Local Artist Creates Handmade Bags
Jen Kindbom, by day an English high school teacher and by night, a one woman bag-making expert. Kindbom learned the many wonders of sewing in middle school and has not taken a break since then. She made her long time passion into a beloved occupation and encourages others to do the same.
What got you started with Seats of My Pants?
I have always been interested in making things and doing art, and when my first child was born and I temporarily left my teaching job, I suddenly had all of this time and creative energy that I was not spending on school work. Sewing was a hobby I took up while my baby slept, and it started in blanket making. One day, I was making a pieced comforter, made a rather large mistake and ended up with a messenger bag. I knew I was onto something then.
Any advice for those interested in starting a business?
One strategy that has been helpful for my business is focusing on just a few designs. Yes, I can make any kind of bag and many kinds of accessories, but if I focus my energy on a handful of the most successful designs–which for SOMP, have included my wristlets and key fobs–I can more effectively define my brand. It is important for your brand to be recognizable, and for me that means unifying the look of my bags from fabric selection to the actual design of the items. When you do branch out, branch out in a way that makes sense to your brand. If you make amazing leather shoes, for example, don’t try to sell handmade marshmallows under the same brand. It muddies the water.
Is there anything you wish that you could tell people about SOMP?
Making bags has been a joy in my life. I love talking to customers who come back again and again, and I love discovering new fabrics. I feel like a superhero when I figure out a tricky new design. I get so excited about finding new hardware, such as my snaps and swivel hooks. My family is so supportive and helpful, especially around showtimes. Currently, I have some items for sale at Local Roots, and I often have set up shop at the Summer Market in Avon Lake, which takes place during the last weekend of July. On Small Business Saturday (November 26), I’ll be set up at Deborah’s Garden Market with a few other vendors.