Designer Profile: Lokoa Leather

Apr 22, 2014 | Designer Profile

This week we delve into the creative realm of Lokoa Leather designer, Brie Shinn, to find out what makes her tick and preview her breathtaking new collection, A Taste Of Freedom.

Warning, your bank balance may take a beating once you have viewed these images. They are all kinds of wonderful.

Tell us about how and when your label was created?

Five years ago, on holiday in Bali, I decided to take my daydreams of my perfect handbag further and had a leather bag made up for my own personal collection (the original Lotus bag).  I combined the inspiration I’d taken from my travels; the cultures of Brazil, Argentina, and also Southeast Asia had such a fun, free spirited energy that I wanted to take that home with me.  Everyone was wild for it when I brought it back, so I arranged to have some more samples made up and they sold out within a week!

That was four years ago, now I’m thrilled that Lokoa has grown into an amazing range beyond what I could have imagined!

What pieces are included within your range?

You know, Lokoa women are just amazing.  We’re a diverse collection of modern ‘gypsets’ who were born to love, explore and definitely stand out!   We want to express that every day, but at the same time we’re totally practical.  So every Lokoa piece has been designed so that you can easily just throw it on and head out the door feeling and looking gorgeous.

The range includes wallets, bags, footwear, plus stylish, goddess inspired apparel.  I am especially looking forward to the new range, ‘A Taste of Freedom’ AW14. Oh my goodness! The details in the new pieces are just divine!

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What is your creative background?

Before Lokoa I owned a successful home decor business called Shindig Decor, which was mainly focused on fun and quirky screenprint art.  Though I’ve always been creative through fashion as well. Lokoa is a result of many years, and a lot of resources, being poured into understanding how good design works and how I could express my own personal style through the colours and textures of clothing and accessories.

Where is the label designed and made?

I design a lot of the range here at home on the Gold Coast, but the range is handmade within Indonesia.  I personally source all the leathers, suedes, fabrics and embellishments including the amazing limited edition fabrics from places like Guatemala and the Northern Hilltribes of Thailand.  I like to test all the colour dyes myself before we go into production.

I’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with tailors and manufacturers overseas so I know I can trust them.  It’s important to me that I have complete control over the quality of the materials and manufacturing processes being used to create the Lokoa range.  I love my customers, they deserve only the best quality products and so I work hard to make sure they get it.

What inspires you?

Oh, too many to mention here! Definitely daydreams of secret getaways to exotic locations!  Lokoa was inspired originally by my travels overseas to experience the vibrant cultures of places like South America Asia and the South Pacific. Of course I’m still inspired by my travels, but now also my beautiful customers and the way they wear their Lokoa.  I love exploring new places, meeting new people, listening to music, hanging with friends and following fashion.  I especially enjoy the way different colours or textures can lift you up or make you feel more gorgeous in an instant.

Latest collection consists of?

I’m so excited about this! Each new range is like a whole new story; the same way we open new chapters in our lives, Lokoa is about to open a new chapter called ‘A Taste of Freedom’.  We’re always running around getting things done, but inside we’re free spirits; confident, bold, and maybe even a little bit wild!  ‘A Taste of Freedom’ is an expression of breaking from everyday demands, embracing adventure and connecting with our wilder sides.

The new pieces incorporate exquisite chiseled cut leather detailing, the softest of suedes, hand dyed python, patterned cowhide and of course more of the brilliant colours Lokoa known for.

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What's on your mood board?

Without a doubt - Tropical paradises, bohemian bungalows, beautiful people, words of wisdom, lots of bright colours, and the work of my favourite artists and designers.

What’s your creative space like?

At the moment, a really fun, but cosy indoor beach shack.  Lokoa HQ overlooks the ocean which is amazing.  I’ve got a lot of reinvented furniture, rugs, bright coloured everything, white walls filled with photos of people I love, and Lokoa samples everywhere (organised chaos I think they call it)!  Also, I didn’t realise this until the other day when a friend pointed it out, but there’s a serious pineapple thing happening.  They’re everywhere!  Definitely love a sunny, tropical vibe.

What music do you listen to while designing/creating?

My playlist consists of a bit of everything, even I’m surprised what pops up on my shuffle sometimes!  Artists like Rufus, Chinese Man, and Major Lazer get me in the groove whilst working from the office; I’ll mellow out with India Arie, Bobby Alu and Eddie Vedder… ohhhhh yes, dreamy Eddie!

A day in the life of you consists of?

Lots of moving around!  Any entrepreneur will tell you that you have a lot to get done in a short amount of time.  I run Lokoa full time, and split my time between home in Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and Bali, Indonesia (where Lokoa is made) my second home!  I spend about 6 months of the year in between both!  At home I’m always in between the post office sending online orders, the showroom, and back to my office to take care of the back end.  When I’m away, I’m designing, meeting with my tailors and personally sourcing the materials.

Of course I make time for my friends, my amazing man, family and (when I’m away) the odd cocktail by the beach at sunset, but I’m lucky that Lokoa keeps me very busy!

Favourite TVM stall (besides yours of course)?

Oh don't get me started!  I'm sure everyone at TVM knows how much I love to chat and mingle (and buy!).  Of course I love Reinvented Treasures, as pretty much my whole house is decked out in all of Kelly's amazing pieces!  Plus I can't go past the fabulous Jewellery by Kim, and I have a whole drawer at home dedicated to Designs by Dust from Jess.  Hattie always has some amazing one off vintage buys too... stop me now or I will go on forever!

Favourite reads/blogs?

At the moment my bedside read is 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' by Richard Carlson.  This is such a fab read with some really cool little reminders about how life can drive you crazy if you don’t take time to pause and remember what’s really important to you.

What are we likely to find you wearing on market day? Any favourite labels?

Lokoa of course!  Though you may find that I change throughout the course of the day - just one outfit is never enough! I admit I’m a die hard fan of Tigerlily, Mister Zimi and Sass & Bide!

What can we expect from the next collection/what are your plans for 2014 and beyond?

The next collection will be exploring new territory.  I will still be keeping a lot of the favourites, and even bringing back some older designs due to popular demand, but I am excited to explore new styles and incorporate new materials into the designs.  As for 2014 I’m going to be focusing on growing the online side of the business, and really build the wonderful Lokoa community. I have some amazing stockists, but not everyone is lucky enough to be able to visit our stall, so I’d love to be able to bring Lokoa to them!

Why TVM? 

Lokoa has been part of TVM for at least 4 years now!  I love the local designer community here on the Gold Coast, and TVM is a big part of that.  There are so many brilliant creative designers who come to TVM rain, hail, or shine; every time I take a walk around to check in with people who are now my dear friends, I become inspired by how committed everyone is to their art and their customers.

What do you love most about attending TVM?

I love being able to mingle with my customers other stall holders that are now awesome friends of mine – not to mention being part of the coolest designer markets in my own backyard!

Connect with Lokoa:

Online store