The ebb and flow of Salcombe estuary inspires artisan bag maker WILL BEES to create one-off designs. Interview: Anna Turns
I feel happiest when the tide floods in. The back door of my workshop slides open onto a slipway so I can hop into my boat and escape up the peaceful creeks at high tide. Sometimes I move my desk to be in view of the water; or I’ll go surfing, windsurfing or paddleboarding.
I work between traditional boat builders and chandleries on Island Street. Perhaps a bag shop isn’t what you’d expect to see here but my vision is vintage industrial so it’s an ideal fit. The oldest fishing boats, worn by time and use, look just as they did decades ago – they’re a constant in these evolving surroundings. Although the water inspires me, my style doesn’t necessarily fit the nautical cliché.
Just like the shipwrights working next to me, I try to create something timeless and personalised with real craftsmanship. I emboss each leather logo by hand with the customer’s initials and they seem proud to own something totally unique. Making a bag with my own hands using traditional tools feels magical. It’s about going back to basics. Everything is made in England.
My parents met in Salcombe and although we lived in Bristol, we holidayed here throughout my childhood. My family moved here permanently 20 years ago. I’m lucky to work in such a beautiful coastal spot and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else now. Above all, it’s a wonderful place to share with our children as they grow up and experience it through all their senses, with sand between their toes.
For more information, see willbeesbespoke.com.