Emma White has spent 15-years designing and developing accessories for the likes of Paul Smith, Alice Temperley, Sophie Hulme, and Mary Katrantzou. This wealth of experience led her to take the plunge and launch her own award-winning leather accessories label for children (and their parents) in 2016, after – yep, you’ve guessed it – spotting a gap in the market. And it’s the expertise of a small, family-run factory in Frome that Emma trusts to handcraft all of her products.
Emma: "I set up Honey & Toast last year whilst on maternity leave with my second child, Ellis. I hit publish on the website as I went back to work in November. It’s all in an effort to work more flexibly with my two children, especially as Erin starts school this year. I have always worked with leather and in accessories, and I’m still working now – four days-a-week on a freelance basis."
Emma’s aim was to create a range of leather accessories designed to meet the "high expectations" of both children and their parents. Her bags – which are all named after apples, how appropriate for Somerset! – are handcrafted in Frome and, she says, it’s the company’s “hands-on” approach which is very important to her.
Emma: "Each piece in the Honey & Toast collection has been designed and carefully developed to be of the highest, enduring quality, in order to grow with your child, telling and celebrating the tale of their daily life and adventures. It’s all designed by me at my home in Peckham, London, in the corner of my lounge, when the children are asleep! All the bags are made in a super family-owned factory in Frome. The bags really are handmade – they are cut by Mike, then stitched together on machines by hand, and all the brass hardware is hammered in by hand. It’s pretty amazing to be honest."
Honey & Toast is going from strength-to-strength in the UK and Emma’s just been given a platinum award by Junior Magazine for Best Children’s Fashion Accessories brand – recognition that left her "speechless and over the moon". And the company is now gaining an international following – her bags are available in Singapore, Canada and the United States of America. Not bad for a brand that was born from "a love of print and accessories".
Emma: "I felt there was an opportunity for well-designed bags and accessories for children. There are so many options for clothing but not many for bags, right? And I’m so over the printed oil cloth rucksacks! The bags and accessories in the range are all designed with the old school satchel aesthetic in mind – but using fun colour blocking and print. They are made to work hard and grow up with the child, not be chucked out after a few months. They are made to accompany them on all their adventures and get bumped and scraped along they way."
Emma’s family is the main inspiration behind Honey & Toast – from starting the company so she could spend more time with her children, to the very name she uses for the brand.
Emma: "The name Honey & Toast comes from being the single food my daughter would always eat when she wouldn’t eat anything else! Our print designs are inspired by our most favourite adventures such as the monsters and rockets in our Space print. Our Garden print tells the story of happy times pottering about in the back yard. And then there’s the Leopard – in super cool grey, mustard yellow and teal. We love that our prints are unisex, something we think might be missing out there right now."
Emma says that her bags are not just popular with children – mums are getting in on the action too! Honey & Toast offers a rather lovely service that allows parents to immortalise their children’s drawings or words in leather.
Emma: "I am finding grown-ups buying the bags – lots of mums are buying the Etter saddlebag, and I am in the process of developing a larger Rocket satchel also. Mums like to have the same bag, or same colourway as their child. Twinning is winning and all that! My favourite bag is the Rocket Scooter satchel, and it has been the best seller so far. It’s a satchel that fits onto the scooter’s handlebars securely with poppers, but it also works as a small day pack too on their backs. I love this bag! I also offer a bespoke service so you can get your child’s name (in his or her own writing) on their bag, or a favourite doodle, or a heartfelt message for their first day of school – and of course we can do initials."
So why does Emma love Somerset?
Emma: "Well for me the answer would be because when I come to Somerset it’s to work with the super factory and to bring home super high quality bags that are made in the UK. I couldn’t be prouder to sell them to my customers."
All photos are courtesy of Rebel and Rose Photography.