I’m a little jealous of Adelle Stoll, the designer behind the gorgeous modern handmade bags and accessories you see below and in the IAMTHELAB Shop. Besides her immense talent at a maker, Adele lives in beautiful Sonoma County, California. Having lived there myself, I miss the lovely hills that characterizes that area and and the access to its famous wineries . Oh well, I guess I should shut up, since I live in Hawaii. Enjoy this new interview and take a look at Adelle’s collection today.
What inspired you to begin your collection?
In 2011 I opened a store in Healdsburg California that sold only modern craft made in the US. I was so inspired by the amazing designers and makers that I carried in my store. I soon realized that I wanted to put my own work out there and join them.
Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
My process starts with the materials then its about deciding the basic shape and quickly moves into problem solving the design. I am a big believer that its the creative road blocks and the process of getting past them that generates my best work.
How do you maintain your creative drive?
As a seasoned entrepreneur I am fueled by the creative process of the designs but also the artistry of running the business aspect. I believe its the ultimate challenge to run a successful creative business especially one that creates physical products. It’s that challenge to produce new work that people want to pay money to own that is so exciting.
What materials do you love to use?
I love to work with oil tanned leathers and German wool felt. I am a believer in letting the natural beauty and inherent qualities of the materials stand alone. Thats why I don’t paint the edges of leather or line my bags or use stiffeners. I choose heavier leathers and thick 5mm felt to create the structure that the bag needs to achieve the desired shape. I also hand fabricate my own hardware out of raw brass and bronze.
Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
The story behind the Un-Sewn Collection is that when I decided to become a maker and chose to make leather handbags I purchased an industrial sewing machine to create my designs. After fighting with my machine’s settings and getting so frustrated because I wasn’t loving the work I was creating. That frustration boiled over into a moment of anger and I literally screamed “I need a design that I don’t need this #$^*&! machine to create”. I then realized that I could create designs that don’t use a sewing machine, I could create functional shapes that go together more like origami.
After creating my first design I realized that there isn’t a shape I can’t create using this method. I realized that my strength lies in the patterning process and not in the sewing. This also helped me to create a signature style that is recognizable for its construction but also for the handcrafted square rod hardware.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
I’m enamored by designers who reinvent the process of their craft. Issey Miyake best illustrates this idea for me and is someone I would love to collaborate with. The idea that he had his garments sewn first then developed the pleating technique that made them structural yet comfortable and also incredibly in visually interesting.
Handcrafted for the Modern Minimalist Adelle Stoll combines her love of modern design with nimble hands to create original handbags and jewelry. Classic and bold architectural shapes are crafted from soft materials resulting in iconic pieces destined to become heirlooms. Each piece is designed and crafted with love by modern accessories designer Adelle Stoll in Sonoma County, California.
What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
The biggest challenge for me as a maker of handcrafted products is the physical demands of handcrafting. I have a degenerative spinal condition that has required multiple surgeries and pain management that limits the amount of time I can spend crafting my designs. A recent diagnosis has me unable to handcraft at all and is forcing me to find the right balance of machinery and ingenuity. Its actually been a great motivator to grow and expand my business and to work smarter.
How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
I have grown to love Instagram, I love the immediacy of it and the ability to find like minded creatives. When I have more time I would love to create a blog as I have many insights and impressions to share that would better connect me to my audience. Im also active on Facebook and thats a great way for friends to keep up with my work and latest projects.
Where do you see your shop/project going?
I have many big ideas in the pipeline, I see Adelle Stoll as a modern lifestyle brand based out of Northern California’s wine country where all products are ethically produced while providing opportunities to at risk teens and aged out foster kids. I am currently working on a flagship store and headquarters for Adelle Stoll where designers share space and sell without commissions in Healdsburg CA. A longer term goal is to create a natural textile from grape vine for a vegan collection of handbags.
What are you working on right now?
I’m about to launch a Kickstarter campaign to tool up and expand production. I have the good fortune of not being able to keep up with the demand for my products so its time to invest in machinery that will help me cut out my designs and scale my business while providing employment to at risk teens.