Tell us a little bit about what you make
We make bags and leather accessories inspired by cycling using waxed cotton/canvas and leather.
Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favourite thing about the space and how do you get into the mindset of making?
The studio is our front room which has granny net curtains and a fireplace. The room overlooks fields of cows and sheep. It also has a huge workbench which dominates it and where all the magic happens. What we love most about the space you ask? Well, that's simple. It’s having space! Previously our home/studio in London was so small, we could barely fit both of us in, we had to cut fabric on the floor etc. So the fact that we have a dedicated studio space that can accommodate all the equipment is simply awesome. This also helps with the headspace, once you’re in there you’re at ‘work’ even though this room is a few steps from the kitchen and cupboards full of treats. Once we’re there, we turn on the sewing machine, the lights and the music there’s no stopping us unless we get an exciting delivery or the sun is shining too bright and we must go out cycling.
What is your favourite tool and why?
This requires two answers. For Greta, the favorite has to be Pfaff, the sewing machine. I mean it’s like magic, once the flat pieces of fabric and leather meet Pfaff, they become 3D, they become a thing, an object, a design. For Zulfi it’s the metal ruler and the scalpel, it’s the hole punch, it’s the mallet and all the masculine things that come in the process of making a bag.
Can you describe the making process and inspiration behind your nip out bags?
The Nip Outs were inspired by the cycling bag ‘musette’ you’d see people using out and about on the weekends stuffing it with snacks etc. It’s the equivalent of a cotton tote bag but for cyclists. We loved the simple concept, but we wanted a cool, stylish one that would close properly and would adjust in height, so we just had to make one! The colours just sort of came to us, there is so little sun in UK & Ireland that once we saw the blue waxed cotton we just had to have it and create our own little sunshine you could carry with you. As for the making process.. Well, we start by cutting the fabric, leather, lining, and webbing. We then treat the leather edges, smoothing them over, then pairing them with the fabric using sam brownes, we move on to the lining, attach the metalwork onto the webbing and finally combine it all together! Voila! We have a little Instagram video in the ‘highlights’ if anyone is interested in seeing it rather than reading it.
What led you to choosing this craft as a profession? What do you love most about it? Dislike most?
So we came from two different backgrounds, Interiors/furniture (Greta) and Fashion (Zulfi). Vel-Oh slowly started to become a thing once we started to cycle to work on a daily basis and quickly realised none of our bags suited this new daily way of commuting. We wanted a bag that wouldn’t look out of place at work, yet was comfortable and could deal with any weather whilst we’re out on the bikes so one day we decided to just make one! 24hours of non-stop sewing we had a prototype and we were really impressed with ourselves (haha) so much so that this project which was only meant for ourselves started to look more of a business opportunity. We loved being creative and didn’t want to stop doing it! that’s definitely our biggest motivation, having an outlet for our creative minds. As much fun as all this sounds it came with so SO many challenges, of course, being a two people business we constantly battle suppliers who would only deal with big companies that were buying 1000000s of meters or materials, we were unable to find a manufacturer willing to work with us on small-scale etc. But we took all this with a pinch of salt and didn’t give up. We finally found a few awesome suppliers and Pfaff the sewing machine just sort of happen to come to our attention so we started making it all ourselves! I guess you could say that our biggest dislike is that we have to rely on others in providing the material on time, and having it in stock when we need it etc. But no job comes without its cons, right?
We stock a selection of Vel-Oh bags, including the classic Blackpack and super handy Nip-Out bags.