Dusky Robin Leather turns 1! We couldn’t be happier for the team and are so exciting they are sharing their success with Life Instyle. Today we chat with Lara – the brains behind Dusky Robin – to find out more about what new products they are bringing to their first birthday celebrations at Life Instyle MELBOURNE.
Like so many successful small businesses, Dusky Robin Leather was created after noticing a gap in the market for simple, elegant and functional accessories.
Anyone who has attended a wedding, work dinner or formal affair will have experienced the frustration of being unable to find a clutch or purse that compliments their outfit, but is also made from quality materials that will endure long after the event.
I wanted to design beautiful handcrafted leather goods that were seriously reliable, but fun and bold. Launching a new business also came out of a desire from my husband and I to achieve a better work life balance after welcoming our third child into the world.
While anyone who runs a small business will tell you, you will never work harder in your life, but the hours are flexible and the rewards are immense, both professionally and personal.
I was lucky to have been raised by parents who ran their own small business for over thirty years, called Henk Berg Leather for which I worked for many years and eventually took over the reins when my father retired, so even though I was embarking on a new venture, I could draw upon extensive knowledge and experience in the leather industry.
This year builds on our successful launch last year and I will be introducing new and exciting styles while also refining existing designs and experimenting with colours and textures I love, and I hope our customers will too. I love to play with new colours or designs and this year is no exception. For instance, our Lucie purse is slim, functional design but it also experiments with textures, soft real vegetable tanned leather juxtaposed with long faux fur.
This year there are a few exciting offerings in the new range, including an expansion of our colour palette to include orchid pink, dusky pink, cornflower blue and pine green.
I will also be showcasing the very first Dusky Robin backpacks. Made from supple leather, these elegant and practical designs are sure to wow visitors to our stand.
Our Jean purse is my favourite product and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. It’s small, sleek and super smart (just like our sister-in-law who it was named after!). I designed it to allow people to carry nothing but the bare essentials, which for most of us means a few cards and, of course, our mobile phone. In recent years I have noticed a trend towards actually treating your mobile phone as a wallet. Many of us are living virtually a cashless existence with the ability to swipe your card for even the smallest purchases and there are even apps now that you can scan your loyalty cards with so you don’t have to cart them around.
Wallets that are inches thick with 30 card slots can seem a little excessive, particularly if you have to carry one, as well as your mobile phone.
I flipped the wallet design process on its head and instead of designing it around fitting every card under the sun and wads of cash, I started with the premise that it had to fit the phone.
Then I made sure it could also accommodate a few essential cards and a note or two and a sprinkling of coins.
All Dusky Robin bags and accessories are designed to endure; they are classic investment pieces, not based around seasonal trends. I believe the environment that we live in, a small island that separates us from mainland Australia, also gives us a point of difference compared with other brands. Tasmania has a reputation for being a haven for creative and entrepreneurial individuals. In many ways, design occurs in isolation from the big cities and fast pace of life. The design process can take up to two years, and often without the influence of trends. Our range also reflects our design philosophy, creating quality leather goods that are practical but never boorish, colourful but never garish, and dynamic, but enduring.
The entire range is designed in our island home of Tasmania, and despite being a ‘new’ brand we have the benefit of being able to draw on more than three decades of experience in leather design from our parent brand Henk Berg Leather.
Our accessories are all handmade by craftspeople globally in countries including Indonesia and India. In some cases Dusky Robin and Henk Berg Leather have worked side by side with the same family for over 30 years to produce our products. Each hide is selected for it’s quality and durability, before being cut, dyed, stitched and assembled by our artisans.
I’m proud of running a small family business with my husband and the close relationships we have with our makers mean we can provide a sustainable, fair trade principles to our products.
Our stockists say they love finding ‘hidden gems’ like Dusky Robin at Life Instyle. They want to find products with a point of difference that stand out in a cluttered marketplace.
The feedback I got from new stockists after the brand’s debut last year was that the products had enduring appeal. Unlike many accessories that have a limited shelf life because of the ebbs and flows of seasonal trends in the fashion industry, Dusky Robin designs are classic, quality and always complimentary.