Thursday, August 13, 2015

Women we Love: Kate Huling of Marlow Goods + new arrivals

We’re completely obsessed with the elegant-meets-sturdy aesthetic and ethical production behind Marlow Goods’ last-a-lifetime leather bags. We sat down with Kate Huling — owner, designer, mom of four and serious foodie — to talk about the inspirations behind the collection … and get some culinary inspiration along the way.

+ What was the impetus for starting Marlow Goods?
My husband Andrew and I own several restaurants in Brooklyn [Diner, Marlow & Sons, Roman’s and Reynard, among others] and we source ingredients from all over the Northeast. We purchase whole animals directly from a handful of "grass-farmers" — so named because the basis of healthy livestock is healthy soil and grass — and we use every bit of each animal, from the tongue to the tendon.

I had fallen in love with leatherwork after a visit to custom sandal maker Barbara Shaum's leather studio in the East Village in 1999. My friend Dillen was a leather master there. At that same time, Mona from A Détacher was opening her Nolita store and wanted to collaborate. Andrew and I had a loft on the south side of Williamsburg, and Dillen and I set up a studio there, making leather satchels for Mona. Then Dillen was hired to work for Michael Kors, I got pregnant, our restaurants were taking off, and our leather business lost steam. Almost 10 years later, we had this beautiful Eureka moment when we realized we could simultaneously get the leather dream back on track and also use the only part of the whole animals that we weren’t already using for the restaurants—the skins—and preserve them for decades to come.  

+ How are the bags made?
I work directly with my farmer and friend, Lee Ranney of Kinderhook Farm in Kinderhook, NY, and Debbie Ball from Eaglebridge Meat and Smokehouse. Debbie stores the hides and preserves them, then has them shipped to Montgomery, NY, where they are tanned by R.E. Meyer and Sons. I work very closely with them on quality, color, weight and quantity. Next they are shipped to our leather studio in Union City, NJ, where they are cut, sewn and finished. 

+ What’s your design process?
I design everything based on what I see my friends and family dreaming of to help them carry everything they need. Friends and customers come to me with ideas and I make sketches and then we try them out. We are constantly tweaking things to make them easier and better: small MetroCard pockets, longer straps, bigger, smaller ... I design as I go, sketching on the subway or on a restaurant menu. I love every part of the process, from visiting the beautiful animals and the farmers who care so much about them, to seeing a happy customer with a worn-in bag that I made 8 years ago. 

+ What were the inspirations behind your fall collection?
Vintage Coach, for sure! We had Mario Batali's wife, who is the daughter of the Coach family, come into one of our restaurants, and we were both missing the classic, sturdy shapes and styles so much!
+ Food is so important to your family. What are some of your favorite meals? 
In the summer, we eat out every weeknight when we are in the city. On weekends, we cook on our South American-style grill in Long Island: whole fish with salsa verde, grilled onions, squid, huge salads, tzatziki, roasted beets, crispy new potatoes and ice cream sundaes for dessert. All the kids love to cook, but our eldest son is now 14 and can really wield a knife, smoke chickens, grill steaks — it is a total dream to see him at the grill with my husband. Back home in the fall, we have a big wood-burning grill fireplace in our backyard and we make zataar-rubbed, spatchcocked chickens; roasted squash; cicerchie purée; yogurt ... you get the picture. We live for cooking and enjoying food with big groups of family and friends. 

+ What would you consider your wardrobe essentials? How do you dress it up for a night out? 
I wear dresses every day, all year round. They make me feel feminine and put together — I love color and patterns. I usually go straight from day to night without a trip home, so if I’m going out, I wear a pretty shoe and ditch my large leather bag for a smaller clutch. 


 Credit: @ullajohnson Instagram

+ What are your favorite Instagram accounts right now?
Yours of course! And one of my best friends, @ullajohnson, has a top-notch feed. Her trip to Ibiza was breathtaking. I also always appreciate @jjmartinmilan — it’s so fun to see Milanese life.

+ Favorite recent discovery?
I've been loving Ratatat recently!

+ Favorite or dream vacation destination? 
We want to go to Turkey next summer. There are so many different voices in our family that it’s always a relief when we can agree on a destination. I really want to see the cities carved out of stone, and of course the water, the food and Istanbul.

+ Who is your style icon? 
I lived in Brittany for a year in high school with a family, and my French mother, Marie Odile, made all her own clothes. Every day I channel her! “Never in fashion, and always in fashion.”

+ What's on your personal wish list for fall?
A trip to Paris with Andrew, just the two of us. It’s gonna happen. 

Thanks so much to interviewer Kat Johnson and Kate Huling for taking time out of their busy schedules! xx, M

Lots of new arrivals from Caron Callahan, Apiece Apart, Ace & Jig
Objects Without Meaning, Martiniano, NSF and more are here! Check them out...
New Studio Hours for August 1-15th:
Mon - thurs 11-3, closed FRI-SUN
316 W 48th St 
Minneapolis, MN 55419

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