Our names are Michelle and Kate Gilmore and Bessie is an online store located in beautiful Rainbow Beach, Queensland, Australia. We create an eclectic range of bags in contemporary Australian and Japanese fabric. We love retro and authentic vintage fabric gems. Unlike a mass produced industry, each of our bags is an original, and you can see that it is handmade with love and care for girls of all ages.
A family business
Our mother/daughter team have worked hard to launch Bessie for our local art festival in January 2010. Ten year old Kate has helped in purchasing, fabric and pattern selection, label development, design and research. Her speciality is helping create beautiful bags for little girls. We love watching our finds of fabric transform into gorgeous Australian made creations.
Bessie is our namesake
My sewing teacher mum, Pat taught me to sew on my Grandmother Bessie’s singer (pictured). Both Kate and I are named after Bessie, so we felt it was the perfect name for our enterprise. I have always nurtured my fabric stash since making clothes for my Cindy doll in the 70's. Op shopper (that is thrift shop) specialist, Bessie has given me the excuse to flex the shopping muscles more and enjoy rescuing and recycling vintage fabrics.
Bessie bags are made from contemporary, vintage and retro fabrics
Each bag starts with handpicked fabric, lining and notions (buttons, zips, buckles, rings etc). Fabric, zips, buttons and handles are sourced from existing clothing, fabric remnants, discarded scraps and salvaged offcuts and it takes much effort and time to source the best materials.
Most of our fabric have been discovered locally around our beautiful region of the northern Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay in Queensland. Other fabrics and buttons have travelled with me over the years. We have also been unable to resist purchasing material from the rich contemporary array available from both Australian and international designers.
Each Bessie bags is one of a kind
Every one of our Bessie bags is unique with individual detailing. Each style of bag has been selected just for the fabric, some bags were designed around the reclaimed find (see our doily bag). We have invested much energy in finding patterns, adapting patterns, researching to find the perfect bags styles from vintage and contemporary fashion. Inspiration for Bessie designs continues to grow - filling our design board. Most contain co-ordinated i-phone pockets, key holders and are fully lined- with recycled or vintage finds. Creative family and local ladies, Bec, Sarah, Debbie, Judy and Therese all helped christen selected bags to individualise them even more. Hence there is a story to every bag.
The traditional values of recycling and limiting wastage
The Bessie philosophy is one of old values to maximise our limited resources, recycling and giving new life and purpose to beautiful vintage fabrics, doilies and linen. Nothing is wasted- many of the bags are generated from remnants and beautiful salvaged fabrics and vintage clothes. Our offcuts are used to create smaller children's bags, purses, zip pouches. Even tiny fabric scraps are used to personalise your Bessie Bag label or gift vouchers.
A truly family run enterprise, my husband Heatley, an internet marketing specialist has been incredibly supportive and helped launch our online store. Our boys (Kate's brothers Jack, Hugh and Archie all under 12) will ensure that the Bessie range broadens to include more unisex items.
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We hope you enjoy our Bessie experience,
Michelle and Kate