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Anya Hindmarch - the bag lady
by Wong Li Za

COUNTLESS books have been written about how to thrive as a working mother. One thing's for sure - there is no one formula that fits all - it's about finding the right balance for each woman.

For award-winning accessories designer Anya Hindmarch, making to-do lists, going for a massage and being a "happy parent" are her keys to juggling five children and a demanding career.

Hindmarch, 41, started her business at the tender age of 19, pursuing her passion for accessories and design.

Her first shop took root on London's Walton Street and today, she has 54 stores in seven countries to her name.

Besides her main line of leather bags, Hindmarch also designs shoes, luggage, small leather goods, a beach collection and a small range of ready to wear.

Her creations are seen on the likes of famous celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Reese Witherspoon.

In 2006 and 2007, Glamour magazine awarded her the title Designer of the Year. In 2007, the prestigious British Fashion Awards honoured her with the Designer Brand of the Year award. Elle presented Hindmarch with an award for outstanding achievement the following year and she was bestowed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contribution to the British fashion industry the year after that.

To add to her long list of accolades, she was also nominated one of the 25 most influential people working in Britain's fashion industry by the British Fashion Council's Press Committee Power List in 2009.

The launch of Hindmarch's I'm Not A Plastic Bag campaign in 2007, done in collaboration with the global social change movement, We Are What We Do, made quite an impression on the fashion scene. Her intention was to make it modish not to use plastic bags, and her limited edition canvas totes have been seen on the arms of various celebrities and thousands of customers.

This year, the Anya Hindmarch Bespoke collection won the retail award at the Conde Nast Traveller Innovation and Design Awards.

Married to James Seymour, the company's financial director, Hindmarch has two children and three stepchildren aged between six and 20.

She shared a few insights into her life as a designer, businesswoman, wife and mother in an e-mail interview with StarTwo.

What are the key principles you stick to in balancing work and family life?

I have lots of (to-do) lists, and I try not to mix work and kids. When you are at home, be at home and likewise at work. Schedule "me time" things like gym, hair, nails, etc, early or late in the day, and if possible, at home. Mainly though, involve the kids in what you do, (have) no guilt and have fun. It's very important to kids that you're a happy parent!

On average, how many days are you away travelling for work in a month?

I try to condense all my travelling so that I'm not away from the children for prolonged periods of time. So I tend to cram all my visits into a fortnight, twice a year.

What time do you usually get to sleep at night?

Once the children are in bed I catch up with my e-mail and try to be in bed by 11pm. However, I am obsessed with my new iPad so that seems to be slipping!

How do you de-stress?

I am a sucker for a massage if it has been a tough week! Most of all, I enjoy relaxing at home with friends and family and locking out the world - probably with pink wine and a Rotisseries Jules Chicken delivery. I am on first name terms with all the delivery men!

When you are not traveling, do you spend most of your weekends with your husband and children?

Absolutely. There is nothing I love more than being surrounded by my favourite people, my husband and children.

How often do you go on personal holidays? Where is your favourite holiday spot and why?

We try to go away as a family once a year and I so look forward to our family trips to Mustique (a private island in the West Indies) at Christmas when we are all together.

Tell us about the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection.

This collection is for the cool, sexy, glamourous woman who knows exactly what she wants and is not afraid to show it. I think it will appeal to the sassy and insouciant side of all of us.

What was the inspiration behind it?

The charm and grace of old school 1930s Hollywood glamour is reflected throughout. This combines with Art Deco elements to create a new season of must-have pieces (that are) sure to quicken the pulse. Consider the strong personalities and effortless style of Peggy Guggenheim, Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich and Billie Holiday.

What are the key elements of the collection in terms of style, material, etc?

Leathers are soft and battered, glossy or iridescent, whilst fabrics remain luxe (like) cashmere, lamé, mink and silk. The collection is colourful yet subtle. Shades are layered and soft in oyster, burgundy, bronze, copper and coal, or strong in deep blue, violet or vibrant red. Hardware is gunmetal or palest gold, and understated.

Which are the three key pieces and can you give brief descriptions of each?

The three key pieces are the Carker, the Lacing and the Valorie. The Carker has long been a must-have piece, and this season the Anya Hindmarch classic is reinterpreted using slouchier and softer leathers.

The Lacing Shoulder is fierce in black python, relaxed in natural python or mushroom battered leather. It's easy to wear, has a simple silhouette with external pocket and lacing tied with signature Anya Hindmarch oversized tassels.

Finally, the Valorie clutches are sprinkled with glitter to sparkle at night.

Anya Hindmarch stores are located at Suria KLCC, Parkson Pavilion, and Isetan, The Gardens, all in KL, as well as Parkson, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

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