There’s nothing conventional about Becky Cocker.
The 35-year-old former town planner lives on a canal boat and runs her business Carv from a studio in Hackney Wick, using age-old leather-working techniques to handmake exquisite, modern bags.
Every fortnight she and her partner chug off down the canal in search of another picturesque spot.
“Living on the edges of the city and having an alternative lifestyle gives me constant design inspiration”, said Becky. “I try to combine traditional methods with a modern, minimal look. My designs seek the best ways to showcase the leather and the beauty of the material without being really scruffy, simplicity seems to show off the leather well and I use a lot of asymmetric lines.”
Becky, who is expecting her first baby in February, grew up in Cheltenham and has had a lifelong love of making. Her mother taught her to sew and her hobby was making bags out of fabric. “Trying to sew through thick fabrics kept breaking my sewing machine”, she said. “I enjoyed the process but wanted to use a different material.
“I went on a half day leather making course with my mum and loved it so much I signed up to a three-week course in Gloucestershire with a brilliant lady called Valerie Michael. The rest is self-taught.
“All my bags are handmade – I carve the leather, pierce holes where the stitches will go and use a double-ended needle to stitch it. The bags have a really interesting character you don’t get with mass produced products and they last for a long time.”
The leather Becky uses mainly comes from the UK and is dipped into different vegetable-based solutions by traditional tanners. It can take up to a year to turn a skin into leather this way.
Apart from a one-tonne embossing press, Becky’s studio has only the basic tools needed for leather cutting and sewing by hand – and she works standing up.
Becky’s bags are sold via her website and at Broadway Market every Saturday. And she makes bespoke bags to order.
She added: “Getting a shop is really expensive and the market is a great way to get my products out there, it’s an amazing market with a great vibe.”
Members of the Local Buyers Club can save 10% on Carv bags and accesories.
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