so I did an art foundation course at Hereford College of Arts, I carried on there to do a degree in Design Crafts. During the degree I started working with leather and went on some leather short courses. After my degree I still wasn't sure what career I wanted so I had a year out and worked and went travelling on an around the world plane ticket! I then did a Masters at London College of Fashion in Fashion Accessories. LCF has a specific leather college (Cordwainers) and it was while I was here that I knew I would like to start my own leather goods label. After the Masters I got a job as a product developer/sample maker for a leather goods manufacturer. The experience i gained working there was invaluable to me. After a few years working there I cut down my hours to part time and began working on Williams Handmade part time, until eventually it became my full time job.
What is the inspiration for the collection?
We worked together with Laura and Paul to develop a collection which we believe the Noted. customers will love. It is all about designs which are classics and will still be relevant in years to come, a wardrobe staple which is not going to go out of fashion at any point. We have done this by choosing styles which are practical yet stylish and leathers and colours which will sit well with any outfit.
Where was it crafted?
All of the products are made by hand by myself in my workshop. I am very lucky to have a beautiful purpose-built workshop, built by my carpenter husband, in my garden in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside.
Could you talk a bit about your work process? Are you particular about the tools of your trade?
All of the products are made by hand. I make all of the patterns myself so the designs are unique to us. The leather is marked out and carefully cut by hand. The panels are put together and stitched on my vintage sewing machine. The straps are riveted on and all fittings added by hand. The edges are all sanded and painted. All of the processes are a labour of love and take so much longer than a mass-produced product, but will hope the love, care and attention that goes into making each product is reflected in the final quality.
What's the secret local spot in Herefordshire that you love?
I love walking on Bircher Common
What makes you smile?
My dogs 🙂 I have two welsh border collies who are always in the workshop with me. What also makes me smile is seeing someone using a Williams Handmade bag.