Tamara Harvey is the newest addition to The Clothing Lounge designers. The British leather accessories label takes its inspiration from iconic Hollywood icons and provides women with everyday chic in the form of beautiful and practical bags and pouches.
TLC: When and where did you first begin?
TH: The label was founded in 2016 in Devon, England. With a simple sketch for a timeless leather zip pouch - it has all grown from there.
TLC: Where does your design inspiration come from?
TH: In everyday life, I always design products to solve the style problems in my life. I designed our first ever product - a duck egg blue leather zip pouch - because I simply couldn’t find a clutch bag which was elegant, sleek and colourful.
It was the same when I designed our tote bags; I wanted a bag that was equal in practicality and stylishness.
I take inspiration from the 1960's in terms of experimenting with bold colours and have always been a fan of Piet Mondrian’s artwork. Style wise, I’m a great admirer of the greats of Old Hollywood (such as Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and flame-haired Rita Hayworth).
TLC: Describe your brand in 3 words.
TH: Colourful, chic and conscious.
TLC: What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
TH: I suppose one of the most difficult aspects is having to wear multiple hats at the same time; you’ve got to be a designer, accountant, photographer, web designer and sales agent all in one! It can be exhausting at times but at the end of the day, it is definitely worth it.
I would say that the hardest aspect of running a young fashion label is getting stockists and buyers on board. In this industry, there are ways new labels springing up every couple of months and so buyers are inundated with designers. As an entrepreneur, you have to be clever and always on the lookout for people to partner with.
I would definitely warn any aspiring fashion entrepreneurs that finding stockists is the most difficult aspect.
It’s the most important one and is very rewarding. If you have designed great products, then finding stockists will be easier - although still challenging at times.
TLC: Which part of the creative process do you enjoy most and which the least?
TH: I love playing with leather and hardware samples. In a way, it’s like being a big kid with a trunk of art supplies! I have boxes of colourful leather swatches by my desk and another large box of suede swatches.
The tactile creative elements of running my label is always what I love the most -designing, sampling, testing new products and creating content.
TH: It’s hard to decide on a part I like the least because when you run a company you don’t always have the luxury of passing the odious tasks onto someone else. However, on the whole, the perks of running my own brand outweigh the piles of paperwork! There are always hurdles or unexpected niggles that will set you back and these can be very frustrating - if not upsetting at times. Designing a collection, sourcing materials and going into production is timely because - as a smaller label - you’re always subject to a manufacturer’s schedule.
TLC: Do you have a mentor?
TH: I don’t have a business nor a design mentor but take inspiration from lots of different sources. Before founding Tamara Harvey, I owned a previous business and have been able to transfer the skills and experiences from that to Tamara Harvey.
There’s some great free courses and video tutorials online to help entrepreneurs – not really any about launching fashion brand which is why I founded my YouTube channel.
These free resources are great to learn the essentials of marketing and accountancy which one would usually gain from a mentor.
TCL: How long did your latest collection take to create?
TH: All our products are handcrafted
Production times are longer for us than for other brands who outsource. Thus, can easily be twice the length of the initial design stage. Of course, it also depends on the complexity of the designs but - on average - it can take from three to five months to take a product from a sketch to full production.
TCL: What are your future plans?
TH: World domination!
I want to take the brand higher and higher, put our products in front of as many customers as possible and expand our product range – all without compromising on our 'Made in England' ethos.
There are several other categories I would like to take Tamara Harvey into but leather accessories will remain our primary category for now.
TCL: Which pieces do you think everyone should have in their wardrobe?
TH: Every stylish woman needs a go-to tote bag in her wardrobe. A fantastic tote isn’t just practical - it’s stylish and can be used all the time.
I created our leather tote bags for that very reason; I wanted a colourful tote which I could use to carry all my stuff in for the office but was also chic enough that I could use it to go out to lunch with friends on the weekends.
They’re also fantastically practical for travelling and some customers even use them as beautiful gym bags. I personally love our bright yellow tote bags for the summer because they’re such statement pieces and will inject colour into any outfit.
Another timeless piece which I think everyone should have in their wardrobe is our black leather zip pouch. They’re so sleek and chic and are such a great accessory for nights out. Whether you’re going to a formal event, a wedding or simply the local restaurant - our pouches are universal. Pair them with a gown or a pair of jeans and heels – the opportunities are endless. They really are a staple of every wardrobe.
TLC: What attracted you to The Clothing Lounge?
One of the biggest draws of The Clothing Lounge is the way you champion and provide a platform for the best independent brands.
TH: Customers are seeking brands with provenance that offer something different to what is available on the high street and I believe The Clothing Lounge does this well. You have an eclectic mix of brands and products and I knew that my brand would sit perfectly alongside them!