Friends who follow us regularly will know that posts from me have been few and far between recently. 2017 was a trying year. We didn’t think our relocation to the UK was going to be easy but it turned out to be much harder than we expected and we had quite a lot of unexpected bad luck – not least all of our stock going missing for 8 weeks in the crucial spring period. We are so grateful for the many supporters in UK and HK who continued to champion the brand.
All this quiet though has given Lauren and me much needed time to think about the direction we want to take our little company. There have always been lots of ideas which we have juggled to fit into our story and this seems like a good time to rationalise, focus and come back with a strong idea of who Louella is.
With our roots in Hong Kong and our toes firmly in the sea I think our outlook will always be international and islands and oceans focused. As such it has bothered me greatly that we might be contributing towards environmental pollution ourselves. The amount of plastic packaging that is used to ship handbags from the factory to our warehouse is frightening. I am also perplexed and confused by the leather/pleather arguments – faux leather might be vegan friendly but when you see and smell the thousands and thousands of rolls of essentially textured plastic in a factory it doesn’t feel like a viable alternative. There are organic products being developed that mimic leather and this is an area I am actively exploring. I promise we will minimise our use of PU in the future and we will be changing our packaging to remove all single use plastics.
Inevitably one of our biggest losses this year was leaving Lamma Island – for me it embodied everything that I love about Hong Kong contrasts – it was simultaneously connected and remote, quirky and communal, rural and convenient and it was a great place to live and work. There are some wonderful things about living on the Isle of Wight – it is definitely remote, inconvenient, quirky and very beautiful. I can see this island being a good creative base as I do crave solitude, but we have always wanted Louella to be a discovery brand, so travel and sailing will remain our focus and I think you will see more of a reflection of this in both our patterns and in our bag styles.
The biggest change I think will be what we do with our Fuck Weasel. We have gone round and round and round with this. What do we call it? What does it stand for? (For those who don’t know how it started, here is a link to the original story).
The discovery of this hidden pin in our bags and its story has provoked really wide reactions from hilarity, (often) confusion, (sometimes) and very occasionally outrage and disgust (because of the F word). We have been really happy to let people who wanted a free pin define for themselves what they thought the F’Weasel represents. We have now sent out hundreds of pins for people who described sending them on to those they cared about who were struggling with everything from unrequited love, distressing home decoration, too many teenagers and inevitably – and closer to my original intent; office bullies. It remains both a symbol of support and a reminder of your own personal strength and we are just so happy that it has connected with so many people.
We are proud to call ourselves feminists and believe in equality for all people, regardless of gender or race. The recent revelations about sexual harassment in the film industry and in politics are not particularly surprising but the amount of righteous anger being bottled up, and the sense of potential squashed by the staus quo, has resonated with me. Obviously women’s issues are important to us wherever personal growth is prevented by the actions of others – whether that is in the boardroom or girls unable to access education due to a lack of feminine hygiene resources.
The animal, the weasel, has a reputation for cleverness and fearlessness, for punching above it’s weight when standing up to it’s enemies or protecting it’s young. It seems a very appropriate symbol for these times. I now think our fuchsia version is boiling pink with determined rage to make a change. I would like it to more clearly define support for the underdog in any situation where Might-Is-Right and regardless of gender.
Our weasel will remain hidden in our bags as I think we need reminding we have the support of many behind us but I also identify with F’weasel’s subversive nature – we can chose to release our inner weasels if we believe we can. There will also be a new line of F’Weasel products sitting alongside our bags and scarves and I would really like a percentage of profit from these to go to an appropriate charity or charities.