I am a wife and mama of two (soon to be three!) little ones. I was born and raised here in the Arizona desert and while I hated it for many years (and most summers to be honest, ha!) I am growing to love it more and am excited about all the new, locally-owned boutiques and restaurants and other culture that has popped up within the last decade.
What did you do before starting your own business?
God gave me the gift of creativity, and it’s been evident since I was a child. I have always been involved in something artistic or musical since day one and I’m happiest when making beautiful things for others to enjoy. For years I had trouble figuring out what path to go down or what skill to hone in on and perfect, so I dabbled a little in everything. I changed majors several times in college because I couldn’t figure out what direction to go in. After getting married and having my kids, I needed something creative on the side to throw myself into, so I began experimenting with leather on my industrial sewing machine. I made a few bags for myself and some friends, but the opportunity to turn it into a business really arose when one of my friends opened a boutique. Her boutique featured local makers and she asked me to sell in her store. I decided to jump all in having no idea what I was doing, and it has evolved from there.
Why did you choose to start making leather goods?
I really love the beauty and durability of leather. Each hide tells a story and gives a unique product to its owner. Leather can look both rustic or refined, depending on how you use it. It is a tricky material to work with, but I enjoy the challenge that it brings.
What is your favorite part about making leather goods and do you find anything particularly challenging?
Leather is a difficult medium to work with because it is costly and unforgiving. Unlike fabric, seams can rarely be re-sewn because the needle holes are permanent. I’ve learned to move slowly and think things through several times before cutting and sewing - something that doesn’t come naturally for me.
What is the meaning behind your brand name, BÄRA?
BÄRA is the Swedish word for “to carry”. Most of my ancestors came from Sweden and so my Swedish heritage was a part of my life growing up, influencing our holidays and traditions. When choosing a name for my business, I knew I wanted it to reflect a part of me in some way, and I like the way the word, BÄRA, sounds.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
My inspiration in a lot of ways comes from the people around me – people that I admire who have effortless style and are comfortable with who they are. There are several Instagram accounts that I find inspiring as well that I am constantly drawn to.
As far as running a business goes, I'm inspired by other slow fashion brands whose priorities are sourcing materials ethically and making high quality products that last for years (vs. inexpensive, but cheaply made items). These brands are passionate about supporting their makers and treating their employees well. Sourcing materials that are high quality and are ethically made are priorities I’m also passionate about, so it’s encouraging to watch these other brands and follow in their footsteps. How can you make something beautiful to enrich people’s lives when you’re exploiting other lives in the process?
What has surprised you the most about running a business?
How much there is to do besides just create! I spend so much time on the administrative side of things, on marketing and social media, on taking photos…owning a small business is so multi-faceted. I have to wear many hats.
With BÄRA being your full time job, how do you balance creating and spending time with your two (soon to be three!) kiddos?
BÄRA is more of a side hustle for me, as my family takes first priority. My business is still very young, so I’m trying to figure out what balance looks like with being in the thick of raising two, soon three, under five. The hardest thing for me is being present 100% with my kids when I know I have a lot of business to-dos, so I’m working on setting boundaries to make sure that my family comes first. (So tricky!)
Find BÄRA on Instagram @shopbara.