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Designer Talks: New 2018 Handbag Style, The Blair Edition

The Blair Story

Meet Blair,  a beautiful and stylish lifestyle tote! I just love her honey hue with striking jet-black handles and sides. 

This specialty tote was created entirely by hand using my signature artisan technique. Rounded leather handles with a 3.5" drop for you to love on in your hand or comfortably carry on your arm.

Materials: Vegetable Tan + Pebble Leather

Vegetable tan leather is exactly what I had in mind when I designed this bag. The veg-tan leather's ability to hold it's shape is what really brought this handbag to life for me. I had a vision of wanting to mix textures, so I placed some jet-black, buttery soft, pebble leather on the sides as a major contrast to the smooth veg-tan, which also made a beautiful color palette. With the soft leather on the sides it allows you the versatility to wear it two different ways. You can allow the sides to fall out to the side naturally giving it a trapezoid silhouette or tuck them in for a cube effect...however you feel that day. 

Background:

The artisan hand stitch that you see on "Blair" was Inspired by my early design days when I first started working with leather. At the time, I didn't own a industrial sewing machine that could handle the weight of leather, so I decided to hand stitch my ideas. To this day, 10 years later, I still have some of those sample bags and people just love them! I think its something about the art of hand stitch, being handmade provides a connection with you and the designer.

 

 

The Design Process:

When it comes to a new Idea, It usually stems from a feeling of me wanting to be free and only do the things that bring me joy...that living off the land and wearing a long flowing dress that floats on the floor feeling (Lol). Then, I start thinking how can I design something and let the materials speak for themselves, show its natural beauty and flaws. You know, kind of how we all want to be loved through our flaws and all (Beyonce!).

After all of my feels, I sketch in my design notebook and do a lot of daydreaming because I have to see every step in my mind before I move forward. This is what some would say, I'm speaking to or seeking my genius or Holy Spirit to guide me in the process. Once I have a clear vision, I write down the process in my notebook...literally numbering the steps to completion. Then, I proceed to pattern making, which takes hours, sometimes day depending on the design. I'll do a mock up in a not so expensive material to get the look and feel of the bag. Send pictures back and forth to my mom who lives in my hometown Houston, TX. She is like my design consultant...and life consultant! I walk around the house a few days and look at the prototype in every mirror to see if I like it, standing on my tip toes (imaginary high heels) to see If it works. This is my process!

Production Process:

Once I feel the design concept and can see myself doing life with the bag, thats when I know you will love it too! There is nothing but love in the process of making this bag. From sourcing the materials to hand cutting each piece of leather and making sure the edges are beautiful...but still natural, because leather has its own beautiful story.

I then proceed to strategically punch the holes spacing them out so that you can see and love on the artisan stitch going in and out with your very own eyes. 

Final Finishing Process:

Now that leather is cut out and the holes are punched, I sew on the gold-foiled stamped "SIWEL" logo on the front of the bag using a sewing machine. Finally, I sit down, starting with the handles and moving to the body of the handbag using a beautiful waxed thread, I stitch in one tiny hole and out the other. Its a magical journey and to see it come to life one stitch at a time, it always gives me goosebumps! 

From start to finish this project can take anywhere from one to two days.

When you gift yourself, or any of your loved ones with one of my Blair totes, just know that I put my whole heart into it, because it took me hours to make, no doubt about it, and thats passion at its finest...so good!

With So Much LOVE,

Treasure MaDonna

SIWEL Press: i10 Media Magazine
SIWEL Handbags by Treasure MaDonna Press - i10 Media - April 2013.jpg
SIWEL Handbags Treasure MaDonna Press i10 Media.jpg

Houston, my hometown is very supportive and featured my Treasure MaDonna (prior to the name change SIWEL) handbags in several magazines and newspapers including Modern Luxury, 002 Houston, Jones Magazine, Houston Chronicle and Rolling Out. Being able to carry my collections in cute boutiques around Houston in the Museum District, Houston Galleria and trendy Rice Village was surreal at times. I'm still grateful today.

This tear sheet from i10 Media Magazine with Mia Wright on the cover features my collection of leather jewelry and handbags. Jewelry was a byproduct of my handbags because I had so many leather remnants left over and didn't want to throw them away. My Mom was very instrumental in teaching how to make jewelry. Since she is a Jewelry Designer, I would always ask her how to do different techniques that were in my head because I didn't know how to bring them to life. We sourced jewelry findings and hardware from Houston, Los Angeles and New york. That was a cool era in my design career because I worked very closely with my Mom!

Thank you Reginald Rhodes for this i10 Media feature.

~ Treasure MaDonna
SIWEL Press: Jones Magazine
 photo TreasureMaDonnaJonesMagazinePress_zps550008d7.jpg
SIWEL Handbags by Treasure MaDonna Jones Magazine Press.JPG

Houston, my hometown is very supportive and featured my Treasure MaDonna (prior to the name change SIWEL) handbags in several magazines and newspapers including Modern Luxury002 HoustonJones MagazineHouston Chronicle and Rolling Out. Being able to carry my collections in cute boutiques around Houston in the Museum District, Houston Galleria and trendy Rice Village was surreal at times. I'm still grateful today.

This tear sheet from Jones Magazine with Keri Hilson on the cover features a collection of lambskin clutches. They were beautiful, with brocade lining, designed them during the time I lived in an area called Koreatown in Los Angeles, CA. I love Jones, this was actually my second time being featured...thank you Tracey Ferguson!

~ Treasure MaDonna
SIWEL Press: Modern Luxury Houston
SIWEL Handbags by Designer Treasure Madonna Press Handbags Houston Modern Luxury Magazine loop-now-september-2006 press.jpg
SIWEL Handbags Treasure MaDonna Designer Houston Modern Luxury Magazine Press.JPG

Houston, my hometown is very supportive and featured my Treasure MaDonna (prior to the name change SIWEL) handbags in several magazines and newspapers including Modern Luxury002 HoustonJones MagazineHouston Chronicle and Rolling Out. Being able to carry my collections in cute boutiques around Houston in the Museum District, Houston Galleria and trendy Rice Village was surreal at times. I'm still grateful today.

This tear sheet from Modern Luxury Houston magazine features my first collection of leather handbags including carry-alls and clutches with silver hardware. At this time I was using my real name, Treasure MaDonna for my handbag line and decided to rename the brand years later to SIWEL. I really like working with leather during this time because it was the easiest material for me to to bring my vision to life. I still use leather today, but for my current collection of tote bags (shoppers) I'm really in love with bohemian, ethnic, colorful patterns and textured fabrics.

~ Treasure MaDonna