Meet Your Maker Monday: Julia Gabriel
I met Julia Gabriel at this year's Lawndale Design Fair in the Texas Co-Op section. At events like this, I'm always looking for more Houston makers to cover in different disciplines. Julia's work, with its graphic forms and color, caught my eye, and I asked if I could include her in the MYMM series. I hope you enjoy the visit to her studio to see what goes into producing her bags.
What is your name, company, URL, and social media links?
Julia Gabriel Studio / www.juliagabrielstudio.com
What do you make?
I make architecturally inspired handbags out of leather and canvas. Each piece, from dyeing to cutting to sewing, is made-to-order by my two hands with the assistance of my industrial sewing machine, which never fails to save the day. The golden ratio is a theme throughout the brand, and is my starting point for each design. Using this principle allows me to create accessories with aesthetic balance, and it ties each bag together as a collection in a not so obvious way.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My studio is currently in my home, so I usually make some coffee and start going through emails before my eyes have fully opened. Then I get right to sewing. If I'm out of fabric I'll dye some more in my bathtub (and then bleach it thoroughly), cut and finish leather, all while keeping one eye on whatever show I'm binge watching on Netflix. Then my dog, Lula May, will let me know it's time for a walk. She keeps me balanced.
Why did you decide to start your own business and why Houston?
I always knew this is what I wanted to do with my life, but never planned on doing it so soon. I have a rare jaw condition that revealed itself while I was in college at Virginia Commonwealth University, and I knew I needed to come home to Houston after graduation to figure out how to resolve it. This involved years of chronic pain, many doctors, and it eventually led to surgery. During this waiting period I worked part-time at different places, but the only thing that kept me sane was to design and sew. As I started to meet other makers in Houston, and established myself as one of them, I realized there was no turning back and I had accidentally ended up on the path I always dreamt of.
What are your inspirations and how do they guide your work?
Architecture and geometry have been major influences in my design aesthetic. My dad is an architect and taught me to appreciate form and line at an early age. Sometimes I wonder if my attraction to structure is partly due to the deterioration of my jaw bones, but that might be a stretch. I love simple shapes that are highlighted with the use of color and contrasting materials.
What's next for Julia Gabriel Studio?
I'm currently working on my Fall collection and I'm excited to introduce some new shapes and more color! I've learned a lot in the last year about what my customer is looking for and I feel like I'm getting closer each time.
What do you want people to know about your work?
I want people to know that each design is carefully thought out and sewn together with them in mind. Creating is definitely an outlet for me, but the real gratification is making something that others will love and get excited about.