Meet Kate Pearson – the Leeds product designer who is putting the potential of the city’s digital and technology sector to practical and stylish use.
Kate is the founder of Fabrikk, a luxury accessories brand inspired by the emerging world of smart materials – and at least partly, she admits with a smile, the famous Mos Eisley cantina scene in Star Wars.
Smart materials have properties that react to changes in their environment or can be controlled by an outside source.
In Fabrikk’s case, that means a range of eye-catching handbags with LED fibres woven into their lining.
Open up and the fibres – powered by a small battery pack – burst into colourful life, illuminating the inside of the bags, which are manufactured in the UK from environmentally friendly cork leather.
Kate, whose first job as a teenager saw her working as a promotions girl for the Yorkshire Evening Post, told Digital City: “The idea is to make it easy for people to find things in their bag when it’s dark.
“We want the bags to come in handy whether you’re in a club, a cinema or on a plane – any darkened environment, in fact.” Kate, whose company has a studio on Kirkstall Road, added: “We strive to keep up to date with the latest developments in materials science and technology to improve the functionality as well as the environmental and social impacts of our production and products.
“In the future we will be looking for diversity in our production methods to help people and their local communities – and through this diversity we aim to be different and promise to be fair.”
Asked about the impact of Leeds’s booming digital and technology sector on her work since founding Fabrikk in 2013, Kate said: “I’m originally from Leeds and it’s a good place to be.
“Given the nature of the business we are in, I have to pop up and down to London quite a lot but Leeds has definitely been good to us.”
She added: “‘Never try, never know’ is one of our favourite quotes as we strive to create a positive and forward thinking community around our brand.”
And what else does Kate have up her sleeve? A range of hats is in the pipeline, with baker boy and flat cap styles planned.
She is also exploring a unisex bag concept similar to her current range but was understandably reluctant to go into too much detail at this stage, saying tantalisingly: “Watch this space!” For further information about Fabrikk and its products, visit the www.fabrikk.co.uk website.
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Launched last month as a regular online and printed platform, Digital City is designed to celebrate the success of a sector that boasts around 3,000 organisations in Leeds.