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Bag maker Emma Cornes: A Day in the Life

Leather, bike riding and inspiration

Fact file:

  • Name: Emma Cornes
  • Job: Bag maker
  • Born: Scottish Borders
  • Lives: Chester
  • Education: School in Earlston and I studied geography at Durham University
  • Family: Married to Pete (who is also her business partner) with a Glen of Imaal terrier named Dug

Every day is a bit different for me, but I can tell you what I get up to when I’m in the studio in Farndon, actually designing new bags.

This week I’ve been designing some smaller accessories which we plan to launch next year. Because I knew I’d be designing today I jumped out of bed this morning and was up and going by 7.30am. I often start a bit later, but I hate wasting these precious days.

The design process is a bit of a mix: half-and-half between looking for inspiration and trying out new ideas. The inspiration can come from anywhere: hunting out old pieces of luggage or researching traditional leather work, or simply taking my dog Dug for a walk around the local Cheshire lanes and mulling things over.

Andrew Gale
Bag maker Emma Cornes with husband Pete and dog called Dug

The other half is hands-on: I’ll get out my scissors and some tweed and leather and start putting together prototypes. I try to go through as many ideas as I can to refine every single detail. Part of the appeal for me is refining my ideas over time, especially when you compare a rough prototype to a finished product.

Bag maker Emma Cornes hard at work

Bag maker Emma Cornes hard at work

I work with my husband Pete, who’s great for bouncing ideas off. He spends most of his time working on the website and that sort of thing, but it’s great to have a second pair of eyes when you’re working on new things.

Normally we’ll sit down together at about 1pm for lunch: Pete’s a really adventurous cook! After a cup of coffee together we’ll take Dug the dog for a walk and drop off any online orders we’ve had at the local Post Office. I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off sending my bags to new homes.

After that I’ll head back to the studio for a bit. I don’t like working for long periods without interruption as you can feel your creativity decline, so today I’m going to finish up a bit early and go out for a bike ride. Riding my bike is a great way of getting a bit of fresh air and some exercise.

Laurence Crossman-Emms
Bag maker Emma Cornes out and about cycling

After that we’ll head home for dinner, and I might finish the day by taking a long hot bath, reading my book for a while or watching a movie with Pete.

Do you wear a uniform to do your job? Not really. Working for myself means there aren’t any rules, so I can spend my days wearing absolutely anything I want.

What is the favourite part of your job? I love the creativity: designing cloths and bags, coming up with ideas for new collections, and fun things we can do to spread the word about our business.

What is the least favourite part of your job? Sometimes things can all get a bit hectic. Since it’s only me and my husband in the business it can feel like we never have enough time, but normally it quietens off again after a while.

What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now? I’m doing it! I’ve tried loads of things – from mountain bike guiding and white water canoeing to customer research and environmental consultancy. None of them come close to running your own business, and I think I was destined to be a bag maker.

How do you relax when you are not working? My husband and I really enjoy cycling so in our spare time we’ll head out for a ride.

What is your favourite film? I really enjoy Scandinavian mysteries, especially crime fiction like the Wallander movies starring Rolf Lassgård.

What is your favourite book? I love anything written by Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell: I’m sure you can sense a pattern here!

What is your favourite song? At the moment I’m really enjoying alt-J’s This Is All Yours.

If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Kate Winslet as she’s been so outspoken about women accepting their own appearance with pride.

Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet? Yes! I had my 15 seconds of fame when I took part in a competition to broadcast my own advert on national television for over a week. This competition was run by iZettle, a mobile payments company.

My advert was shown on channels like Sky News, Sky Sports, Comedy Central and more. I would never have had this kind of exposure without iZettle, and it meant a huge increase in traffic to our website. We had so many orders that for a few weeks we ran out of stock and had to start taking pre-orders for my new collection! Luckily I’ve just had loads more bags delivered, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it continues.

Visit www.chesterchronicle.co.uk to see Emma’s winning advert.

We want to hear from people from all walks of life – to take part, email jo.henwood@trinitymirror.com or fill out the form below



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