You know you are passionate about your craft when you happily drive 1200 km to take your goods to market. That is precise what bag designer Claire Chapman of Small World Dreams does at least twice a year. Based in Mackay in northern Queensland, her love of making was forged watching her grandmother make wrist bags from scraps of fabric in Zimbabwe. The skills she learned in her formative years have stuck with her and, more recently, have become a medicine of sorts – providing a cathartic release and invaluable positive headspace when times have been harsh.
Drawing on her upbringing, where most were made of limited resources, Claire highly values incorporating sustainable design principles throughout her bag range. She supports local textile artists who use natural and organic fabrics and solvent-free inks. She adds reclaimed hardware to her designs when available and manufactures to order from her own home studio space. In addition to selling beautifully crafted clutches, cross-body purses, and handbags, she also occasionally bundles up and sells her leather offcuts to other makers – her grandmother’s legacy of minimizing waste still runs true.
What inspired you to start a bag design business? My grandmother made bags out of scrap when I was a little girl. She was very creative and very thrifty. She was the seed for my idea. My children were nearly finished school, and I got laid off from work and suffered from depression. I started sewing bags to clear my head, and before I knew it, I attended markets, started an Etsy shop, then a website, and people liked what I was doing.