I’m Leanne, Lea to my friends and family, and I’m the creator and maker of all things LaLaLea. I live in beautiful Brisbane with my family, and work from my home-based studio in my spare time.
I love colour and patterns but I’m not someone who is confident to wear it from head-to-toe, all the time. I admire all of the women I see wearing the most amazing, colourful outfits and I wish I could be more brave, but I’m happy with my statement earrings and collection of colourful bags for now. It occurred to me that there might be other women who felt the same as me about wearing bold colours and patterns, and that’s how my colourful tote bag range began!
This small biz journey has been a challenging one - I’m learning something every day and doing things I never saw myself doing 12 months ago (like Instagram!!) I’m quite a shy person, so stepping out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there has been the biggest challenge for me. It still is but I’m getting there.
I’m so lucky to be doing what I love, and I’m incredibly grateful every single time someone purchases something I’ve made. It’s true - I actually do a little happy dance!
What is your business? When did you start your handmade journey and why?
My business is LaLaLea and it launched in September 2019. I work with colourful fabrics and washable paper to create tote bags and paper pots.
Washable paper has been around for ages, and I love working with a product that’s a little different. It has its challenges - once you’ve stitched that hole there’s no going back if you make a mistake! But the contrast of the leathery, wrinkled paper with the colours and patterns of the fabrics is really unique and I just love it.
I realise the term ‘washable paper’ sounds like a contradiction, but it truly is a unique product. It’s strong, durable, eco friendly, vegan friendly and it softens and wrinkles just like leather. And the fact you can wash it is fabulous!
One of the first bags I made was this gorgeous pink Monstera design. As you can see I've dabbled in flatlay photography and I'm pleased to say my skills have improved since this photo was taken!
What has been your favourite piece to make and why?
I love everything I make, to be honest, but I especially love my tote bags. I’ve spent hours perfecting the design and process, and I’m proud of the quality and workmanship I put into every single bag I make.
My favourite piece would have to be my Daffodil Days tote bag. It features a fabric design by Kasey Rainbow as a part of the Be You & Bloom Collection, a campaign created to help raise awareness and funds for organisations who support the victims of domestic violence.
It’s been a HUGE learning curve for me, and I’m so glad for the opportunity - I’ve connected with amazing women and makers, had my first professional photo shoot (now that’s something I never thought I’d be able to say), learnt A LOT and grown my little business!
Why are you so passionate about handmade? Why do you do, what you do?
We live in a society that is more aware of our impact on the environment than ever before. I make products that are reusable, sustainable, eco and vegan friendly, functional and fashionable and I’m so proud of that.
I love that handmade products are not mass produced. You are supporting a maker who is doing something for themselves, their family, community, environment and the consumer. More often than not you are buying pieces that are unique and limited edition.
When I shop at markets I am in awe of the creativity and variety of handmade products, and chatting to the makers and buying directly from them makes it such a personal experience. When I’m selling at markets one of the things I enjoy the most is chatting to people who are interested in what I do and creating a connection with the community.
This year I’ll be releasing more limited edition collections utilising fabrics designed by creative Australian textile designers.
I’m excited to be launching a range of paper pots in March featuring colourful fabric collars, and I’m also working on a couple of new product ideas that I don’t want to reveal just yet. Watch this space.