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Meet Cecilia Bordarampe of Are Studio in DTLA – Garment District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cecilia Bordarampe.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Cecilia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started the company in 2012 after a long stint working as a museum curator. Though my interest in textiles and design has been lifelong – from early childhood growing up in a house that was full of antiques and textiles from around the world, throughout college at SAIC – my decision to begin designing bags grew organically out of a personal need. I was having a hard time finding a bag I liked that was void of too much hardware, so I tried making one for myself. There was such a strong connection between designing handbags and my own already established art practice. It felt natural to transition into designing something functional with my background in textiles, sculpture, and architecture very much present.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think I’ve been very fortunate so far. There is an incredible community of small, women-owned businesses in Los Angeles and it can be a great source of support when obstacles do arise. I also have at my back an extremely supportive family and network of friends who have been there for me through all the tough patches of starting and owning my own business. Having very high standards as far as quality and low-waste production practices can be a challenge at times, but over the years I have been able to form close relationships with my suppliers and manufacturers. This makes everything a lot more manageable and rewarding and has allowed me to be consistent as far as the ethos of Are Studio and my own values as a designer are concerned.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Are Studio specializes in leather bags that are minimal and timeless. Our bags are made by hand in the US and we source our materials and supplies from local family-owned manufacturers and businesses in Los Angeles. An eye toward minimal waste is key in the production of Are Studio goods and is an important guiding factor when it comes to the design and functionality of each style.

One thing that sets us apart is that we embrace the natural imperfections of leather. We understand that each hide is unique, and to embrace that means that each bag a one of a kind. Our designs are functional but simple, mostly devoid of hardware. This simplicity of form allows for each bag to serve as a clean slate for each person to make their mark and personalize the bag they carry, depending on the everyday staples they pack and how their environment interacts with it.

We love this sort of romantic idea that each surface impression serves as a record of life experiences and are proud of creating bags that are more akin to companions for everyday life than just objects that serve a specific function.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up around a lot of art and music and was one of those kids that always had a class to go to; ballet, cello, printmaking, etc. I was lucky to be exposed to so many things, and being naturally inquisitive I was able to figure out through experience what felt like a right fit. Style was definitely something that came naturally to me at an early age. I remember going to a vintage store owned by a friend of my mother’s; I always walked out of there with 30s and 40s dresses, 70s blouses and bell bottoms, which I proudly wore to school. Being able to individualize through clothing was an important discovery for me. As was spending lots of time outdoors in natural environments. My father is a musician, so hearing and playing music was a big part of my childhood and is still a big part of my life, how I connect and make sense of the world.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos by Jane Dylan Cody (@jndylncdy)

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