Insider Look: How I Design With You in Mind

Inside look: Regina Bauman working on sketches for a new leather bag design.

Stage One: Finding Inspiration

I sit down at a clean wooden table, in a comfortable chair in a lovely bright office. I sip a latte from my #girlboss coffee cup as inspirations start flowing. Usually, as soon as I pick up a pencil and put it to my adorable, little sketch pad, I get hit with brilliance.

NOT.

People ask me what inspires the designs at Urban Southern, and sometimes I’m not sure how to answer that. Do they expect me to say something brilliant? Some days design feels brilliant, and other days it feels murky and uncertain.

Design often happens in the little, unseen moments for me. Those small moments of feeling deeply, of savoring a moment, of touching inspiration as it whisks by in a flurry of meaning.

I see a gorgeous snapshot on IG and feel the beauty that the texture of leather would bring to that moment.

Leather bags, designed by Regina Bauman, sitting on the table.

Pinterest sucks me in with pins like Brown Butter Banana Bread with Creamy Apple and Rum Pecan Sauce, and soon I’m scrolling through fashion pins, looking for style inspiration. Then I see a happy smile on a dark haired girl wearing ripped jeans and a comfortably soft white top and carrying a slouchy leather bag. “I could make something that looks simple and yet fashion forward that is also practical,” I think. “And add a pocket here, and a touch of brass hardware would really look great.”

Creating designs also happens in the more mundane, the daily practicalities of life that we all walk in. I’m fumbling my way through the checkout process at the grocery store, and I think, “Wouldn’t a small wallet, with a crossbody straps that don’t need constant hand-holding, work well for this shopping trip when I just need to pick up pumpkins and yogurt and milk?”

The inspiration to take fresh, whole foods and turn them into deliciously tasty and luxurious dishes is swirling in my brain, and I think, “Wouldn’t an oversize tote, with stylishly formed handles, be just perfect for ambling through tables of produce and buckets of flowers at a farmer’s market?”

Stage Two: Ideate a Working Prototype

Regina Bauman working on sketches for a new bag design.

Detailed insider look at new bag design.

Designing a new bag design for everyday use.

The inspiration settles, and I follow it for a few days. Sometimes it’s immediately detailed, and sometimes it takes weeks, or months until it forms into a coherent image.

When Ruby and I stand at the well-marked wooden work table in the leather shop, and I show her my sketch she immediately starts looking at all the ways possible to make full-grain leather look like my vision. Sometimes it’s not possible, and I have to tweak the inspiration, which takes more inspiration. Sometimes we decide it’s possible to add a pocket. Or she tells me she found a better way to put the big brass ring on the bag. She cuts out a few pieces, measures again and again, and asks me how wide it’s supposed to be.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Just wide enough?”

“But do you want the strap ½ inch or ¾ inch?” Ruby asks.

“Design isn’t supposed to be hard! Let’s try it with ¾ inch straps first.”

Ruby measures again, cuts again, and stitches away. We look at the finished product and search for imperfections. Should it be bigger? Smaller? More simple? Would that ring make it easier to carry? She continually finds better solutions, more practical applications for the details I want to add. Her expertise and experienced ideas influence and shape the final product as much as my original inspiration.

Working on a leather bag design in the leather shop with Ruby.

Stage Three: a Leather Bag That Simply Fits Everyday Life

Quality inspires me.. The elegance of simplicity is an art — simple luxuries such as sinking into my cotton sheets and pulling the smooth linen duvet up under my chin at night. I love walking into my front door and feeling the rough texture of a jute rug under my feet. I can’t wait to serve myself yogurt and berries for breakfast in my pottery bowl with the whimsical little spout. I find joy in using a real wooden spoon to stir a thick, chunky chili with the spicy smelling steam curling up into my face. I relax on the couch and reach for my cozy woven throw, and I feel the peace of a life curated simply with real joy and love.

A relaxing space inspires beautiful, well functioning designs such as Regina's living room.

I love a life that feels authentic, that is real. I search for quality and simplicity in my very real life every day. As I stop by the coffee shop and pull a few dollar bills out of my real leather wallet, I savor the ease of its quiet motion. As I walk through the airport on my way to somewhere new, I enjoy the simplicity of my oversize leather tote that can handle books, a scarf, and some snacks as it also styles my outfit. I sit on my front porch rocker and breathe in the early evening air, the warmth of leftover sunshine, the whiff of freshly cut grass, and I luxuriate for a moment in the serene quality of nature. I savor my chai tea topped with rich foam and a hint of spice as my children cuddle up to me with their bead, tangled hair and their sleepy looks — I feel the quiet peace of a morning moment within the chaos of school schedules and to do lists.

I look for the full moments, laden with small pleasures. I feel like raindrops on roses and bright copper kettles all together with a flickering candle and slow weekends is a life I want to live everyday.

I want someone to savor the texture of their real leather bag fully. I want customers to find joy in living a full life with their real leather bag. I want to think of someone loving the motion of sliding a lip gloss and a compact into their Half Moon clutch as they excitedly prepare for an evening out with a date. I want to think of a mom carrying her baby to the car and enjoying the stylish ease of her real leather Regina Tote swinging from her shoulder. I love imagining a lively girl who likes to wear colorful florals putting a carefully wrapped book into her Urban Tote and gifting the book to a friend over coffee and chats. I picture an adventurous woman excitedly packing her Market Tote with walking shoes, books, and a camera as she prepares to fly to Europe for the trip of a lifetime.

This is what inspires the designs behind Urban Southern.

Regina reaches for the Heritage Saddlebag, a design from our Spring Collection.

Regina Bauman works on designing a new leather bag with you in mind.

8 Comments

  1. Kay Harwood on November 15, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Good Morning Regina,
    I just woke up and getting my day started….That’s not ALWAYS easy because at 75 yrs old I have to work at it.. Your thoughts about life made me feel so good this morning….Not only can you design…you can put words together to make others minds and hearts go to a place of Comfort….I live in Waterloo Iowa…which has a Tannery. This morning ..I just want to go get some leather and make something……JUST KIDDING! I grew up on a farm and the smell of leather is stimulating …just like great coffee… So thank you for getting my Wednesday started off good…….Take Care…..Kay Harwood

    • Regina Bauman on November 15, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Hi Kay,
      Thank you so much for the sweet compliment! I love hearing that you enjoyed my writing. And I’m totally with you on the smell of leather – there’s nothing quite like it! Thanks for coming by our site, and happy Wednesday to you:)

    • Betty miller on November 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Kay said so well what I was thinking! No times for blues today going home get the diffuser going & feel inspired! God bless! And Regina you’re dad & mom have been at r house many times when r son was at boys camp – special people – therefore I already know you’re special! & Ruby was my daughters chief @camp:)

      • Regina Bauman on November 25, 2017 at 9:25 am

        Betty, it’s so nice to meet someone that knows my family! Ruby so enjoyed her time at Girls Camp, and now she makes all our leather bags:) Thank you for connecting with US! – Regina

  2. Lucille Horst on November 21, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Regina, you are such an inspiration to me! I feel privileged to know you personally and see that just a common, everyday girl can have so much underlying talent. You have shown how hard work and a dream can get you places that you never thought possible. And seeing your beautiful smiling face is proof that you have a special kind of peace that only God can give. Keep up the great work!

    • Regina Bauman on November 21, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Hi Lucille,
      It means so much to hear you say that! You’re so right, dreams can take you places you never thought you would go:) Thank you for all your support, it means more than you know. Hope to see you at a football party soon:) – Regina

  3. Jennie z on November 23, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    You inspire me very much! Enjoy your fb live etc. Love your designs and your sweet personality. Loved this post!

    • Regina Bauman on November 25, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Thank you Jennie! We have a lot of fun with our FB lives, and I’d love to hear from you next time on there! -Regina

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