LILI'S PICKS OF THE WEEK

ksenia making a handbag

Tell us your story – how did it all start?

I had a favorite leather handbag (what I had been using for years), but unfortunately in 2008 it began to fall apart. I always loved to sew – but was playing only with clothes and fabrics, and to make a bag from scratch sounded something beyond real to me (something close to: leather bags grew on trees or were made on Mars and secretly delivered to Earth). But when my fav was close to fall apart completely and it turned the model was out of stock I decided to give it a try and try to make it myself. It took a while and my leather sewing looked very amateurish so I had to hide all stitching inside. Long story short, I got the bag anyway and realized the bag was made by real people and I can make them too and can try to do anything I want.

You have a unique custom ordering process – tell us about it!

I love to make “it’s me” bags and truly believe that every bag will be more loved if it was made accordingly to the wishes of my client. So many times we have a feeling “oh I love it, but it’s not my colors/the size doesn’t work for me” whether it was about a bag or a dress, shoes, or anything else.

To be able to pick the leather colors you want, fabric that makes your heart smile, hardware color that matches your wardrobe, and to adjust the size for your lifestyle — all these details make the difference from another almost-the-one bag in the closet to it’s-me bag that will be lovely to use every day, just because it’s all you.

What’s your most popular bag?

For now, I have 5 popular models, but my customers’ favorite is the Borla bag with front pockets. It’s an everyday bag available in 2 sizes, I think my girls love it because the design is “not plain but not overdone” as they say, all the materials are very high quality, it’s well organized, lightweight, and has the perfect size for every day use — not too small not too big but huge in storage because of a couple of design tricks.

Borla bag
Borla Bag

What’s the bag or item that you think more people should know about?

Probably, it’s the Phoenix bag, it’s an elegant but still casual convertible backpack&crossbody tote. To be honest, I’m proud of this design: it doesn’t look huge but has a lot of room inside, the water bottle side pocket doesn’t pop out, and the straps when wearing as a backpack don’t slide.

phoenix backpack tote convertible bag
Phoenix Backpack Tote

Tell us the thinking behind the hardware you choose

For me hardware must be durable, reliable and good looking. And smooth going back and forth if we’re talking about zippers. It took a while to find suppliers with great quality items but now I’m very happy about the hardware I use.

What can people expect from taking one of your bag making classes?

Thank you for this question! It was huge for me to find out that we all had the same fears when start working with leather and sewing it: to choose the wrong leather and poor quality hardware, to overpay for it, the fear to cut and make the first stitchings. And in the class we start from the very beginning and go together through all these steps. The class was created to give my students confidence working with leather and making bags.

I gave a few one-on-one classes before launching the online one to be sure all possible difficulties and stops on the way would be covered. And we also have a zoom meeting once a week, just in case.

What was one of the most amazing bags that ever came out of one of your classes?

The online class is only about to launch in a couple of weeks, and in the personal class, we were making the Borla with front pockets and worked on the lining a lot. Some of my students already had some experience with leather but had some fear of making the lining and attaching it to the bag and mostly we had been working on that.

Where can you ship to?

I ship worldwide, and all the bags are carefully packaged and have a tracking number.

Do you have a physical location?

For a long time, it was only online due to the pandemic but now yes I have a lovely nicely organized live&work place and my customers are very welcome to come with an appointment.

Website: khelman.com
Instagram: @khelmanbags
Facebook: @khelmanbags

khelman tiberis feather and tassel crossbody leather tote
Khelman Tiberis Feather and Tassel Crossbody Leather Tote

khelman crossbody tote bag
Khelman Tote

khelman phoenix backpack tote
Khelman Phoenix Backpack Tote

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