JULIE SEXTON – Founder of Fashion Brand Aruku

You’re the founder of fashion brand Aruku, could you tell us more about the brand and its concept?
To be honest it all started with a thought. Or perhaps more a frustration. A frustration with a fashion industry that only cares about what’s on the outside. And from that small frustration grew a big idea.

We launched with our leather backpack which is beautifully designed both inside and out, with style, comfort and practicality in mind. With padded laptop and tablet sleeves, an easy access phone pocket and a spacious interior, as well as a key holder and comfortable padded straps, our backpacks are the one bag you need to see you through your day. To create a company where style and beauty combines with practicality to make women’s lives a little easier. We believe in the possibility of creating beautiful products that meet the needs of your every day, from early morning gym visits, to work, to dinner with friends.

Will you solely be focusing on backpacks and if so how do you feel you’ll evolve with changing trends?
As much as we love the practicality of backpacks we think there’s scope to broaden our range to cover different types of bags. No matter what we create in the future, they will always stay true to our core values of being ‘beautifully practical’ and embracing slow, sustainable fashion.

The fact the backpacks are designed with practicality in mind is brilliant, how do you incorporate customer feedback into your designs?
The benefits of being a direct to consumer brand is we get to speak to our customers all the time. We recently exhibited at Stylist Live, where we got the opportunity to speak to hundreds of our target consumers. Based on their feedback we’re currently prototyping a smaller version of our backpack that will fit a 13” laptop of smaller (our current backpacks fit up to a 15” laptop).

Did you face any difficulties entering the backpack market? if so how did you deal with them?
Where we have faced difficulties is getting the product in front of our target consumers, which is definitely the biggest challenge for any direct to consumer brand. However we have seen fantastic traction through word of mouth recommendations and the feedback from customers has really blown us away.

What are your three top tips on tackling an Aruku creative project?
1)We ensure that our core values of combining beauty with functionality is at the heart of everything we create.
2)flexibility is really important. Designs on paper don’t always translate well into leather so we need to be prepared to adapt and evolve our designs at every stage of the process.
3)Be tenacious when it comes to bringing a design to life. Sometimes a ‘no’, can be turned into a yes with a few challenging questions!