Over the past 5 months we’ve had the opportunity to really slow down and reevaluate and reconnect with so many things—family, friends, work, even fashion. With this natural slowing down, it’s made us really think about how and what we are purchasing. That is why we are so happy to have found true “slow fashion” pioneer, Tree Fairfax. Helmed by Tricia Fairfax Hash and located in Virginia, this accessory brand hand makes beautiful handmade leather goods in chic shapes and classic natural colors that are simple and meant for “going lightly.” We got to thinking: Tree’s bags truly are fit for these times—leaving the house now requires not only mental fortitude, but also in Tricia’s words “no restrictions or heaviness.” Keeping that in mind, lightening up with a bag that fits only the essentials just seems smart.
Things are a little different right now, we’re in an unprecedented time…where are you getting inspiration from and how are you staying motivated these days?
I am getting inspiration from all of the protestors and young people out there fighting against racism. I am inspired by those that still have to go to work during a pandemic, friends that are single parents finding creative ways to keep their kids busy during these weird times that we are living in. What motivates me to work harder is seeing my mother go to work during a pandemic while having an autoimmune disease and take care of the elderly, while putting her life at risk because she has too. I’m motivated to work harder so that she doesn’t have to.
Speaking of, what are you wearing in quarantine? What’s your daily uniform? Are you still accessorizing with your leather goods?
Workout clothes and never actually working out. My new accessory is my mask, I now have a collection of them in my home and vehicle. I always carry my leather handbag when I leave my home.
Tree Fairfax takes a different approach to manufacturing—from the initial leather cutting to the simple finishing stitches. What made you take this made-to-order approach?
Slow fashion, one person, two hands, creating a piece at a time. Honestly this approach came out of necessity, I am self taught and used what I had around me to create. I did not have the money to purchase big machines, I worked full time as a medical biller during the day (left that job December 2018) and sewed at night. I could not afford to waste money and I had to use as much of the leather hide as possible and out of this became my process. I try to cut back on waste and incorporate the natural flaws from each hide into my handbags, each piece is hand cut and sewn by me. That hand stitch is so beautiful to me and it takes time. There are so many little detailed steps that go into each bag. Nothing is made ahead of time, all made to order with love.
You often speak of “going light(ly)” with your bags….we love that sentiment. Are you designing with a particular person in mind? Urban? On the go? Minimalist?
I like to move around lightly, no restrictions or heaviness. I like to keep everything easy and kind of out of my way when I am out and about. So I created my minimal bags because I wanted something that would make my life easier. I know my half moon bags are not for everyone, they put a limit on what you carry in them, just the essentials. I also created a tote bag for those that want to carry a little more items with them as well. I also kept in mind that not every person is the same, we are all unique and we need options when it comes to handbag straps. I wear a size 14 and I have broad shoulders. I need a longer strap for my handbag to fit my body shape, so I offer several length options because one size does not fit all.
Belts are so often overlooked when it comes to accessories— we love how your offering is neutral and classic. Are you a big belt person? How did you land on the palette and size / shape?
I love a good belt, classic, simple and something that will last and go with everything. I like a minimal look, refined and does the job.
Who are your style muses?
I love to look back at my mother’s old photos, she has always been really stylish, creative with her clothes and accessories. She would take a wrap belt from her dress and tie it to her straw hat to make her outfit pop. I love that!
Who was your last Zoom / Facetime with?
My last Zoom was with my “Good Judys”, these are beyond my friends, a sisterhood. We got on a Zoom to see each other’s faces, laugh, talk shit and catch up.
What are some of your daily particulars that you always put on (jewelry, accessories…etc.)?
These days I always put on my mask and I have to wear my large hoop earrings, those are a must!
What’s next on the horizon for you and the brand?
I have been so blessed to do what I love and get paid for it. I am thankful that my son Isaiah, who is coming on board to work with me full time, as this will help to be able to continue to grow my business. Also my daughter, Taylor is helping me with the marketing and visual content. It’s becoming a family affair and this will give me the time to work on new bag ideas and leather home decor pieces I want to offer. My main thing is to stay present, enjoy each day and be thankful for the journey.