18 June 2014

Q&A Session with British Bag Maker Emma Cornes

On the blog today I have an inspiring Q&A session with a fab British bag maker.

Firstly, tell me a bit about yourself

I’m Emma Cornes. I’m growing our British Bagmaking business that started as a hobby in our spare bedroom in our Cheshire home. We now send bags around the world and it’s a full time job for my husband and I.

Sounds exciting, what is your job within the business?

Everything and anything related to our little business. Everything from the fun bits like designing bags and sourcing amazing materials, to the dull bits like the accounts and cleaning our workshop. I used to make every single bag too, but I started to get far too many grey hairs and just couldn’t keep up so now we get help from a British manufacturer.

You sound like a busy lady, when did you start your business?

Just under two years ago, when I got married.

What made you decide to take the plunge and start your own business?

My bag making journey started when I bought my first sewing machine. I set up my little Singer on the kitchen table and ran off a few hundred metres of bunting for my wedding. Then while visiting family in Scotland’s Tweed valley where I grew up I happened across one of the mills making tweed.

I’m the kind of person who only ever has one bag at a time. It has to work for every occasion. I’d use them until they were threadbare, and then struggle to find a replacement. So I thought maybe I could make the bag I wanted with the tweed I’d found. I guess I probably shouldn’t be a bagmaker!

After watching a few YouTube videos on how to make bags I got started. The first few months were spent making really terrible bags, but then I started to get the hand of things and people liked what I was doing.

Very impressive, what do you love best about working for yourself?

There are so many reasons. The freedom to do what I want. Not having to answer to anyone, no commute, no office politics, only working with people who love what they’re doing too – that’s a really important.

No commute is great, is there anything you don't like about working for yourself?

It can be easy to not see another person, other than my husband for days. I start to feel a bit like I’m living in a bubble. Now I make the effort to leave the house more often – having a puppy helps!

Looking back is there anything you’d do differently?

I’d have got help with manufacture sooner. I hadn’t realised how much toll making every bag was having on me and the business. If I’d handed it over sooner I’d have had much more time to do the fun stuff that actually helps sell more bags.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about starting their own business?

If you think you’ve got a good idea, don’t spend too much time agonising over it. Find a way to test it out on your target market – make up some samples and get out there.

Make sure you get the right people to help you with your visual identity from the start (stuff like your logo and how everything looks). First impressions count. 

Websites – I’ve seen so many people fall down here. There are good web developers who listen to what you want and build it, but there seem to be lots of not so good ones out there. You need to be really clear about what you want. Get a recommendation from someone who already has a good business website. Make sure you draw a wireframe of what you want where and create a of map of how you want someone to use it and what the outcome should be.

Thank you Emma for a wonderful insight into the running of your business, it was super interesting and an inspiration to anyone out there thinking about starting there own business.

About Emma Cornes bags

Emma Cornes bags are made in Britain using the very best British fabrics. Emma takes inspiration from the landscapes that inspire the Scottish estate tweeds that she’s best known for using. As well as striking designs, her bags include details inspired by how people really use their bags – whether that’s using waterproof canvas for the liner or the range of handy pockets on the inside.


You can only buy them at or at the handful of shows Emma visits each year.

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