Interview at Cockpit Arts for a Leathersellers' Award

Cockpit Arts Design Excellence Quality Craftsmanship


Last Wednesday, we were sitting in a small room at Cockpit Arts Holborn, with four persons whose decision could make a big difference in the future of the Steven Harkin Handbags brand.

Our time in Australia coming to an end, reassured about Steve's mother's health, it seemed obvious to us that we needed to come back to Britain where our business started 12 years ago. We were missing our friends and our faithful customers. 

So, last January, we started looking at workshop spaces in London.

Steven Harkin London


Why London?

London is the place that offers the most opportunities of networking, being seen by people that count, where everything is available (tools, materials, courses, exhibitions, ...) and 3/4 of our customers live or work. We already have a presence in Dragana Perisic's shop in Shoreditch and we are talking of a collaboration with her, where I would work two days a week. Our success at Dazzle-Exhibitions for the past four years shows too that it is the right place for our bags. 

Why Cockpit Arts?

Because we felt we fitted perfectly in their offer: "Whether you’ve just launched your business or you’re more established, having a studio at Cockpit Arts with the support provided by our unique Business Incubator model can help you to realise your creative and business goals and achieve greater success."

When we found out that the Deptford branch also has a Leather Hub, we thought the Universe was providing us with the perfect environment!

The Leathersellers' Awards

When we applied for a space, we were advised to also apply for one of Cockpit Arts/Leathersellers' Awards. 

"These Awards are generously sponsored by The Leathersellers’ Company Charitable Fund. Previous award winners include Laura Amstein (2012), Benjamin John Hall (2013-14), Georgina Brett Chinnery, Ben Elbel, Maria McLean and Mark Tallowin (2014), Fflur OwenCandice Lau and Asdrubal Barreto-Abreu (2015) Charlie Laurie(2016), Joost Pasman and Harry Owen (2017)."

So let's get back to our interview:

The panel consisted of Cockpit Arts Chief Executive,  the Head of Cockpit Arts Business Incubator, a representative of Leathersellers' Company Charitable Fund and Bill Amberg for Leather Design & Production, from Bill Amberg Studio.

Steven Harkin Handbags Facebook Post

I wasn't feeling nervous and was confident that Steve's work is so amazing that it wouldn't be difficult to make a good impression... and I know I am not the only one to have this opinion!

 But the interview was nothing like we expected. (Is an interview ever predictable?). We both felt pretty discouraged at the end of the 45 minutes. 

"When we experience change in our life, we can control our response and reaction to the changes that are happening." 

Make Change Work

I am a happy subscriber of Daily OM, (it's my spiritual treat to myself). This was the title of Wednesday's newsletter in my inbox... I found it so difficult to stay positive in front of such uncertainty and couldn't help but think that what we wanted was not going to happen! I was feeling so much fear and pain! 

"Optimism, enthusiasm, and flexibility will aid you greatly here, as there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on what might have been."

I was so panicking before even knowing what the result would be! 

I know we HAVE a great product, we do have lovely customers and supporters many of whom sent us their words of encouragement: 

"Dear Steve,
Great that you are back in the UK and I look forward to hearing where you will be setting up your studio. I hope you'll decide on London!

You know it's amazing how consistently I get comments on your bags wherever I go.  I have several that I have bought over the last 10 years or so and love them all. But the ones that I use all the time and constantly get comments on, whether I am on the tube or when I go through airports or at conferences or anywhere are my gorgeous red briefcase and the wonderful dark green shoulder bag with the black patent leather base that fits my laptop as well as well as purse and kindle and still looks smart and slim. Of course the backpack is great too and when travelling I often find I am carrying it along with one of the others.
I also think it is impressive how long they have lasted. I have had my briefcase for over 10 years now and used it a great deal and it still looks brilliant and gets comments all the time. Similarly the backpack just goes on and on. 
All the best
Frances A Edwards PhD
"I do hope that Steve Harkin receives The Cockpit Arts Award. I bought an orange leather backpack from him about eighteen months ago and was very impressed by the originality of the design and the craftsmanship involved. It is beautifully constructed and made to last. I haven’t seen any similar items and that is rare. Support through the award would enable him to keep designing and to continue to innovate.
Best wishes"
Jacqueline Roy

"Dear Barbara and Steve
The leather sellers award would be so utterly well deserved... Steve’s create in design- and superb craftsmanship in creating the most beautiful and colourful work is truly unique.
A wearable useful sculpture! What more could celebrate leather workmanship!
Best wishes" 

And we did it! Steven Harkin has been offered a Cockpit Arts / Leathersellers' Award 2018


  • Caroline Grant

    Hi Steve and Barbara,
    Congratulations on your award!
    Caroline Grant

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