One of the things that draws me to the products I select for Object Union, apart from how ridiculously beautiful they are, is the story behind them. So, I wanted to start an artisan series on the journal to share some of those stories with you. It’s a complete no brainer to kick off the series with one of my favourite local brands Bahru Leather.
Bahru is a brand of beautiful accessories and homewares with a focus on functionality and style, made from the most amazing quality leather, and designed right here in WA. Bahru offers a range of timeless and practical bags for all occasions. From larger every day bags to smaller designs for a night on the town with every bag designed to be super stylish and practical, and let me tell you they last For. Ever. They also have a range of stunning cushions in the most beautiful colours you’ve ever seen which we are lucky enough to stock in our store.
Bahru is the brainchild of brand manager turned accessories designer slash business lady Fliss Brophy. I met Fliss a few years ago when she approached me to style a campaign for Bahru, and we instantly clicked. She is down to earth, talented, and honestly one of the nicest people you will ever meet. As for Bahru, the brand is a wonderful as the boss lady herself, and Fliss works tirelessly to nurture her brand, you’ll often find her at markets meeting her customers, or working with retail clients to bring the brand to new audiences. All while being wife and mother to three young babes, and renovating their family home. Talk about real life super hero.
Bahru started as what Fliss calls a ‘fun little project’ around 2007. She and her husband were living in Singapore at the time and Fliss was at home with her first child, having not returned to work after he was born. Noticing a gap in the market between high end designer bags, and cheap, mass produced options, she started playing around with her own designs. She had a few pieces made and tested the waters with some friends, who loved them so much they became paying customers and Fliss realised she was onto something. Little by little the ‘fun project’ turned into a fully-fledged business and Bahru was born.
For those curious minds out there, Bahru means ‘new’ in Malay a word Fliss noticed everywhere and fell in love with when she first moved to Singapore. It wasn’t until later she found out the meaning of the word, and lucky for her it totally suited her brand in both languages.
Fliss and her family are now happily settled back on the family farm where she grew up in the South west of WA. ‘My grandfather came here to farm in 1936 when he was 21 years old and my dad also grew up here. When I was younger we had beef cattle and a dairy, now it’s solely beef cattle and the farm is run in conjunction with my brother’s farm which is 3 hours north of Perth. This is a particularly favourite time of the year as all the calves are being born. This morning there were 18 - tomorrow who knows! It’s a beautiful place to bring up our kids and a great place to work from. Our offices are in the Old Stables - a beautiful limestone building built around 1850.’ I mean check out these photos of this amazing space. Total studio envy!
The aim with Bahru is always to create ‘beautifully practical’ pieces that look and feel amazing but are also really functional to make life that little bit easier. Fliss says, ‘I think most of the Bahru customers have a very busy life and have their hands full with kids, work and life so their everyday bag should help them when they’re on the go.’ And Fliss nails it every time every single element is carefully considered so the bags are as practical as possible for their intended use. Almost all of the straps are adjustable so you’re your bag can fit you just right, and there are inside zips for keeping your precious things safe. All of the larger bags have key clips so you’re not forever digging around the bottom for your keys, which is never fun when you have your arms full of grocery bags, and every Bahru bag has a light-coloured lining which allows you to find things in your bag.
All the leather used for Bahru pieces are chosen for their look, feel and colour. Often it takes a long time to find the right leather. Fliss searched for the perfect dark navy leather for THREE YEARS before she found the amazing, buttery, French Navy that is in her collection today. Each leather is hand selected by Fliss and can be quite different, some are smoother whilst others have more of a texture, it all depends on what Fliss sees for the brand. ‘We have a great supplier who really understands what we are looking for and we both really care about the quality.’
As for the bags being named after cities of the world, it’s just another element that adds to the endearing story of the brand and the talented lady behind it . ‘We’ve always been big travellers; my husband was an expat kid living in many different countries and I met him while backpacking in Turkey. We have lived in four different countries together and our three children were born overseas. Cities of the world seemed to be a good way to distinguish between the different styles.’ Indeed!