Let's admit it - Austin thinks it's *the* Texas hub of innovation and progressive thinking. But I gotta say, Houston's game is strong! Every year we see more and more incredibly talented artists, designers and makers hail from Houston. Vanessa is definitely one of them, and when we first saw her buttery leather bags, clutches and tassels, we knew we needed her to be in our Feliz Family.
Name: Vanessa Vaught
Business: Hatton Henry
Product: Leather bags & accessories
Location: Houston, Texas
Astrological sign: Taurus
What you had for breakfast: An egg sandwich a la Joseph. My boyfriend makes, hands down, THE MOST AMAZING egg sandwich on the planet.
Thank you for joining us in Feliz this year! Can you tell us more about Hatton Henry and what you'll be bringing to Feliz?
Hatton Henry is a leather workshop based in Houston, Texas. As a small two gal operation, we design, cut, sew, and assemble each item by hand. Happy for any chance to visit my hometown, we will be bringing our small line of leather bags and accessories to Austin for Feliz!
How did you get involved in leather working?
Hatton Henry is the convergence of many lines of inspiration, reaching back to childhood. My love of leather, time spent as a vintage clothing dealer, my insatiable need to create things, and a bit of a bag obsession.
As a child, I often visited my grandparents house in Rockwall, Texas. After closing the family business’s two leather workshops in town, my grandfather downsized his operations to his garage, with customers on over a year long wait list for one of his saddles. Needless to say, the smell of leather permeated their home, and the memories of my grandfather working away at his craft stayed with me. The idea of working with leather in some way on my own haunted me for years.
Later, I subsidized my income while attending the University of Houston selling vintage clothing, mostly boots and bags. My fondness for the simplicity and clean lines of a vintage Coach bag got me to thinking about a brand based on similarly minimal designs. I felt empowered by the shift I saw in our country; out of economic hardships came inspiration. I read of people with nothing left to lose, deciding to make a business out of doing the things that they loved to do. About two years ago, all of these paths eventually met up and Hatton Henry was born.
Where did you learn your craft?
My grandfather and great-grandfather (George Hatton Vaught & George Henry Vaught) were saddles makers G.H. Vaught & Son. Sadly, they passed on before I ever had a chance to learn directly from them. I am self-taught, inspired by the past, the present, and the future. Being self taught, I have spent countless hours learning everything I can about leather, bag making, sewing, and there is always more to know. I find ideas in everything, and only feel limited by my ability to keep up with it all!
Where are the places you feel most inspired to come up with new design ideas?
In my (precious!) spare time, and when we are lucky enough to travel, I enjoy people watching. This can take place anywhere, but I prefer parks, concerts, city streets, and cafes. I really love it a lot. People are awesome. If you watch long enough, you will see what they are looking for. Whether or not self-expressing is their goal, the things people choose to adorn and accessorize themselves with says a whole lot. You can see what types of, in this case, bags and carry goods they find useful, watch them use them, and can even come up with ways to solve their problems in this arena.
I am inspired by all types of construction, furniture, clothing, architecture, and in general, the way two materials are joined together. This is a deep abyss of ideas.
Another fantastic source of new design ideas is my lovely customers brains. They know exactly what they want, and they are wonderful enough to share these ideas with me. While not everything fits within my very small line, I cannot thank people enough for their willingness to give these gems to me.
Take us a little bit through your process of idea to product.
I wish this was a straight line of logic, ha! Currently, we do not operate on seasonal collections, instead with one new design at a time. A lot of our designs are small runs due to the scarcity and inconsistency of the raw materials we source. Most often, ideas bounce around for months, researched and prototyped in spare hours, and are then introduced to friends and to customers at the many local markets that we participate in. Getting first hand feedback of a new design is very helpful. From this point, we make and necessary tweaks and then begin to share the new product with out social networks, stockists, etc. Bestsellers are then added to our line-up on a more permanent basis.
all photos via Melissa Laree Cunningham , except for portrait (via Vanessa Vaught)