Poets have words. Musicians have music. Painters have canvas. For Carrie George, it’s leather.
“Can you think of a material that actually gains appeal over time? Leather does,” George explains.
George has been designing, hand-sewing and selling her line of clutches, totes and handbags through a virtual shop she runs from her downtown Rochester apartment for the past seven years. Though she earned a degree in humanities from Roberts Wesleyan College, her passion has always been design, even in high school when she made many of her own clothes. The 34-year-old Ithaca transplant says her work inspires her, in part, for its lasting impact.
“A well-constructed bag can be passed down to younger generations,” she says. “This is exciting to me. I want to make something that will last for people, and I feel confident selling my bags to the public because they will last.”
When creating a design she strives to stick to clean lines.
“The basic idea is that an object should never try too hard to say too much,” she explains. “A design should speak for itself in subtleties. The design is simple, but the materials are rich and luxurious. A sense of quality is not lost.”
Functionality is critical as well, which sometimes drives ideas for her new designs.
“Usually I think about what I want. I make a drawing and go from there. Other times, making a design is what friends ask for. One friend wanted a diaper bag. It became a diaper bag for her and a big tote bag for others.”
George is proud to say her line is created completely in Rochester, from design to distribution.
“I still enjoy the process of doing the design, cutting the pattern, which I make myself out of card stock. I always want to keep that in front of my eyes. I don’t think I would ever outsource. I want to keep control of the quality.”
For now, George is still building her business, its name and its integrity in the marketplace. She joined other local merchants taking part in Black Friday and Small Business Saturday—a movement to encourage shoppers to buy local and support independent retailers. She feels independent businesses play a vital role in building a strong economy.
“I’m putting in the hard work now and waiting for this to all fall into place.”