This is my first ever proper blog post, so I am going to tell the story of Tori Lo.
Let's start at the beginning,
The first question I always get asked when talking about my brand is: "Why Tori Lo Designs?" The reason is really quite simple. After working in the accessories industry for five years, I really wanted something that was my own. Without directly using my name, I came up with the brand name by shortening my birth name: Victoria Lorraine.
The second question is more interesting: "Why leather?" Truth be told, from a very young age up until my late teens, I actually hated leather; the smell turned my stomach. I remember going to the leather stalls at markets and bazaars while abroad and trying to drag my parents away. All this changed when I went to university to study fashion. Naturally there was a lot of making to be done, and with this came a great deal of experimentation. It was here that I discovered a little leather shop in the heart of Newcastle, the same one that I use to this day.
For my degree collection, I took the plunge and decided I would include a few leather items, realising how beautiful and versatile a material it could be. By this point I even quite liked the smell! Shortly thereafter I found myself graduated, accepted a job, and very much forgot about my brief love affair with leather. Three years later, I found myself questioning what I wanted. These questions show how lead me back to that little gem of a leather shop. With no idea what I was going to do with it, I bought some leather: plain, un-dyed, vegetable tanned leather. This is where the story of Tori Lo Designs begins.
The beauty of making items from natural leather is that each hide has it's own characteristics; even before dying, no piece of leather is the same. Unlike some heavily manufactured leathers, vegetable tanned leather develops it's own patina over time. In my eyes, this makes it all the more beautiful. The product is constantly changing, becoming its own; each piece a personal items to it's owner.
My trademark, however, doesn't come from the natural patina of the leather; it is the way in which I use colour to create vibrant and unique patterns on the hide. The idea to tie-dye leather was one that I had never seen put into practise. Like a lot of things in life, the idea came from what could have just been a throw away conversation but instead became the turning point in my business, and what makes Tori Lo Designs stand out from other leather craft businesses.
Tie- dying leather is a delicate and time consuming process. Unlike tie-dying fabric, my hides are all hand-painted, using the natural creases of the tied leather to determine where the dye should go. Since the vey first piece of tie-dyed leather I created, I have always been looking to find new ways to manipulate the colour to create bespoke pieces that are individual to their owner. In some of my other products I use masking techniques and ombre effects, I always have new ideas in the pipelines too...
Since starting Tori Lo Designs part time in 2015, with only 12 listings on Etsy, I have since developed a range of over 100 products, secured a place selling on notonthehighstreet.com, many stores, designed my own website and moved into a beautiful city centre studio.
The collection of designs has developed into something I can truly be proud of. With products being sent to all corners of the world, it is like nothing I ever could have imagined. Each and every part of the company is run single handedly by me. It can be a challenge, but it is by far the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
I can't wait to see what is in store for the future of Tori Lo.