Sarah Haran: Paisley-based luxury handbag and accessories brand
Scotland’s luxury handbag and accessories designer, Sarah Haran, welcomes Mill Magazine into her Paisley HQ
Changing your career is never exactly the most seamless thing to do, often leaving people paralysed with fear that they could be making an irrevocable mistake.
Thankfully, in the case of Sarah Haran, the gamble to take her hobby and elevate it to the status of a self-led career has been one that she’s been rewarded for, particularly in terms of personal fulfilment.
At the centre of a town that is synonymous with textiles, visiting Sarah’s showroom in the Sir James Clark Building of Abbey Mill depicts exactly where all the hard work has gone.
Taken from a bedroom operation to a tangible space where guests come to peruse her stylish, immensely customisable bags while providing graduate jobs in an industry where they can be hard to come by in Scotland, Sarah remains thrilled at how it’s all panned out and wants to continue to spread the word.
“I don’t have a background in handbag making,” Sarah revealed. “I was actually working in IT but I always loved making things ever since my mother taught me to sew when I was 11 or 12. Initially, I would create my own dresses and things like that, but during my time in IT, I realised that I didn’t really have a hobby and that was when I started to make handbags.
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“I taught myself everything and did loads of courses, so I started selling them after we got a bit more traction. In the early days, I made every single one of our bags on my own.
“Eventually, I had to get manufacturing but now that we’ve got our lovely office in Paisley, I’m thinking that I might get a sewing machine again. The whole garage in my house used to be my workshop with some really heavy equipment.
“As we got busier and well known, the whole house became storage for the business (laughs). I remember one afternoon, my husband was walking to our utility room and fell over these boxes so it made me think, ‘right, time to get a place’.
“The fact that it had been creative in the past meant that the space was very us,” she said of choosing their showroom. “My husband’s great, great, grandfather was actually a tanner across the road from here and he was also the guy who’d jump into the Hamills [White Cart Water] and save people. He was given 60 gold sovereigns as a reward for all the people he saved, so that story made it feel fitting to come here.”
Looking to move from the “transactional” model of business, Sarah Haran “wanted to know” her customers and thus launched a thriving online community that has spread around the globe. Everybody is only a step away, really, it’s all about finding your people as they’re out there somewhere.”
The afternoon of our visit, Sarah was expecting customers up from London and Glasgow. In essence, making a full day of coming to Haran’s creations.
For Sarah, this is pivotal to the business and she hopes to continue to welcome customers far and wide in order to show them what it is that makes their bags so special and inherently versatile.
“Our product is very much a show-and-tell, the fact that you can change it is what makes it so different. Most of our customers will change their bags to suit their outfits, you could genuinely use one of these for the whole year and it looks different all the time,” Sarah detailed.
“From a sustainability perspective, that’s obviously a great thing too. On the face of it, people might think they’re pricey, but it pairs up well against demi-luxe brands. The whole idea is that it is a luxury product, but you will have a lifetime guarantee and we’re just keen that it’s as inclusive as we can make it.
“Also, you don’t have to buy it all at once and you can gradually build it into a larger bag. For our customers, it’s about the joy of having something special that you can have and keep using.”
Hot on the heels of their topically devised “Barbie” collection and with hopes of bringing a portion of production to the UK from Turkey in the future, Sarah remains eternally grateful that she took this step and has words of wisdom for anyone else who’s dreamed of embarking down a different road.
“You’ve got to try it and there are no doors closed, so you could go back to what you were doing,” she revealed. “I would encourage anyone to try and start their own business as if you don’t give it a go and you’ve got it in you, what’s the point of regretting it?”
For more from this Paisley-based brand, visit their website, 62 Sir James Clark Building, Paisley PA1 1TJ