Designing from a (social)distance - behind the scenes of the new collection

Posted by Charlotte Cameron on

This year has been strange for everyone, with all of us suddenly spending a lot more time indoors than ever before, and working out ways to manage working from home.

While things haven’t been ‘business as usual’ for me (with restrictions to manufacturing and local lockdowns impacting the usual new season development), I have managed to stay positive and find different ways to bring some colour and pattern to my SJW Bags customers, while helping to keep other small businesses afloat during this challenging time.For the first half of the pandemic, I focused on developing a new (and suddenly very necessary!) product range, by creating face masks with artisans here in the UK and abroad, as I spoke about in my previous blog post here.

Later, when the restrictions relaxed a little, my makers in Istanbul were able to go back to work, so we went digital and got creative together over Zoom and email, designing a small range of new styles. 
Once the travel quarantine was lifted I was lucky enough to be able to take a trip to Istanbul for a long awaited visit with family, and whilst there I finally got to see some of the new designs in person.

Enjoying turkish coffee and delights at

Bosphorus after checking samples.

Below is a sneak preview of one of the new designs mid construction. You can see the different leather shades I made a selection from that best complement the colourful new prints- next season promises to be very vibrant!

New styles in progress!
During my visit I was thrilled to discover the wife and daughter-in-law of one of my craftsmen have set up their own independent business during lockdown, making small embroidered items in a bid to keep busy while staying safe at home. 

I’ve enjoyed the loyalty and support from so many women in business since the start of SJW Bags, both with my pop-up community and my loyal customers, so I jumped at the chance to commission some bespoke festive sacks from them. I was so glad I could find a way to share the love and pay it forward by supporting their enterprise, and I hope you love these reusable linen bags as much as I do.

The small format these ladies work with for the embroidery is the perfect scale to create gift bags for my more petite pieces like the cardholders and mini wallets- the ideal size if you're posting most of your parcels this year.

The festive sacks getting their SJW logos stitched

With working from home and social distancing looking like it will be with us for a while longer, the festive season will be a bit different than usual, so I hope we can all find ways to reach out to our loved ones - from posting presents, online parties and outdoor activities whatever the weather (!).

Wherever you’ll be spending the festive season, and however you'll celebrating I wish you all a very Merry Festive period not too affected by the pandemic, as  'Tis the season to be Jolly' after all!

Stay safe and  keep smiling,

Love Alev x   


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