Jasmine Carey stitches leather together
Competition winnings have made it possible for talented Jasmine Carey to expand her Deptford leather design and manufacturing company
What sits at the heart of a Venn diagram featuring the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, social enterprise studio space provider Cockpit Arts in Deptford and the ninth largest technology company in the world?
The answer, it seems, is leather worker and designer Jasmine Carey.
Having won an award sponsored by the livery company to help fund a year of studio space at the south east London charity, 2018 delivered some more good news for the serial creative.
She said: “I entered a competition with Huawei (the world’s second largest manufacturer of smartphones) as part of its Make It Possible campaign.
“A couple of weeks ago I got a call saying I was the runner up for the prize and had won £5,000 to go towards my business and the things that I want to do.”
The Chinese firm had asked people to submit 500 words on how they would follow their dreams in 2018 in a bid to win part of a £30,000 fund.
The competition was set up in response to a study that suggested 57% of people saw financial barriers to pursuing their ambitions.
One of 800 entries, Jasmine’s was selected as one of three finalists to get some of the cash and a Huawei Mate 10 Pro device to help her establish leather craft business Deco 22.
“At the moment I am doing lots of different part-time jobs – I freelance as a pattern cutter and I teach, all while trying to do the stuff in my studio,” she said.
“This money means I have more time to spend in the studio without rushing around doing all these jobs and more money to put into the business to keep my shop afloat.
“I started my business quite a while ago. Originally it was a high-end womenswear range.
“I realised pretty early on I was going down the wrong road and tried readyto-wear stuff that I was selling at Greenwich Market.
“I realised that I had the wrong business model, took a break and did teacher training.
“I moved to Cockpit Arts in 2011, the same year I graduated as a teacher, then I started to re-evaluate what I was doing and to focus on higher-end products such as coats.
“I’d always made my own bags and it was at that point I started to delve into leather.
“It started to take over – I did lots of courses last year and the year before and then, in 2017 I won the Leathersellers Award. That meant I had an additional year with support to build up my business and do different courses.
“That gave me a chance to meet other people working in leather and to interact with them.”
Jasmine explained: “This latest award is going to help me to pursue my leather aspirations
“I want to set up a craft-based business based on my leather products such as bags and oyster card holders.
“I’m continuing to experiment and develop with more designs.”
Jasmine’s leather products start at £39, with prices reflecting the level of work needed to make them.
“The price depends on how I’ve made it – the kind of thread and finish you want and whether you want it lined,” she said.
“My bags start at about £350 for the hand-stitched ones. I plan to start doing machine stitched ones soon, which will be less as hand stitching a bag takes between 10 and 15 hours to make, sometimes even 20.
“It is hard graft but it is enjoyable. “I get my inspiration from lots of different places – my ethos and background is one of simple, clean lines which is similar to Art Deco.
“I am heavily influenced by that but my designs are inspired by everything around me.
“When I am designing things, I am very clear that they need to be quite simple and not overly decorative.
“It’s trying to think about designing things that are not just for one season but for many years to come. At the moment, people can buy my products by emailing me or going to the various shows I do.
“Part of the prize I have just won will go towards setting up a proper website.”
Wharfers can meet Jasmine and see her products at Cockpit Arts’ summer open studios event, which runs from June 15 to 17, alongside a host of other makers and craftspeople.
Jasmine hard at work in her Deptford studio
Hand-stitched bags are a labour of love