When they met at a reggae festival, BRIE SHINN and ALEX LONGSTAFF never dreamt a few years later they’d not only be fast friends but also firm business partners. They started off with a few leather bags inspired by their travels but it wasn’t long before demand grew and soon they were branching out into shoes, accessories and clothing.

We caught up with this dynamic duo to tell us a bit more about LOKOA.

Tell me a bit about LoKoa.

LoKoa is a collection of unique handmade leather bags, shoes, accessories and clothing inspired by the love of travel, exotic locations and the free spirited woman. Each collection consists of such a diverse colour range comprising of different leather and suedes. We love to deliver high quality, long lasting leather products that are kept at an affordable price for everyone to enjoy and cherish forever!

When did you get started with it? 

Sarah: Alex and I had been friends for a long while after meeting at reggae festival years ago, and talking over coffee about the local fashion scene we discovered that we shared a vision of our ideal leather handbag. We both wanted something unique, stylish and a bit bohemian. I’d had a bag made up for my own personal collection (the Lotus bag) after being inspired by the culture from my travels through Brazil, Argentina and also Bali.  Everyone was wild for it when I brought it back, so I had some more samples made up.  They sold out within a week, Alex came on board officially and we expanded the Lokoa range. With the addition of shoes, wallets and now clothing, our business has accelerated and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

How would you describe the label?

The name Lokoa really encompasses our love of travel, and exotic locations.  We began creating our own dream bags, but quickly realised that every woman has that free spirit in her that wants to explore and express herself in a way unique to her.  Not every woman has the luxury of an exotic escape, so our range of richly coloured bags, accessories and clothing aims to make that bohemian spirit more accessible to everyone.

How would you describe your clothes? 

The Lokoa buyer is a woman who stands out, has a taste for quality and wants to carry a bit of bohemian magic with her every day.  She is a free spirit and isn’t afraid to express herself.

How do you get inspiration?

We’re inspired by our travels (Brazil, Argentina & Bali in particular) and by anything that reminds us of a relaxed island escape. Sometimes it’s a colour, sometimes it’s a word or song or pattern.  But we’re also inspired by practicalities, for instance with our Baya Baby bag. Shopping for my sister’s baby shower I noticed how few bags were representative of the woman, not just the baby. So we created a deep bucket bag with an insert perfect for necessities like bottles and nappies.

How have you found being a designer on the Gold Coast? 

We have found by being here on the Gold Coast and working behind our label, the interaction with our customers at our weekend markets have lead to an extremely large and supportive ongoing following! We have had also had several celebrities spotted with our products too which is exciting!

Where do you hope to go with your label in the future?

We’d love to take Lokoa global. With the rapid growth we’ve enjoyed, who knows how soon that will happen. For now though we are focusing on the short-term and taking care of the loyal customers we have now. We have just recently opened up our own Lokoa Showroom at Rabbit & Cocoon in Miami here on the Gold Coast.

How would you describe you own styles?

We both look to our friends and family for style inspiration. Celebrity fashion trends are gorgeous, no question, but it’s the way the ‘regular’ woman presents herself that gets us excited.  These women create their look, not because people are watching, but because they enjoy it.

Our personal styles are certainly reflected in our designs for Lokoa.  Both of us follow the rule ‘wear what is comfortable, wear what you love’ and that is something we want to promote with Lokoa.

What makes Lokoa handbags different to other brands ?

Lokoa bags aren’t mass-produced.  We take the time to respond directly to our customers’ tastes, sketch out the designs and personally do the legwork to find the materials and manufacturers.  Our bags and accessories are all individually hand made in a range of gorgeous colours, and price our products to be accessible to all women.

You can find LOKOA at THE VILLAGE MARKETS or online at www.lokoa.com.au


Photos: Andrew Place Photography and Lokoa

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