Our trader of the month is leather-worker Justine Weyman from Elytra England. Justine creates accessories in soft leather and felt, from tablet cases to artists’ tool rolls, which are designed with care and attention for the contents inside. This month Justine chats to us about her practice, trading at markets and how she came up with the name for her business.

Hi Justine! Tell us a bit about your work…
I design and make leather, suede and textile accessories for my business Elytra England.

Elytra are the outer wing cases of beetles. I was an entomologist of sorts a long time ago and the name Elytra fitted well with the leather iPad cases I started off making – hence my business name Elytra England.

I use a lot of natural colours of leather and like to contrast these with vibrant suedes. I’ve always been very interested in the natural world and draw a lot of inspiration from the colours you can find there.

Why did you choose to come and trade at the Frome Independent?
Before moving to Frome nearly 4 years ago, I’d heard lots about the market and how good it was and could see this for myself when I moved here. There’s a really good selection of interesting designers and makers plus excellent food stalls and a bustling flea market. There’s such a good atmosphere on market day, I’m really happy to be part of it.

What are the benefits to selling directly to the public at markets?
I work from home and sell on-line as well as at the market.  It’s really important to have direct contact with customers, they can see the person behind the business and understand the process and work that goes into each product. I often receive valuable feedback from people that I might not otherwise get.  It’s especially nice to have positive comments! People often take cards and contact me after the market and it’s really nice to deal with people you’ve had face to face contact with previously.

Tell us about your favourite / best-selling product and the work that goes into creating it.
I make little leather desk trays lined with coloured suede (for coins and keys etc…) and these have been really popular with customers. Suede and leather zipper cases also sell really well. I recently became a dog owner and have started making collars and leads and have had lots of interest in these. Where possible I source materials from suppliers and manufacturers in the UK. I carefully select the vegetable tanned leather and suede and cut the designs by hand. I mainly use an industrial sewing machine, but also finish off some products by hand-stitching. Each product is handmade by me in Frome.

Tell us about another designer / producer who inspires you and your work?
Wow, there are so many amazing designers/ producers. I’m really drawn to colour.  I love the work of the interior designer Hans Blomquist – his use of colour is a real inspiration to me.  More locally I really like the work of Clare Lloyd (Colour Designs) – she uses beautiful colour combinations and her jewellery is gorgeous.

Thanks Justine! You can find Elytra in Market Place on Sunday 1st October, or check out her collection online here.