Who Am I?
My name is Sara Christie and I have had a love affair with classic style and fashion ever since I can remember.
Heavily influenced by my upbringing, dressing well was seen more as a sense of pride rather than dressing in the latest looks and trends.
My Father Fred
Respectability and Self-importance
My Jamaican Grandma Speedy and my Grandad Maestro met and worked in Kingston Jamaica, her as a seamstress and him a Tailor.
They came to England in 1951 on the Queen’s invite to start a new life in the UK.
Along with many others, they bought with them hopes, dreams, and of course a distinct sense of pride.
This was echoed loudly in their style and dress.
The women looked feminine and strong and the men smart and important.
I was always told to “Luk fi yuh bess an hole fi yuh head high’
A Mothers Love
As a white woman married to a black man in the 1970’s my mum didn’t want to be seen or labeled as brash, brazen, or easy (and that’s a polite description!). Social acceptance and social stigma were always on her radar. She was a nurse and took real pride in what she did and worked long shifts to earn her money, but she always made sure to dress my sister Clare and I in good quality clothes that she was proud of and we felt good in. She allowed us to try the latest trends so we felt young, fresh, and fitted in with our peers. But most importantly, she instilled a real sense of pride in how we looked, felt, and stepped out in the world!
Me & my sister Clare
My mother Angie
A likkle sup'm special
When I was 14 years old, my first Saturday job as a waitress saw me save my little pay packet each week to buy myself something special. I had my eye on a beautifully cut chiffon blouse that had feminine pintuck details. I fell in love with the quality, attention to detail, and the many ways I could wear it. I knew I would have to save for weeks, but it would definitely be worth the wait. I enjoyed saving every penny for that blouse, and best of all was the gratifying elated feeling once the transaction was made and I owned it.
I felt so chic in my new blouse. I looked after it, cherished it, and felt an enormous sense of achievement and reward.
As a 14-year-old girl, I can't imagine I was the targeted audience for such a style, but in my mind's eye, I looked feminine and felt very much like a star.
1998 - 2001
Stepping Up & Stepping Out
I studied for a Fashion Design degree at Nottingham Trent University and in my final year, I lost my father Fred. It was devastating and heart-wrenching but somehow propelled me to work even harder because I really wanted him to feel proud of his baby girl. Pride was playing a huge part in my determination to fulfill my aspirations and dreams yet again.
My final collection saw me look deeper into the Windrush era. Fashion for the first Windrush generation was a means of respectability and self-importance, a way to rise above the stereotype.
I explored the hope and popping style of the Caribbean people: men and women arriving in Britain in search of a better life, dressed in an assortment of clothes, and many wearing dazzling designs.
In my designs, I put all of this color, life, and pride against the hard, grey concrete backdrop of post-war Britain.
Into the High Street
After a false start as a pattern cutter, I quickly realised, it wasn’t the job for me! I quickly sought out a new position as a clothing designer in a large company, where I gained exposure to large high street brands. I got to see for myself how the buyers, suppliers, and designers all worked together. It was so exciting seeing my ideas becoming reality and popping up in high street stores. For a young 23-year-old woman like me, this was such a formative and exciting time
In India: Kindness + Business
Next, work took me to India to set up a design studio + showroom and I saw first hand the processes of design and manufacturing. I also gained an all-important understanding of the other side of fashion that we don’t normally see for ourselves, that is the time and the care that goes into sampling, sourcing, and meeting the buyer’s expectations. The buyers want the best price and although I was answerable to them, I made it of paramount importance to ensure that the manufacturer’s small profit line was protected. My time spent here taught me the essential values of kindness, partnership, and friendship in business. Process, time, and cost: without these values business has no joy or purpose at all.
Into the West First Class
During my time in India, I had gained extensive experience in embellishment design ( and specifically beading and embroidery ) which was so relevant and on-trend at the time. This paved the way for me to join the retail side of fashion as an assistant designer for handbags and accessories on my return to the west.
L.A. New York, Paris, Milan, Hong Kong. I traveled to cities around the globe for inspiration at trade shows and shopping. I loved it!
I was treated extremely well, traveled first class, and stayed in the best hotels (which was my dream of fashion at that age). It was here that I found my love of designing handbags and accessories and I eventually climbed the ranks to become a Design Manager for all accessories ( swimwear, hosiery, shoes, bags, jewellery) for a large well known UK high street brand.
By this time, fashion was getting faster, cheaper, and more reactive. Time and consideration for quality and design were being compromised, as manufacturers were being driven down on their price in favor of volume. Selling in large numbers was the priority, pushing down prices and ultimately squeezing manufacturers on their margins. This really jarred with me, as I understood what that meant for them in reality. I was falling out of love with the constant demands for newness and the six seasons expectations. Yes, this is a real thing on the high street, not four but six seasons!
Bag Lady: Independence day
Ultimately, this sparked my decision to leave the high street in 2017 and set up seven design & consultancy. Offering a bespoke package that included Trend, Design, sampling, and manufacturing. This saw me be involved in every stage of the process, which in turn created the time and space for me to think of my
designing my own collection of handbags and accessories.
My inspiration and motivation would be designs that were timeless in character and quality and elevated from seasonality and fast fashion. I decided that seasonless simplicity, versatility, and style should be at the very core of my brand.
Less is more.
Mint velvet bags designed & delivered by me
The Time Is Now
Lockdown provided time and space to think about what really matters. It's been a huge year of decision-making for me, for many across the globe, and perhaps for you too.
Changes. Debate. Reflection. Recognition. Realisation. Resetting.
For me personally, the Black life’s matters movement, a surprise second pregnancy, and the beginnings of the By Sara Christie brand have been my priorities and the things that have taken so much of my focus and attention.
The time is now for me to be brave and bold and so my new journey has begun.
And it started with a chain reaction...
Sourcing a perfect statement chain that was the right price, without sacrificing on quality, was proving difficult and unsuccessful. So I made a decision to create my own (I had been designing them for high street brands for over 15 years after all!)
Selecting the right chain design, size, weight, and finish was exciting.
And I did it. I made my first chunky necklace and matching bracelet.
It was beautiful. I LOVED It. I had created the perfect statement piece I had been looking for.
I felt so proud I had a small order made up for me + my friends and shared them on Instagram. Soon my followers were enquiring if they could order one too.
Clearly, I wasn't the only one looking for the perfect, knock out statement piece!
I had more made up. They sold out. I had more made up. They sold out too.
The #chainreaction has begun.
This was the catalyst that sparked my creativity and the courage to start my own handbag collection. I was always asked by family, friends, clients, and colleagues ‘When will you design your own collection, Sara?’ And I would always reply ‘Someday’
But I was never sure when.
That is, until now.
I am excited to share with you my first handbag collection.
A small collection.
Handbags that are stand out. Stylish. Functional. Desirable. Seductive
For work. To network.
For socialising. With swag in your step.
To feel confident. To make a style statement.
Beautiful, sensual, practical statement pieces made with luxury soft touch leathers, that you will want to have, hold, love and cherish for many years to come.
Designed+Delivered by me to you.