Emma Thieme, of Maven Leather in Cherryfield, models her Luna Crossbody Backpack and Ripley Duffle. Photograph by Kristin Clements / 88 Clementine.
Leather bags with heart.
[dropcap letter=”A”] well-designed leather handbag is like an extension of yourself: you hardly notice it’s there. Still, you want it to look good, which is why an artisan bag makes such a satisfying purchase. “One of the most important things I bring to design is intention,” explains Belle Hilmer, of Maine Leather Co. in Portland. “I think about what’s comfortable and where the wear and tear will happen. That’s not something you get with mass-produced bags.”
She and the other Maine craftswomen whose work is featured below are passionate about making bags that are beautiful, practical, and durable. “It feels good to me to put positive energy into it,” Hilmer says, “and I think you can feel it on the other side.”
Because these bags are made by hand one at a time, most can be customized — you might ask for an extra pocket or two, for example. The crafters source most of their materials from Maine, a particular point of pride. “I found the best stuff here,” Belle Hilmer says, “and I know what I’m getting because I know the people I’m working with.”