Love eXcellence Interviews Caoilionn Hurley

Caoilionn Hurley is the designer and founder of Hidee Handbags and Jewellery.

-  Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I grew up in Cork, Ireland in an environment full of creative ideas and inspiration and my family home was regularly redesigned, rebuilt and redecorated. My father is an engineer with a passion for innovation in design and construction, my mother has a passion for art and style. 

- Where did you study or are you self taught?

I studied at the London College of Fashion and in addition spent many hours studying leathers, patterns and handbag construction.
- How did you get your business started?

Over several months I created designs with a distinctive cantilevered construction, I visited handbag manufacturers, tanneries and other suppliers; commissioned sample handbags and built a list of suppliers I wanted to develop a Collection with. With my first Collection in hand I approached retailers, set up a website and started Hidee Handbags!

- What were the biggest challenges to succeed as a designer? 

Sourcing partners to bring the designs to life is the biggest challenge.  A start-up business is a risk for suppliers, it is to be expected that their attention is focused on established brands. Getting their time and commitment was the most difficult challenge.  Designers need to be relentless in the pursuit of the right suppliers for their brand. 

- Who most influenced your work?

I look to Dali, Miro among others for colour inspiration.  The construction techniques have been influenced by drawings of bridges and balconies; I use the expression art and architecture in a handbag, because it is!!

- Is your work collaborative or your single vision?

My vision and motivations come from my needs as a professional woman.  I have designed Collections that I need and cannot find, and from my observations of others who have a common unfulfilled need.

- Take us through the creation of one of your handbags and/or necklaces.

Whether it is a handbag or a piece of jewellery I start with the shape and structure of the piece. I think about where and how the bag or jewellery will be worn and the detail of zips, pockets and other elements are incorporated to reflect the needs of the owner. Whether it is a bag or a piece of jewellery I make up a prototype and then rework details to create a final sample. That sample is used to make the limited edition collection.

- What else influences you in your work?

I chat to people a lot about how they use handbags and jewellery and design Collections with those conversations in mind. I often hear the phrase ‘if only I could…..’ I enjoy those ideas and the challenge of trying to meet them.

- What great mentors have you had in your life? 

My family have been the biggest influence in my life. My parents, brother and sister, husband and two sons. In equal measure they inspire and challenge me and they are always there to help me.

- What aspect of your work gives you the most enjoyment?

Dreaming of new designs and adjusting the prototypes is most satisfying.

- Which of your products are you most proud of?

My products are like my children, I love them equally!!!

- Which one luxury can you not do without?

Champagne! I love the crisp, refreshing sensation and delicious flavours of a glass of champagne.

- What are you reading now and what great books would you recommend?

I am reading Fashion Designer; Concept to Collection, I enjoy studying style. My reading reflects my interests in art, fashion and communication.

- What actions do you take to keep a certain quality of life?  
I cycle regularly, exercise is fantastic to keep up a high level of energy.

- What are you working on now and what are your plans for the future?

I am working on a new Collection of handbags, and I will be bringing out the smallest possible shape for Heels in a Handbag; think Clutch for Heels.

- Could you list a few brands, people, works that you consider excellent? 

Apple, Christine Lagarde, War Horse the Play.

Click here to browse or buy these gorgeous Hidee handbags: Hidee Handbags