Q & A With Award Winning Designer
From travelling model to handbag designer, Moscow-born Aussie Katya Komarova knows a thing or two about the fashion industry. We spoke to Katya about her namesake label, her move from Adelaide to Sydney and the advice she’d give to aspiring designers.
How do you stay inspired?
I practically don’t sit on a couch. I go out, do things, see women, art, movies, magazines, new cities and much more. All of it keeps me inspired. Also, I simply can’t stop doing what I am doing, even with little inspiration left. It’s such a big part of my nature now.
What is it about the Katya Komarova bags that make them so easy to travel with?
Oh, that’s my favourite question. Firstly, you can unfold each Katya Komarova bag and put it flat in your suitcase. Secondly, all of our bags have openable snap rings, which enable you to easily mix and match different straps and handles creating different looks every day. So, when I am travelling, I don’t have to take heaps of accessories. A few straps and handles with your favourite Katya Komarova bag will do the trick.
Do you have a favourite piece from across your collections that you use most often?
Yes, of course. It’s funny, my every new Katya Komarova bag is smaller and smaller. A year ago I was obsessed with our Bucket Bag and I was wearing it literally 24/7. Then I switched to the Mono Purse and hadn’t touched any other bags. I am now wearing our little cutie Mini Mono Purse and it’s in my hands every day. I am curious about what is my next obsession:)
How important is sustainability for the Katya Komarova brand?
Sustainability is very important for my brand. Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, I know from the inside how damaging this industry is to the environment. I, obviously, feel very responsible. Here are some things that make my brand less harmful to the environment than some of our analogues:
- vegetable-tanned leather that we use has no chemicals in comparison to chrome leather goods (most common)
- cotton straps
- stick-free technology, that enables reusing unsold pieces
- versatile bags against heavy consumerism
Could you tell us a bit about your move to Sydney?
Well, despite me loving it here, it wasn’t my decision and my husband and I still do miss Adelaide. We moved to Sydney for one of our other business projects as it was getting too hard for my husband to fly that often. We now live in Bondi Junction, where I have a little working studio. I have also opened doors to my office/showroom in Surry Hills, which is a big move for me as well. Long story – short, Sydney has been good for expending my business but I must say I have a great number of loyal Adelaide clients and I can’t thank them enough for supporting my brand!
Has a change of city affected your inspirations or design process?
It sure did. Firstly, I have launched a huge collaboration project with my fellow Sydney based designer Evgenia from Jane Ju Jewellery. It is a range of necklaces and chokers that work as handles and straps wit most of my bags. This has given a new look on my Mix & Match concept with interchangeable straps and handles and really elevated the original idea. Also, Sydney fashion is all about resort collections whole year long, so I couldn’t resist and made my bags fit into this vibe with bamboo and raffia woven handles.
Would you say your experience working in the industry as a model helped you transition into design?
Absolutely! I knew all the challenges my designer friends were going through. That helped me to be more prepared for that. Didn’t mean I could avoid those challenges though. Also, having been involved in hundreds of shows and photoshoots, I sort of feel how to direct it all now for my brand. And not to mention all the contacts I have made through my career, that sure helped me push my brand forward.
We love your social media campaigns! How do you go about deciding on a vision?
Thank you so much! The more I grow as a designer and as a business owner – the more I learn about my customers and what resonates with them. I also understand the importance of polished content. Yes, we all love a sense of reality and I am quite open with my behind the scenes and my lifestyle snippets in Instagram Stories. But I am also aware of the power of the look and the main message you send out there with your social media profile. Being an online business I am taking my online presence very seriously.
What is the most rewarding part of being a designer?
Seeing my designs being sold and worn. That’s what it is all about. I need to know I am creating something people would appreciate. Getting an email or a private message from my customer with a few words about how much she loves her new bag is like everything!
What is the most challenging part of being a designer?
Let go. Accept that not everything you want to design people would wear. Delegate, let others help you along the way. Look up, there is always somebody better than you, but instead of getting upset about it – get inspired and motivated.
What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received?
Wear a short skirt while you can 🙂
Any tips for aspiring designers?
Listen to your gut feeling and stop comparing yourself. Set your goal and do whatever it takes to make that picture a reality.
Follow Katya on Instagram.
To meet another Australian bag designer, tap here to find out about Cathryn Wills of Sans Beast.