During Covid Lockdown I set out to design a range of luxury leather handbags using the finest quality butter-soft leather with the chicest metal fittings at a price that the high street would fully embrace.

This was not the easiest task, mainly because I’m not a designer but why let that small hurdle stand in my way? Luckily I had a few things up my sleeve.

I have over 35 years of experience working in the leather accessories industry. Just like the "Kinky Boots" story I worked in the music industry and then advertising in London before leaving the executive world to run the traditional family leather goods factory.

The only other similarity was the manufacture of leather hot pants, which my mother modelled and the production of the "condomofax " for Filofax personal organisers.  We did however manufacture successfully for companies such as Next, Liberty, Mulberry, House of Fraser, River Island and John Lewis. Latterly I built partnerships with factories in India and China where I learnt to import high-quality leather accessories for brands and retailers.

During this time I was a member of the National Committee of the British Travel Goods, Handbags and Accessories Association (BTAA), acting as Vice Chairman for many years, then Chairman.

After the Leather goods factory closed in 2012 I worked as Chief executive of the BTAA for a number of years, which included hosting and developing The Fashion Accessory of The Year Awards at Birmingham National Exhibition Centre.

After leaving the Trade Association I worked as a consultant for overseas handbag manufacturers as well as an agent for handbag brands. This was vital in understanding what the customer actually wants, rather than what the brands want to sell you !.

This time also coincided with a number of appearances on TV Shopping channels, selling of course handbags!.

Frustrated by the brands not taking on board of my suggestions I decided to create my own handbag and accessories brand, Lappella !.

Designing my first collection was a joy because I was armed with the best-selling, sort-after styles, the soft leather that everyone wanted, the factories to make the bags and of course a huge database of retailers to sell them to.

My goal was to create high-quality, well-designed, butter-soft leather handbags and accessories with wide appeal but with a twist, at fair and reasonable prices.

Six months later I’d spent tens of thousands of pounds, passed hours on Zoom calls with manufacturers, tweaked the designs and colours hundreds of times and driven up and down the country like a lunatic selling my creations into all of the UK’s finest Department stores and boutiques. All I needed to know now was whether customers would actually buy my soft leather bags or whether I’d burnt through my life’s savings for nothing.

That was two years ago…and as the re-orders come trickling and now flooding in I finally feel confident enough to finally publish the whole of the soft leather Lappella collection online.

So this is it…a wearable designer collection that I hope you love from the lightweight top grain butter soft leather to the robust yet chic fittings at affordable high street prices. It feels like the culmination of a lifetime of work and I feel incredibly grateful to be doing exactly what I love. Now I guess I’m excited to say that I think I’m only just beginning .....

Paul Yates