THEY’VE GOT BAGS OF STYLE

Cheshire Life: Novem­ber 2018 Ev­ery­one from princesses to su­per­mod­els and film stars are get­ting car­ried away by satchels made in Liver­pool, writes Mairead Ma­hon

Cheshire Life - - Society -

Are­cent poll de­clared that one in five par­ents re­gard three­year-old Princess Char­lotte as a style icon. That means ev­ery­thing she wears is snapped up by par­ents in what is called The Char­lotte Ef­fect.

It’s good news for a Liver­pool firm which made the Princess a pink leather satchel back­pack em­bossed with her name. It was pre­sented to her father dur­ing a trip to the city and Prince Wil­liam pre­dicted she wouldn’t be eas­ily parted from her new ac­ces­sory.

The Leather Satchel Co also made cus­tomised satchels for her broth­ers, Ge­orge and Louis, from a range named The Mini Wind­sor pro­duced by mas­ter crafts­man, Keith Han­shaw, who owns the busi­ness with his wife Gail.

‘Hon­estly, we named it long be­fore we gave them to the ac­tual mini Wind­sors – that was a happy co­in­ci­dence,’ says Gail, who has seen the firm’s satchels grace high end fash­ion shoots, fea­tured on the screen and car­ried by just about ev­ery­one from top model Alexa Chung to stu­dents at Eton Col­lege.

It’s all a far cry from the days when the firm’s founder Steve Han­shaw worked in the brick out­house of his Liver­pool home, mak­ing and re­pair­ing all things leather for the neigh­bour­hood. That was more than 50 years ago and there he might have stayed if he hadn’t had the brain­wave of buy­ing a camper­van and kit­ting it out as a mo­bile work­shop.

‘Un­cle Steve knew peo­ple liked to watch him work,’ says Keith. ‘So, in 1966 the big­gest crowds to be found in Eng­land were out­side Wem­b­ley wait­ing for the World Cup so that’s where he went and that’s where he scored his own win­ning goal! A head­mas­ter saw one of his satchels and asked him to make 200. Un­cle Steve was on his way, even if he had no idea how he was go­ing to ful­fil the or­der. Still, that’s what we call Liver­pool chutz­pah!’

Sev­eral vis­its to bank man­agers later and The Leather Satchel Co was born. The head­mas­ter got his satchels and the busi­ness boomed with Un­cle Steve even­tu­ally be­ing asked to join the Bri­tish Guild of Mas­ter Crafts­men.

‘We’re a fam­ily firm and I think we can lay a pretty strong claim to be­ing the old­est sur­viv­ing satchel mak­ing com­pany in the UK,’ says Keith who be­gan help­ing in the firm when he was 14 as chief tea boy and sweeper up. He worked his way up to be­com­ing a mas­ter crafts­man him­self.

To­day, ev­ery satchel is hand made in the com­pany’s work­shop in Knowsley by a small highly trained team, us­ing many of Un­cle Steve’s orig­i­nal tools.

‘We’re all about her­itage, all about keep­ing these pre­cious leather­work­ing skills alive. I truly be­lieve that if a Tu­dor leather­worker walked into our work­shop to­day, he’d recog­nise some of the tools and tech­niques and be able to fit in im­me­di­ately – although he might not take too kindly to the ra­dio that is al­ways on. They don’t play many madri­gals,’ laughs Keith, who al­ways sources eth­i­cal leather – Bri­tish where pos­si­ble.

The com­pany’s store is on Liver­pool’s Al­bert Dock and there are plans to in­stall a small work­shop there so peo­ple can see these tra­di­tional skills in ac­tion.

‘Peo­ple are still fas­ci­nated by them and we’re de­ter­mined to keep them alive. That’s why we have an ap­pren­tice­ship scheme,’ says Keith who, hav­ing seen the re­ces­sion bite in the 1980s, now strug­gles to keep up with de­mand as or­ders flood in from all over the world.

‘We don’t churn out hun­dreds a day. We have a stock of ready­made items in our shop and they can also be pur­chased on­line but we also of­fer a be­spoke ser­vice and, of course, mono­gram­ming is al­ways pop­u­lar. We’re ac­tu­ally work­ing on a de­sign tool that will al­low cus­tomers to de­sign their own bag on line.’ As well as bags they also pro­duce smaller items such as key fobs and ipad cases. Sad­dle­bags and, per­haps more sur­pris­ingly, sporrans are also avail­able. So, how did the satchels end up in glossy fash­ion shoots and on the arms of equally glossy fash­ion­istas like Alexa Chung? ‘Sim­ply by word of mouth,’ says Keith. ‘It has just snow­balled. We have over 40 dif­fer­ent colours and we add a new colour each sea­son. I think ev­ery­one ap­pre­ci­ates Bri­tish qual­ity and the retro look is bang on trend right now.’

Prop com­pa­nies also use the satchels and while they aren’t al­ways told in which pro­duc­tion they’ll be used, they did ap­pear in the Net­flix hit ‘Le­mony Snicket’s A Series of Un­for­tu­nate Events’ and they have a sneak­ing sus­pi­cion they were in the Harry Pot­ter films. Keith is pretty sure he spot­ted his com­pany’s unique tear-drop shaped buckle strap from the very end of Plat­form Nine and Three Quar­ters.

‘A head­mas­ter saw one of his satchels and asked him to make 200. Un­cle Steve was on his way, even if he had no idea how he was go­ing to ful­fil the or­der. Still, that’s what we call Liver­pool chutz­pah!’

re­fur­bished pi­anos out­side Lon­don and boasts the largest se­lec­tion of Yamaha acous­tic and dig­i­tal pi­anos you are likely to see any where in the UK. They can even teach you how to play in their Mu­sic School!

The staff wi l l give you un­par­al­leled ser­vice and ex­plain the ranges with ex­cel­lent knowl­edge and con­sid­er­a­tion.

Area Man­ager Paul ex­plains: “It is our aim to give you the best cus­tomer ser­vice and pur­chas­ing ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. All our staff re­ceive reg­u­lar train­ing on cus­tomer care and prod­uct knowl­edge to en­sure this is achieved.”

Rim­mers Mu­sic Bolton is a ” Yamaha Pre­mium Pi­ano Dealer”, one of very few in Europe! This means Yamaha recog­nise the com­pany for ex­cel­lent cus­tomer care and pi­ano se­lec­tion. All the acous­tic pi­anos are tuned and set up by highly trained tech­ni­cians.

Paul ex­plains “We have dig­i­tal and acous­tic pi­anos from £ 300 to £120,000. With the vast dis­play we have we can cater for all ages, abil­i­ties and bud­gets. We also of­fer 0% in­ter­est free credit on all pur­chases of £ 250 or over and have lease pur­chase op­tions. We aim to make the pi­ano you want af­ford­able and easy to pur­chase.”

The show­room is spread over two huge f loors with the gui­tars and am­pli­fiers on the first f loor. There is free am­ple park­ing and their Mu­sic School can be found on site.

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