Art

Interview with Leah Seelye, Owner of Burst into Bloom

Leah Seeyle Owner and designer of Burst into Bloom is creating unique handmade wax cotton & canvas bags, totes, purses, clutches, just to name a few. It all started when she was on the hunt for a perfect bag several years ago. Her creativity  has lead her to design a product that has a unique style for everyday wear.

Tell us about Burst into Bloom?

Burst into Bloom is a small business run by myself and my husband. We design, make and wax cotton & canvas bags, totes, purses, clutches, etc.

How long has Burst into Bloom been in business?

We have been in business for almost two years so far.

How did you discover your talent for creating hand-waxed canvas bags? When did it start?

I had been on the hunt for “the perfect bag” for several years at this point and knew that I wanted a waxed canvas bag. This is because they’re durable, stain-resistant and water-resistant. I was unable to find a bag that was unique enough to fit my tastes so I had my generous friend Summer help me refresh on sewing. I could not find information online for waxing canvas, so I taught myself. It was very finicky and took me over half a year to get it to a point where I was happy with it. My husband Cody does all of the waxing now.

What makes Burst into Bloom unique?

I think it is several things: The prints I use are very carefully curated by myself in order to fit a specific style and the product itself is unique. Very few people sell or make hand-waxed canvas bags on a larger scale, so I feel like I have found a market that I love being a part of and can succeed in.

What is your work space like?

My work space is bright and sunny and rarely clean. I have an entire room in our home as a studio. It consists of a desk against the window with my laptop and all of my papers, notebooks, etc. I have a large table surface where all of the sewing is done. In the center of the room I have a tall island specifically for cutting fabric. I also converted a closet space into extra storage and an ironing table, which is constantly being used. Of course the walls are decorated with prints and handmade pieces from my favorite people. I have a special needs bunny Fig that lives in my studio so there’s always a happy little furball running around and begging for pets.

What do you love most about creating hand-waxed canvas bags?

I love that there’s a useful end product from the labor. I love things that are pretty to look at but love even more things that are pretty and functional.

Where did you get your inspiration from?

I got a lot of my inspiration from Southwestern themes and shapes.

How would you describe your signature look and what is it about your style that sets you apart from other designers?

I would say that it comes down to the style of prints that I use. I use southwestern or floral prints and try to remain relevant in that style. The thing that sets my bags apart is the look after it’s waxed. It almost has a leather look and feel on the fabric.

Does Burst into Bloom have a mission statement?

In this age of ‘digital’, we are craving something to hold, to feel and something to connect with. We are passionate about hand-making products and sharing them with others in order to make a handmade connection with each customer or gift recipient. We genuinely believe that buying local and buying handmade is vital to building up a community that helps and supports each other. This will always remain the heart behind Burst into Bloom.

What is your creative process like? Do you have your own favorite bag from your line?

My creative process is fairly simple. I’ll often sit down with a notebook and pen and start sketching a design. I then get up and try cutting pieces and putting them together without a pattern. After I discover what works and what doesn’t, i’ll draft a pattern and write down measurements. My favorite bag is the Wanderer Crossbody, but I have a feeling it will soon be the Weekender that we are releasing very soon. I can’t get enough of it so far!

Who are some people that have inspired you throughout your business?

Oh goodness-this is a difficult question because I have so many inspirations aside from my creative husband. My biggest inspiration is Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Company. I’ve been watching her and her husband’s business grow since they were just a small paper company. She has so much integrity and works so hard to be where she is. She has the ability to adapt to what works for her business and set aside what does not. I also look to April Rhodes as a style leader. She has designed many of the prints that I use on our bags and is multi-talented as an artist. She is constantly sharing pictures from the classes that she takes. It shows me that you must always be learning and growing on a personal and professional level. She inspires me daily to stretch myself. Last but not least is Danielle Spurge-Swavely, who has a very successful handmade business and has created classes and a community for makers/business owners to come together and support each other. She’s constantly sharing her wisdom in order to help others grow.

What kind of person has a Burst into bloom waxed-canvas hand bag?

Our bags are for everyday wear. My customer is a college student, a mom, a professional, an artist, a nomad, anybody.

Do you do marketing for your business?

I do my own marketing. Instagram is hands-down my best marketing tool. It allows me to be a real human behind the business and connect with my beautiful customers.

What resources have you used in Lansing to get Burst into Bloom going?

Let’s be honest. Coffee. I pretty much lived at Strange Matter and now Bloom Coffee Roasters while researching, reading, learning and writing customers. It’s so important to get out of the studio, drink a great coffee and see other people on a fairly regular basis. I’ve been able to network and connect with other creatives and business owners and share/learn in the Lansing area. I also have sought a lot of business advice from Chris and Melissa Allen, who own Tinkr Lab. They’re never out of ideas and never too busy to help me out when I don’t understand how to do something on the business end.

How are people aware of your business?

I get a lot of local exposure through doing craft shows such as DIYpsi in Ypsilanti and Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Otherwise, Etsy is a great platform for helping people find handmade products.

Do you have any upcoming shows/events?

We will be doing a lot of shows this summer and fall, so stay tuned on Facebook and Instagram to find out where we will be next!

What do you like to do in Lansing when not working on Burst into Bloom?

I love to shop locally in Old Town, grab a cup of coffee at Bloom Coffee Roasters with my husband and walk along the river.

Website: www.burstintobloom.com

Instagram: @burstintobloomco

Facebook: facebook.com/burstintobloomco

Email: leah@burstintobloom.com

About the Author

Ashlee R. Willis is the founder of Lansing Mosaic. Her mission is to help highlight small businesses and entrepreneurial partnerships in the Lansing and surrounding areas.

Twitter: @ashleewillis100

Email: Ashlee@LansingMosaic.com

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