Location: Boston, Massachusettes
“Pronounced like ‘wren’, the bird!”
Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
I get inspiration from history, architecture, even text from a story or song. Sometimes I will spend months thinking about a single phrase I read and then all the sudden it dawns on me what to do with it.
Most things I make I also use. When I first started my business I couldn’t find any bags I liked, everything was covered in studs or hardware – I wanted something simple and sophisticated.
How did you get started in this field/ industry?
I graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2008. I studied painting, art history, and printmaking, but it wasn’t until I finished school that I learned about leather work. At the time, I was working at a shop that sold clothing and home goods. The shop carried many independent clothing lines: I was inspired to see people starting creative businesses and being successful with it. I thought in the back of my head – “Hey! I could do that!” So I started sewing in my free time. A few months later I quit my job and started my own website, and so far that has worked out great.
Tell us about your design process.
I’m bad at drawing, so I do most of the designing in my head. Then I make a sample to see if it could work. I never get it right the first time around, so I make revisions, sew another sample, and then a little while later I might have something that resembles a bag.
How has your design process changed since you started?
It’s changed a lot. I’m more organized now than I used to be. Something that comes to mind is supply research. In the beginning I was limited in what I could make because it revolved around locating the material. These days, I have a better idea where I can find leather, what store might carry the right fabric, and what kind of thread not to buy. This has made the process more efficient.
What is your favorite material to work with?
Linen! It’s so versatile. I can make bags, dresses, kitchen towels – you can make anything in linen. I would sell my soul for a lifetime supply of linen. I love how crisp it is when you get it on the bolt, and then how soft and wrinkled it gets after you wash it. It also makes the best bias tape.
How does your personal style influence your brand/ company/ products, etc?
Quite a bit! My style has gone through a few phases. I used to be obsessed with bright colors and wore then all at the same time; clashing was my specialty. I still love bright colors, but I’ve decided to wear them sparingly; instead I might carry a red pouch in my bag. These days I’m drawn to neutral colors – naturals, creams, blacks, tans, and always a little bit of navy for good measure. I like pieces that are understated and simple, but might have one striking or unusual detail about them.
Where do you imagine you’ll take the company next?
At some, I want to make Rennes a less retail-based experience, and instead a more interactive one. I would love to incorporate teaching into my work. Whether that would mean teaching classes somewhere or starting a facility that could be a modern-day guild I’m not sure – I tend to dream big!
Who would be a dream collaborator?
I would love to work in a design house like Maison Martin Margiela. Maybe I’d even get to wear a lab coat!
What colors/ patterns are you drawn to right now?
Stripes – I think it shows, too! Besides that, I’ve love the organic-shaped dots that my friend Caitlin has been painting recently. She runs the shop metrode. Recently we did a small collaboration where she painted black dots on white leather, and then I sewed the leather into a few simple bags and pouches.
What’s one tip you would give to people getting into this business?
Spend less time online. This might sound like an unusual suggestion, but the most important thing is to be true to yourself and your vision. It becomes hard to not be aware what current trends are, and sooner than you know it the shirt you just spent days drafting is now in the new arrivals section in your favorite store. Trends aren’t bad, it’s just important to make something your own and be proud of it!
Who do you see as an innovator (or “Who do you look up to”) in this field/ industry?
Other makers and craftspeople. I respect people who love what they do and their work is an extension of themselves. It feels so true and authentic.