Q: Can you tell us a little about your route into founding your own handbag line?
Starting the company happened as quite a surprise—needless to say, it wasn't the plan. My background is in medicine and business—far removed from design. I thought I was always more of a fashion consumer, but now looking back, it seems I was always drawn to the industry from an early age.
Q: What prompted you to set up your brand?
I was always extremely neat and organized as a kid, [and I] always liked having dedicated spaces for things. As I got older, not even realizing it, I started accumulating quite a number of interesting bags and trunks, which I always justified by using them as storage. Alligator being one of the most durable leathers there is, I felt like I needed an alligator duffel. Not realizing the process would be so involved—and take years of research—I figured I would create one myself. Once I had immersed myself in the process and created the first bag, people started responding to what I was doing and the ball just kept rolling.
Q: What is important to you in designing a bag?
Functionality. I’m an extreme perfectionist and always have been, so naturally I want every product to be gorgeous and perfectly crafted. However, regardless as to how beautiful it is, if it doesn’t function well, I didn’t do my job correctly. I’m a huge believer in cost-per-wear and if something doesn’t function well, people don't want to use it and it won't be a good investment for them.
Q: What sets Stalvey apart from other luxury competitors?
I think one thing that we try to do differently is take something that is thought to be über precious and rework it into something that is more everyday and user-friendly—pristine luxury but with ease.
Q: Outside of celebrity circles, where and with whom are your bags most popular?
I think the feedback from our customers, regardless of their demographics, is always the same—it's the woman who's looking for something different. Either they're the mature exotics collector who has been looking for something to add into the mix or they are a younger customer who has always opted towards a more contemporary bag at the risk of exotic coming across a bit stuffy. It's a great feeling to be able to offer something that is a bit different.
Q: What do you see in the market for more expensive leather goods?
I think more and more people are leaning towards craftsmanship and quality, particularly in their accessories. And I think a lot of designer brands lately have opted for a lot of embellishments that can tie a bag to a particular season, which is fun in the moment, but could soon look dated. I think part of our success has been in creating something that is timeless. Undoubtedly, our price points can run quite steep, [but] I find that people are willing to pay extra for something if they feel they can get an unlimited number of uses.
Q: What makes the Mini Top Handle 2.0 so special?
It’s a very classic shape that has been made to feel fresh. And at a moment when so much in fashion comes with all sorts of embellishments, I think there is a lot of beauty in pieces, particularly accessories, which are clean and modern.
Q: What are your plans for Stalvey?
As much as I love the design world, I think my roots in science will always play a part. In trying to offer a fresh take on exotics, we try to think about how we can rework something so classic and traditional. Over the past two years, we worked alongside one of the top tanneries in the world, as well as one of the leading aeronautical companies to find a way to embed actual 24kt gold particles into alligator skin. The price points are, of course, a bit different than our normal scale, however, we are literally taking precious leather and combining it with fine jewelry. The end products come with a certificate certifying the content of gold, as well as an "S 24kt" stamping on the back. The nerdy science guy in me would love to continue trying to add a bit of technology into what we do.