My name is Leaan (you can call me Lulu) and I make bags from beautiful, natural cork leather. I haven’t always made bags, so let me go back a little bit.
For the last 20 years I have worked in the Ballroom and Latin dance industry, designing and making sparkling costumes as seen on Strictly Come Dancing and for dancers like Motsi Mabuse, Katya Jones and a several celebrities that took part in the show.
The last 15 years were spent working for myself; and I travelled all over the world to see my customers, giving them a bespoke and personalised service, providing gorgeous dresses and accessories.
Like with many other small businesses, everything changed in 2020. The dance world came to a complete standstill and I was like a planet knocked out of its orbit. What on earth could I do now? So I began a new journey...
My creative mind and hands had to be satisfied, so I started making handbags. I experimented with a variety of materials, but wanted more of a challenge. A product that was upmarket, durable and stylish. The luxury of leather, but not animal leather. I discovered cork leather, and was instantly smitten.
Cork ‘leather’, or cork fabric, is not to be mistaken for the hard and crumbly notice boards and 80’s wall tiles. It comes from the same tree– the cork tree, which is part of the oak tree family and can grow up to 300 years old.
Every eight to nine years a tree is harvested of its bark; and in the time that it’s growing new bark, it absorbs three to five times more CO2. A small forest of cork trees can absorb approximately 20 million tones of CO2 per year, helping reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
After harvesting, cork is left to air dry for six months. Then, it’s boiled in water only to get even more elasticity. Heat and pressure are applied to cork to press it into blocks, which are later sliced in thin sheets that can be transformed into a multitude of wonderful cork leather accessories. Unlike the heavy chemical processing of animal leather, cork leather production is completely chemical free.
With over 50% of it’s volume being air, cork is six times lighter than animal leather. Due to it’s honeycomb structure, cork is highly abrasion resistant, and also stain and water resistant.
Leaan Meys - Founder of Lulu Bespoke Bags
The one thing my customers always comment on is the softness of the leather. They love that’s it’s 100% natural and vegan. Cleaning is as easy as using water and a small amount of soap.
My background is all about providing a bespoke service, individual pieces and problem solving, which I implement into each of my Lulu’s Bespoke Bags.
For instance, how often do you hunt around in your bag for your keys?
Well, I have a solution for that, with a specially designed key tab that comes as standard with each of my hand-made bags. I help dynamic professionals design their perfect bag that fulfils all of their needs, using this amazing eco-friendly product, which makes it an ideal gift for a birthday, anniversary or Christmas present.
Or perhaps, you just want to spoil yourself. Unique wearable art Lulu’s Bespoke Bags is not just about creating something beautiful from a flat sheet of material, it’s also about creating a unique piece of wearable art. I guess you could say that I am trying to save the planet one bag at a time.