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Meet the Maker: Kerli

Our customers and workshop participants are always eager to hear more about our crafters' jobs. This time you can read about Kerli's experience.

How did you end up working at Stella Soomlais studio and how long have you been here?

I started here as an intern in May 2018 and I’ve worked here since September 2018.


What did you do before you became a crafter at Stella Soomlais studio? How did you discover leather craft?

I studied at TKK University of Applied Sciences and I was determined to continue working with fabrics. They mentioned at the university that you can do your internship also at a leather studio and I was curious to work with different materials besides fabrics. While interning at Stella Soomlais studio, I realised that leather crafting is very interesting and I wanted to continue working in this field.


How long does it take to acquire the skills needed to make Stella Soomlais bags?

It depends on the person and how work is divided in the studio. The first bag you make could be flawless but if you make the same bag several times, you learn how to be more efficient and find your own useful tricks. It’s true that if you start with the smallest bag and move on to larger ones, then you acquire the necessary skills step by step with every bag you make.

How long does it take to make a bag?

The time you spend on a bag depends mainly on the complexity of the design and the skills of the crafter, but different technical problems with machinery which mark the leather or mess up a detail can also play an important role. It also takes longer if you’re making more than one of the same product.


What do you like about being a crafter?

I like that I can make something with my hands which brings joy to someone else. It’s so exciting to think that at any moment, you might see a bag you made walking past you on the street. I also like that my work is diverse and helps me develop my skills. There are still products that I haven’t yet made and I’m constantly learning something new. Leather is a very diverse and interesting material to work with.

Is it hard work?

The work itself isn’t hard but working with leather requires quite a lot of strength which can lead to problems with hands, shoulders etc over time. To prevent these problems, we need to regularly do special exercises that a physiotherapist taught us.


Which Stella Soomlais bag is your personal favourite?

My favorites are constantly changing. My current favourite is the “Take a Short Day Off” handbag that I’m using every day. Everything I need fits into the bag and it looks minimalistic and chic.

What do you like the most about working at Stella Soomlais studio?

First, I was enchanted by the look and atmosphere of the studio – it was brimming with creativity and felt so welcoming. I feel very motivated here. It’s also so easy to work with such lovely colleagues with whom working days go past so fast.


Which designers do you personally follow?

I mostly follow fashion designers on Instagram, for example Roberta Einer, Denisse M Vera, Iris van Herpen. From bag designers, I follow the works of CARV.


What do you like to do outside work?

I enjoy taking photos in my spare time. Sometimes I manage to bring the camera to the studio and encapsulate the hustle and bustle of everyday studio life. Some of these photos have been used in our social media and elsewhere.

Do you eat meat?

During the last year, I’ve reduced my consumption and I’ve eaten very little meat.


What does the future hold for you?

I don’t know – we’ll find out. I live in the moment!


Photos: Gerli Pesor, Kerli Mullamaa