Introducing: BLoC Handmade

Introducing: BLoC Handmade

This month I want to introduce you to Karen and her amazing eco-sustainable business BL0C Handmade

Karen’s journey began almost by accident when she made herself a denim jacket using old jeans. From there the seed for her business began to grow and today she makes beautifully crafted eco-sustainable handbags from charity shop treasures. Her handbags are all one of a kind owing to the nature of her materials. And she often makes custom and bespoke handbags.

You can see some of Karen’s most recent handbags by visiting her website:

Q: Karen, What have I missed?  

A:  No, I think that’s everything summed up pretty nicely!

Q: What would say are some of the values that drive your business and why are they important to you? 

Mustard Fringe Bag
Mustard Fringe Bag made from an old leather jacket

A:  Reduce reuse recycle! I think it’s more important than ever to try and be kinder to the planet, but I also totally understand that this can be difficult for some people. I want to try and show that we can all make small changes – for example, like making your next handbag a sustainable one! No one has to go all out and swap all the things for eco-friendly options – obviously that would be amazing but I realise it’s also the dream! But, if we all made small changes here and there it would make a huge difference.  Also, think it’s really important to think about the things we throw away – do they need to go to landfill? Can they be reused? If it’s clothes that you no longer want but still have life in them, why not think about selling them or donating them to a charity shop? Or, you could have a go at sewing and transforming them yourself – sewing machines really aren’t that scary, honest!

Q: What do you do to get into your creative zone?

A: The first thing I do is always visit my supply stash. When I pick up items from charity shops I have no idea what they will be turned into, I just know that they have a second life as a bag of some description. So probably once a month I’ll spend a couple of hours going through everything – jackets, denims, items I’ve collected to be used as linings – and just messing around with them really, looking at designs and seeing what would work. I like to reuse as many original items as possible, so the more pockets, zips and buttons I can get into a bag the better. Every now and then I’ll do some internet research too – often I will see styles I hadn’t considered making before, so will add them to my “keep in mind for future jackets” list.

Q:  How do you balance working full time and running BLoC Handmade?

A:  It can be a bit tricky sometimes! My day job can get a bit crazy at times and I’ll end up working longer which means less time for me to spend on BLoC in the evenings. I try to get ahead with as much as I possibly can – I aim to have at least a week’s worth of social media scheduled, so I don’t need to worry if I can’t get round to post one day, the social side will just keep running in the background. I’m trying to take this approach with my making too. I aim to get 2-3 new bags onto the website every month and try to at least get the prep done the month before, so I’ve got something in the bag (sorry, terrible joke but I couldn’t resist!). I also make sure I take time off from BLoC too  – I’ll have days where I don’t really look at social media, and I don’t spend any time in the workroom on Saturday or Sunday evenings. As much as I love working on the bags, I think it’s important to have that time to totally switch off and do other things.

Q: What is the most important thing that you’ve learned from running your business?

A:  I’ve learned a lot in a short space of time! I think the main thing I’ve learned that has helped me the most is planning. At the start of BLoC I didn’t really have a plan as to what would be made when, when I would post on social media, which markets I would get involved in – I had a bit of a scattergun approach! Now I have a clear plan each month and know what my deadlines are, so I’m much more consistent. Plus if I have a plan I can pick out what I can do on a certain day depending on what time I have free ­– that way I can cross the quick wins off my list, I love doing that!

Q: What plans do you have for BLoC Handmade in 2021?

Black Recycled Leather

A:  Last year I managed to support various charities and I want to do more of that this year – the next fundraising bags are in progress at the moment and I can’t wait to be able to share those. I also donate to charity every time someone adds anything I can use to my supply stash – I don’t like the charity shops to miss out just because I haven’t stocked up there!

Getting to know you!

  1. Cook at home or take-away? Cook at home – I do love an Indian takeaway though!
  2. Favourite way to relax? Knitting or crochet, films and I try to read at least half an hour before bed every night to try and switch off from the day.
  3. Guilty pleasure? Bargain Hunt!
  4. Personal hero(s) and why? Oh gosh, there are so many! I really admire Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) – I think the journey from where he started out to where he is now is amazing and really inspiring – just shows you what you can achieve if you believe in yourself and stick with it!

Thanks Karen!! Lovely to spend a little time with you.

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