Abby Crain designs, creates handmade leather bags, accessories under the brand The Blue Latitude | Way of life

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With an eye for Los Angeles fashion and a love for the ocean, Guam native Abby Crain creates locally crafted boho chic handbags and accessories that offer her shoppers a piece of her island.

At his beachside home in Merizo, Crain designs his own line of leather goods and jewelry under the brand The Blue Latitude.

The collection includes fashionable and handmade bags, clutch bags, belt bags, wallets, passport holders, backpacks, leather earrings, key chains and wristbands. shell charms.

Each piece of leather is carefully drawn, cut, sewn and stamped by hand. It may take Crain hours to assemble each item.

But with the sound of waves breaking in his garden, Crain doesn’t hesitate to get to work. She’s usually in a bikini sewing bags together as she sits on her sofa or draws in her home studio.

Bringing LA Fashion to Guam

Crain was a junior handbag designer in California who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.

When she returned to Guam a few years ago to care for her ailing mother, Crain noticed that there was no real fashion industry serving women on the island.

She wanted to follow her passion and create handbags, but she was so busy looking after her mother and doing a regular job that she didn’t have time to pursue her fashion endeavors.

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In California, she worked with a creative director of handbag design and learned the specifics of design that would eventually help her launch her own line.

But for the most part, she learned to make handmade bags and accessories on her own by experimenting on her own.

When she had time, she would make small gifts for friends, before taking her chances and creating items to sell at a craft fair. Earlier this year, Crain started making simple colored thread bracelets with a single shell in the center, as birthday gifts for a friend’s daughter.

The mermaid vibrations stuck with her and can be seen in the products she makes today.

“Little piece of house”

The brand name The Blue Latitude was Crain’s Instagram handle and a reflection of his love of the ocean.

“When I was traveling and in what I wanted to do, it was always inspired by water or islands,” she said. “Water is a big inspiration for me, and I really wanted to translate it into my bags. I wanted to capture island life.

The designer is a frequent hiker and nature lover, so she takes inspiration from the colors and patterns in the photos she takes outdoors.

“I travel a lot and go to the beach a lot, so a lot of the designs I see are from designs on the leaves or coral.”

The colors of sediment and dirt inspired her December collection, with an ombre dye with varying shades of blue.

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She also makes her bracelets and earrings with seashells that she finds while walking her dogs along the beach.

While she wanted to create visual representations of Guam through her collection, Crain didn’t want them to look like the mass-produced cheesy items usually sold to visitors.

“I wanted it to be something that I would wear, that wouldn’t make me look like a tourist,” Crain said. “By moving home, I really found a love for Guam, and I just wanted to share that and pass it on in my pieces, so people can have a little piece of home.”

Bohemian chic style

After living at the house for a few years, Crain’s style evolved from haute couture to bohemian, not least because of the heat.

“When you come from the fashion industry and LA, I was such a fan of famous brands and different fashion pieces,” Crain said. “Every time I came home my mom would tell me, ‘We’re just going to the mall, you gotta take off like three pieces Abby, you’re too many!'”

Now she describes herself as a beach bum. She is usually in overalls or sweater, if not in a swimsuit.

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Her style is reflected in her products, which can be worn for a casual look during the day or dressed up for a date.

Blue Latitude bags and leather goods are made with a minimalist design.

“The silhouettes are very simple and clean, but I try to make the designs different,” Crain said. “Every pop-up I have, I try to make a different twist on the same design.”

Natural leather treated and respectful of the environment

Especially on an island where shopping options are limited, women want unique clothes and accessories to express themselves.

Leather bags and accessories are made with naturally processed leather, barrel dyed with tree bark. It’s the most natural form of leather and the most environmentally friendly, Crain said.

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Handicrafts from The Blue Latitude are on display at Merizo on October 2, 2018.

Leather items in the Blue Latitude change color over time due to natural oils and air. They start with a light beige and pink shade and progress to a warm golden tan. Each piece is slightly different with natural markings on the skin and natural color changes.

Some of its most popular items are fanny packs. These are structured pouches with slits in the back to slip into a removable shoulder strap.

“You can use it during the day and look hipster with the belt on, or at night you can use it as a date pouch,” Crain said.

Customers also love the pom-pom earrings, which Crain originally made with scraps of leather she didn’t want to waste.

Now her tassel earrings are available in a variety of vibrant colors and are strung with seashells.

The process, from conception to creation

First, Crain starts with patterns in his head, then draws shapes to cut pieces out of large strips of skin.

Then she uses a mallet and metal tools to punch holes in the edges of the cut pieces to sew together. She sews each product by hand.

“Hand stitching lasts longer and I love the way it looks,” Crain said. “It’s actually very therapeutic, too.”

She uses a wooden stick with a groove to rub the edges of the leather with a solution of water and gum.

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For a final touch of island magic, Crain hand-stamps designs on its products in the shape of palm trees or other Guam-inspired designs.

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Blue Latitude owner Abby Crain cuts, sews and stamps each of her products by hand.  The process can take hours to create each part.

Parts can be painted with a sealer for added shine. You can also add pom poms or other special customizations to make your bags, wallets or accessories even more unique.

The hardest part of the business for Crain is trial and error, which can sometimes lead to costly mistakes. It can also be difficult to get people to understand how much work is put into each item, resulting in a higher price tag for the high quality.

“I’m a small business that makes everything by hand, and sometimes people don’t realize that this bag is just made by me, or how much effort is put into this bag,” Crain said. “Not everyone likes it, but it has come a long way.”

Crain sells its products in monthly pop-up stores and orders via email for the time being, until its website is ready for online ordering.

For updates on the latest pop-up stores, product photos and more:

Journalist Chloe Babauta tells stories of culture perpetuation, responsibility over Guam’s land issues and island life. Follow her on twitter @chloebabauta and Instagram @mestisachamorrita. Follow Pacific Daily News on Facebook / GuamPDN and Instagram @guampdn.

This article originally appeared on Pacific Daily News: Abby Crain designs, creates handmade leather bags, accessories under the brand The Blue Latitude

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