Hello my name is Alia Roberts and I’m the founder and CEO of Fox Roamer.
It all started with a chance idea during the summer of 2014. A small idea came to mind whilst I was working on some notebook designs. I decided to create some leather notebook covers to accompany the books for Christmas. Little did I know how that small decision would grow into my career I still do today.
I’d never used leather before, I decided to buy some fragments to have a go at making something. I really didn’t know what I was doing or what type of leather I’d bought, but I was determined to learn. When the leather arrived I was so pleased with how beautiful and tactile it was, but frightened by it at the same time. I knew I had to not let my fear of getting it wrong stop me, after all I had to start somewhere. I soon realised that I had none of the correct tools for working with leather so I started to research as much as possible on everything there was to know about how leather was made and the tools and skills I’d need to produce the notebook cover. As I increased my knowledge, I was totally blown away by the types of leather being made by tanneries around the world.
I started to teach myself how to make a template, how to cut leather, and finally how to hand stitch. The leather notebook cover was simple but had a beautiful feel in the hand. I was so proud of what I’d achieved I wanted to do more. I’d fallen in love with leather, the process, traditions and the history of it. Eventually I went on to explore more possibilities with leather goods, which led to bag making. I loved how working with leather made me feel. I loved the smell of it and the way certain leathers responded to the environment, I decided that this was what I wanted to do as a career. I started practicing, fine tuning my skills using traditional techniques. I put many hours into making to reach a level that was good enough to start selling my bags. My work was received with such a positive response that I decided to take a leap of faith. I quit my job, a scary thing to do, and started selling at small craft fairs which led to opening a small business online. After a few turns in the road and some years later, Fox Roamer was born. The name Fox Roamer came about after building an incredible connection with a fox that visited my garden every morning for breakfast. She brought so much joy, it was such a privilege to be accepted by a wild animal that trusted me even with her cubs. After she’d leave each morning, on a full belly, I’d wonder where she roamed. So the little fox and where she roamed became, Fox Roamer.
Today, nine years on from the notebook cover, I can honestly say I am even more in love with leather and the designing process.
When I first created Fox Roamer I thought long and hard about the ethos of my company and what it should stand for. I thought about how long leather has been around and how, historically it was one of the most important natural materials humankind had produced. Before farming and mass production there was leather. It was vital to early people to understand how to make and use leather for survival. It provided clothing, footwear, shelter and of course, carry goods. On from the very early beginning of leather making, and into more modern times, leather goods, were designed as utilitarian items, with less attention given to the aesthetic but a greater focus on their function, performance and how long they would last. With this in mind I asked myself the question, what could I do to honour such a legacy, and how can my products perform and last in a contemporary world? I decided the first question was, what type of leather should I use? I chose leather that came from the meat industry as a byproduct. Then I decided to use mainly vegetable tanned leather for its wonderful vintage qualities, strength and longevity, and for the unique characteristics it develops over time. Included in my range, I chose a few contemporary chrome leathers for their stable colour range and versatility. With leather being a natural material, and responding to todays eco concerns, I decided to never use plastic in my products. The second question was, how can I make products that respect people, and the environment? My products had to meet certain requirements, as standard, such as great function, use, longevity and durability. Then I looked at using the least amount of energy in production. Every leather product is hand-cut and hand assembled without stitching, apart from sewn pockets. Each item is made from one piece of leather comprising of only two seams, making it incredibly sturdy. The straps are made from cotton and the hardware is metal.
I would describe myself as a dreamer and a lover of simple but magical things. All my designs come from the beauty of the everyday. Objects we use and rely on without thought, that enhance our lives and bring joy. I hope every product that goes out into the world, will give as much pleasure as I have had making it.
The first bag I ever made. I called it FOX
Each item is made using leathers from some of Italy’s most prestigious tanneries specialising in vegetable tanned leather.
Each item is hand cut, assembled and hand finished by highly skilled people in our Hove studio, England.
FOX ROAMER believe in promoting affordable craft and quality as a standard you can rely on. At its heart, the notion of good design shouldn’t cost the earth. We believe good design enriches us all and should be, and can be, available to all.
We have become much more aware of the studio’s impact on the environment when making and packing our product. We only use veg tan leathers, electric machinery is used in a minimal way, and we have banned almost all plastic from packaging. We use some sellotape for labels and reused plastic from our leather delivery’s for international shipping. With these changes came innovation. How to create bags that address contemporary issues of the day. Plastic pollution, throw away culture and much more. The studio came up with the idea of a ‘no sew’, ‘one piece’ leather bag that has many more environmental pluses than industry standard leather bags on the market today.
FOX ROAMER is a new company with a new idea that looks to the future of consumerism in a different and sustainable way.
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We are so excited about the future, we hope you’ll come on our journey with us.
CARRY THE GOOD WITH YOU
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