Our talented new Head Of Design
A very warm welcome to Lorna!
Happy 2023!! I hope you are keeping well and that you had a nice break over the holidays.
We start off by extending a warm welcome to our new subscribers: Ben, Tom, K21, Matthew, Assem, Sophia, Eimear, Joy, Sarah, Ann, Yulia, K., Nicki and Melinda - thank you very much for joining us.
I'm writing to you whilst waiting to board my flight back to London. I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Saudi Arabia (in some ways MUCH less conservative than I was expecting! I'm considering writing a newsletter about my time there - let me know if you'd be interested) but was also struck down with Dengue Fever in Sri Lanka and ended up spending 5 days in hospital. Sneaky mosquitoes. I'm sad to leave - Sri Lanka is the most wonderful country - but at the same time I am excited to get back to London and get working on all the exciting things we have planned for 2023.
But that's enough about me. Today you finally get to meet Lorna! She's already been working on some fantastic new designs and we can't wait to reveal more soon.
Hi Lorna! Can you please introduce yourself?
Hi! I'm Lorna, I just started at LUXTRA as the Head of Design after over a decade working in the industry. I moved to Surrey from Brixton with my boyfriend Nick during Lockdown and like many others... we got a puppy. Her name is Pepper and those who know me will say I am obsessed with her (but who can blame me!). Another lockdown habit I picked up was the ukulele, which I'm proud to say I still play.
Pepper: just look at that happy face :)
Tell us more about your career to date.
I actually never wanted to do design, I wanted to work in marketing and be responsible for those Chanel perfume ads I would see in Vogue. However, I didn't get the grades I needed to do the marketing course so “settled” for design at University. This, as it turns out, was the best thing that could have happened. I absolutely loved it, I loved creating things and seeing the final result. My nana was a seamstress in her 20s so we grew closer as I told her about my sewing classes and the rest of my course, which was really special to me.
From here a friend of a friend was working at Burberry and managed to get me an interview. It was in accessories, but at the time I was much more a clothing specialist. But this was my dream company, and so I took the job and have been working on Accessories ever since!
I am most proud of the courageous step I took to go freelance. I needed the flexibility and to grow creatively. It was actually a freelance gig that first got me in touch with Jessica years ago!
What would surprise people about your work?
That it's not always glamorous! In fact, I once worked in an Internship where I had to work through the night hand sewing beads onto a dress, and had to sneak a couple of hours sleep in a fabric cupboard.
What is your biggest work passion?
A weak answer, but designing bags.
What does “sustainability” mean to you?
Sustainability is something that means more to me as I get older, as I keep learning more and becoming aware of the negative impacts we can have as a society. In my industry, I feel passionately about designing sustainable products, using regenerative, biodegradable or recycled materials or using the products as a platform to raise awareness. As for my personal journey, well it's safe to say I am not perfect, but I try and buy less and when I do, really consider my purchases and ensure they are something that I will cherish for a long time.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
Not living in London. We made the choice to move out, as London was too expensive to buy. I absolutely love Surrey but I find not being close to friends, near museums and galleries, and other sources of city inspiration, to be a challenge.
Lorna and Nick
What is the best part of your work?
It's got to be seeing the final product, whether it's a finished bag or even a mood board or a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) I have been working on. I always feel so proud, and tend to keep looking at it over and over again. I also am impressed that I have managed to get the idea out of my mind into physical form! (Sometimes the ideas can be really abstract!)
And the worst?
Not pleasing everyone. I tend to care a lot about what people think of me, and this also translates into my designs. Sometimes a design is a heavily researched piece of work and sometimes it is just an opinion or 'taste' , which can easily be criticised.
Biggest life lesson?
That you can't please everybody.
Which is your favourite (current) LUXTRA product?
The Zanele in Black! I love how chic it is, the handle is multi use and it has an edgy feel to it (also it's made of apples!). I am very lucky that I was a gifted one when joining LUXTRA, I think I have used it everyday since.
What are your top 3 things to see / do / eat in Surrey?
1. We love long hikes, our best places would be Box Hill, Leith Hill and Reigate Hill (Surrey is very hilly)
2. For drinks, our local pub is called The Hatch, it was recently taken over by a local brewery and you will find me, Nick and Pepper there most weeks!
3. An afternoon in Reigate, shopping at my favourite boutique Quattro Rish, Lunch at Lebnani and coffee and cake from Chalk Hills Bakery.
Pepper at Reigate Hill
Sending you all my very best wishes for a HEALTHY (#1 most important!), happy and prosperous year ahead in 2023.