Interview: John Lowin Bags
John Lowin is a modern British company. They celebrate craftsmanship, producing fine leather bags with unique styling and features. I was lucky enough to interview the company about their products and shop.
Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
I’m good thank you.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
My partners and I decided to set up the company, John Lowin bags. We all have a passion for quality workmanship, artisan products made in the UK and a love for music, especially in the traditional Vinyl format.
I adore your business. What made you decide to set up John Lowin?
We believed there was a gap in the market place for a practical, well made range of bags that had a unique selling point. After nearly two years of design and sample manufacturing we finally produced a product that we could be proud of and combined our passions.
We believe our range of bags will appeal to a wide group of like minded customers. What we have designed and manufactured is a range of quality leather and canvas bags that have a unique clear panel built into them that enables you to safely display your favourite vinyl album sleeve or artwork. Any album sleeve can quickly be interchanged so that effectively you can create your own bespoke bag to suit your mood for the day.
What does your shop sell?
There are several bag designs including a large tote, a backpack and an all leather satchel each with the unique ability to display an amazing album cover.
Sitting alongside side this range of bag designs we have extended the concept of customising your bag by introducing the " slogan bag ". This durable, high quality canvas bag made from a 20-ounce waterproof canvas has the unique selling point of allowing you to attach your own slogan of the day by using the four poppers on the front. Our current most popular slogan is " Quality takes time" but there is no end to the range of slogans that can be created.
The final product now available on the website is the JohnLowin Revival bags, these are individual historical leather bags, some dating back to the 1920's that have been fully restored and repurposed for use in today's modern world. Everything, from Gladstone bags, heavy duty leather workman's bags even militarily leather bags all with that beautiful patina that only use and age can create. Each bag, completely unique in its own way.
Why did you call your shop John Lowin?
We chose to use my own name as the company name because we are proud of our products and felt confident enough not to have to create a meaningless brand name to hide behind.
How has your creative process changed since the start?
My partners and I all have retail and technology backgrounds together with a passion for creative design and a real appreciation for the skills of local artisans and craftsmanship.
How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?
I personally, have been on a number of leather hand sewing and leather restoration courses and have been making and restoring leather goods for a number of years.
Have you always been into design and fashion?
We have all been heavily involved in different types of design and fashion. My wife and I have owned a vintage shop in Bath called Vintage to Vogue for twelve years selling vintage clothing and accessories to locals, tourists and world of film and TV.
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
As we intend to sell primarily, online, the areas of Social Media we have focused on so far have been creating a really good website and promoting our products via Instagram. It is early days in our marketing campaign but we have already established a solid foundation of followers.
Do you have any favourite pieces from your shop that you adore at the moment?
The bag that customers are currently finding the most popular at the moment is our large unisex canvas and leather tote which enables you to display your favourite album cover or artwork - most popular album cover displayed in a bag on the website has been David Bowie.
What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?
Without doubt, one of our hardest struggles in producing our own bag range was to find a UK manufacturer that was approachable, willing to offer advice and guidance and (as we are very much still a start up business with limited capital funding) were prepared to manufacture in small batches. It was also important to us, that as well as being able to manufacture to a high quality, any supplier also needed to uphold our own views of offering fair and ethical working conditions for their employees.
We are now delighted to have found a such a company. A small manufacturing company based in the heart of Somerset, perfect for our requirements and who we work closely with. They have provided us with invaluable advice and guidance throughout the design and production process.
Do you have any exciting plans for this year?
Our aspirations for the next year are to continue to grow our customer base through Instagram and Social media and to drive more customer traffic to our website where hopefully customers will find a bag to meet their requirements. We are already in the process of designing new bags to add to our range and are in exciting talks with two high profile individuals who have expressed an interest in being brand ambassadors for us.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own shop?
It has, as they say, been a difficult but enjoyable journey to date. We would advise anybody starting up in a similar business that working with excellent suppliers that share your vision and passion is incredibly important, so although it can at times be frustrating finding the right people, it's definitely worth holding out until you do.