Spotlight: Vandertas Accessories {Plus A Super Exciting giveaway!}

Today I'm really excited to be bringing you another post in the spotlight series, as well as a giveaway! I love to champion small, independent businesses and makers and this post is all about a maker who is local to me which makes it even more special!

I discovered Nienke Vandertas and her beautiful leather and canvas accessories brand Vandertas at the Fresh Artisan Market in Norwich back in May. At the time, my beloved Vivienne Westwood purse was on its last legs and given that I'd had it for seven years I was pretty attached and didn't really want to have to replace it. However, I spotted Nienke's gorgeous purses on Instagram during the lead up to the market and as soon as I picked one up I knew I'd found 'the one.'

I chose a beautiful soft grey leather with contrasting yellow panels and stitching and the happiest gold lining! I've loved using it so far and Nienke very kindly sent me the matching card wallet too as my various cards didn't quite fit!

I was really excited to learn more about Nienke's work and it's a fab interview! She has also sent me two of her gorgeous grey canvas foraging bags to give away to you lovely lot, so read on the the end for the details of how to enter and be in with a chance of winning! 

Over to Nienka...

1: Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?

I’m Nienke Vandertas and I design and make leather and canvas accessories under the name Vandertas. I’m originally from Haarlem, The Netherlands and have lived in the UK since 2000. My background is graphic design, but by chance rolled into freelance event design after a few years living in the UK, which I still do along side my bags.

2a: How did you life as a maker begin? 

My Dad is a gold and silversmith and I remember from a very early age making things and being in my dads workshop. On our family holidays I would make jewellery from shells and sell them at the local market - I think I was about seven. A few years later my Dad started to show me how to use certain tools and I started making earrings and bracelets from perspex. I did consider studying gold and silversmithing, but decided to do graphic design instead.

I didn’t realise I would even like sewing, as it never occurred to me…but after being given a sewing machine for my birthday in 2003 I found my passion! Once I started sewing, I couldn’t stop. Funilly enough I never made clothes, always more utilitarian items; bags, purses and wallets and other accessories. 

2b: When did you start working with leather and why do you love the material?

This was early days. I was already using heavy duty materials like army canvas, but at a market I found some leather offcuts. When I got home and started putting it to the the test I realised my sewing machine was perfectly capable of sewing leather and that was it. Slowly, I started finding out more about the material, where to find nice leather and how best to use it. There were not that many leather merchants online at the time, so it was a process. I love the fact leather is very pliable, doesn’t fray, is very durable and combines very well with all sorts of other materials. 

3: What is your favourite item to make and why?

My favourite item to make is the gladstone (doctor's) bag. Every gladstone I make feels like a little gem, each has it's own character I guess. This character depends a lot on the materials I use make them; a doctors bag made out of a thick shoulder hide has a completely different look and feel as if I was to use a thinner leather.
The exterior is always a plain colored leather, but as soon as you open the bag it will either be lined with beautiful vintage fabric or a bright metallic foiled leather. 

I’m proud that I have doctors and midwives amongst my customers, who use their doctor's bag everyday at work.

 4: You use a lot of recycled and vintage leather and fabrics in your collections. Is this for ethical reasons as well as aesthetics? 

I would say mainly aesthetics, but its very good re-using anyway of course. Vintage fabrics have, in my opinion, much nicer designs. Very rarely I find a modern material I like. Used army canvas I use because it has a nice worn look, which gives a bag character. 

5: Living near the coast has always been a huge inspiration for me. What are you major inspirations?

It’s hard to think of where I find my inspiration as I guess it comes from so many different things. An afternoon lost in the Rijks Museum or Bag Museum in Amsterdam, finding a piece of beautiful fabric at a carboot sale. Any old style typography and design, fashion I like – particularly 1910’s till early1960’s.

6: You also teach leather workshops in Suffolk. What is the best thing about teaching other people to make something with their hands?

To see how proud students are with what they’ve made after finishing the workshop and realising the potential they have to create at home too!

7: What are you plans for the future of Vandertas?   

Keep on making!


How stunning are Nienke's accessories! She has very kindly sent me two of her foraging bags which were designed for the Alde Valley Spring Festival in 2012. They're made from used army tents, finished with bronze poppers and are just perfect for foraging or as a bag for general use. They proved so popular they became part of Nienke's main collection and I have one of each size to giveaway! 

So, to be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is: 

1: Head over to Instagram and follow both me (@thesaltedtail) and Nienke (@vandertas
2: Comment on the giveaway image (which the same as the one at the top of this post) telling us what treasures you'd collect in your bag if you won! 

For two extra chances to enter you can:

1: Repost the giveaway image on instagram (either in your main feed or stories) tagging @thesaltedtail and @vandertas so I can find it! 
2: Sign up to receive my email newsletter 'The Treasury' (which is launching soon) by clicking 'The Treasury' tab at the top of this page.

Two winners will be chosen at random on August the 11th. The first name drawn can choose either the medium or small bag, and the second name drawn will win the other! 

Good luck! 

(All images except the first are courtesy of Vandertas)

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