Holden Leather Goods
Dingle is home to an exceptionally wide variety of locally produced food, crafts and artworks which have been gaining a reputation for quality, innovation and style. In order to showcase this creativity and quality we have decided to focus on a local business each month in our new “Made in Dingle” blog series. We hope you enjoy it! First to feature in the series is Holden Leathergoods
Holden Leathergoods was founded almost 30 years ago after Conor Holden returned to Ireland from London with the mission to create a new luxury brand of leather goods. Today Holden are the longest established leather goods brand both designed and made in Ireland. Since 1989 they have built an international reputation for beautifully designed pieces from the highest quality Italian leather.
I caught up with Conor Holden to put a few questions to him about what it takes to run a successful business in Dingle.
Q) Describe a typical day at the helm of Holden Leathergoods
Conor: In at lunchtime, lunch break, rest then home! (laughs)
But really . . . I head into the office in our workshop which is situated in the Old Schoolhouse by Dingle harbour early before anyone arrives so I can catch up on emails and orders. As we ship internationally, many online orders come in overnight from different times zones and these need to be processed by our team, so I like to have a good overview of what’s happening, and what’s selling globally.
I also personally manage the workshop team of highly trained artisans and produce special orders. On certain days, I liaise with our carefully selected tanneries and work with my wife Claire on new designs. Our workshop is also a shop - so often customers pop in and I like to have the opportunity to meet and talk to them personally and get feedback on our designs. Over the years this has led to many friendships with visitors from all over the world. After this… it’s breakfast!
Q) What is your most popular product at the moment and how varied is your customer profile?
Conor: Our Holden backpack which we launched earlier this season has become iconic and the ‘must have’ backpack’ for both men and women. It has been our best seller all Summer and looks set to remain our number one product going into the winter season. It’s success is its beauty, functionality and durability. Once purchased, it will last a lifetime and actually look better with age. It is then followed at the moment by wallets for men and belts for everyone. Our Siobhan Tote, which is part of our classical collection, also remains a strong favourite.
Our customers are all ages, from all walks of life - and from all over the world! They appreciate quality and know they are investing in a bag or accessory that is ethically created right here in our Dingle workshop using only the finest leathers and materials. They know that a Holden is for life, and our designs are timeless, so cannot be dated to a particular trend or fashion fad.
Q) What are the advantages/challenges of running a business in Dingle?
Conor: Dingle’s magic is its remoteness and magnificent scenery however this means that it is also very seasonal and we have had to develop our business online so that it is viable all year around. We continue to invest in promoting our brand values and also to attract visitors to our workshop - as it is truly a unique experience.
The Kilkenny Design Centre has recently claimed to be "obsessed" with the Holden backpack in particular. Actress Victoria Smurfit is a big fan too and describes the Holden pieces as “modern classics”. Having visited both the workshop in the Old Schoolhouse just outside Dingle and the retail shop in Dingle town I have to agree that the Holden Leathergoods experience is fabulous. Just being in such close proximity to all those immaculately crafted bags gives your spirits a lift. The quality is all around, even the leather-scented air appeals to the senses and tempts you to invest!
So if it's a stunning gift for someone special you're after or maybe an indulgent treat for yourself because you're worth it, look no further than Holden Leathergoods. An investment in style and sophistication, your unique piece will invoke admiration from your peers and serve as an everyday reminder of Dingle's unique creativity that will stand the test of time.
Holden ship worldwide and the collection can be viewed and purchased on www.holdenleathergoods.com.
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