It is people like Josef Selway and Grace Hurworth that inspire others to follow their dreams. It was a serendipitous meeting over a corporate office water cooler in 2013 that bought these like minded creatives together. Not only did a romance blossom, but a new business idea did too. Sharing a love for creative arts, craftsmanship and leather, in late 2013 they opened their online store BlueandGrae.
Their long traditional leather apron designs have garnered both a national and international following, attracting tattoo artists, barbers and various stylists alike. And its not hard to see why. Like a magical cape, their aprons not only protect the wearer, but transform them into a readily identifiable skilled craftsperson. Quality is key, which it is evident in all their pieces. Full grained Australian bovine leather and thick waxed canvas cloth features double stitching. Sturdy cross over shoulder straps connect to brass rivets, and solid brass button closures provide extra strength and hold for all manner of tools of the trade. Their bag designs too are attractively pared back, showcasing the beauty of the leather grain with subtle and simple adornments.
So what lies in the future for this creative pair? Whilst Josef, a geologist and Grace, a medical administrator are currently juggling full-time jobs in addition to running BlueandGrae, their dream of taking their creative endeavours full-time is well on its way to become a reality. Read on to learn what inspires Josef and where he hopes to takes their business next (and some Brisbane based workshops they are planning!).
How did you both meet and when did the idea to start Blue and Grae happen? Blue and Grae started to happen pretty early on in our relationship really – but at the time we probably didn’t realise it. When we first met we were both working at a large multinational. Soon after our first chat we realised that our creativity and our need to be creative was something that we shared. Watercooler chats turned into a constant stream of inspiration sharing, stories and ideas of creative pursuits. It was obvious that we shared similar tastes and both really valued the honesty of handmade items – A year or so later Grae challenged Blue to start making some of our leathery ideas and Blue&Grae was born.
Where do you draw your inspirations for your designs? Inspirations can be abstract sometimes so it’s not always apparent what inspires a specific product but often we will have been mulling over an idea in our heads for months before pen meets paper or before anything actually sees a needle and thread. The way we have seen some folded paper might influence the design of a particular seam, or we might draw upon some of the shapes and proportions of buildings or furniture that we have seen throughout our adventures. One thing is consistent though is that we always try to whittle our designs down to their bare essentials – We share a pretty minimalist vision when it comes to leatherwork designs.
You source all your leather from Australia. Why is this important to you? The absurdity of Australian animal skins being sent abroad to be tanned only to be sold back to Australian producers and consumers is mind boggling to us. Therefore we only use leather from Australian tanneries that use Australian skins – All of the leather that we use is full grain – That is to say the top most layer of skin is present in its entirety – no sanding down to remove scars and wrinkles. The story of the animal and its environment is clear to see in the finished leather that we use, and that’s the way we believe it should be.
Who has been buying your creations? We sell most of our work online so we have a worldwide audience, however it is fantastic to see that more and more of our products are being purchased in Australia. We sell aprons to all manner of craftsmen and women, bartenders, hair stylists, barbers, barista’s and jewellers whilst our bags and accessories go to a wider audience still.
What lies ahead for Blue and Grae in 2016? 2016 has been, and looks to be a very exciting year for Blue&Grae. Our workshop is groaning with beautiful leather and our range is expanding nice and organically as we get around to testing each new item thoroughly and working on new ideas. We have some cool tripod chairs coming soon that have been a labour of love for a while now. Other than that we recently debuted our teaching skills in partnership with Vieille Branche (a concept shop/learning space in Albion) and we have our next leather belt making workshop coming up in July.