Entrepreneurial new mother Stacey Jones saw a gap in the New Zealand fashion market for structured leather satchels, a retro fashion hit that has proven popular this season, and has built up a niche business online and through stockists in Australasia, called ThickAsThieves.

"I went back to the UK to get married and recognised there was a big trend in old-style leather satchels," said Ms Jones, originally from the UK and now settled in Tauranga.

"Everyone in London seemed to have one on their shoulder."

When she returned to New Zealand she searched locally and online for a similar satchel, and realised that no-one was supplying the local market.


About to embark on motherhood for the first time, and looking for a business she could run from home, she set about creating prototype designs with the help of a local leather worker, then arranged to have the bags handmade in Hong Kong and China.

She said the costs for making handmade leather satchels were prohibitive in New Zealand, but in the longer term she hoped to bring production onshore.

Ms Jones, who has a background in advertising and marketing, launched the online business last August and has also built up 10 stockists in New Zealand and two in Australia.

Aimed at urban professionals, fashionistas and students, the satchels are produced in two sizes and a variety of colours.

"I have traditional blacks and reds and browns, but also more funky colours like bright yellow and pink," said Ms Jones. "I'm also introducing a navy and an orange this year. The bright colours sell better to women and they use the bigger size as a work bag."

Claire Terry, owner of ThickAsThieves stockist Madame Fancy Pants in Cuba Street, Wellington, said her clients liked the style and the colours.

"She's only focusing on the one type, which is really good, and she's focusing on good colours and sizes," said Ms Terry. "There's a few bag manufacturers in NZ, but none of them have focused solely on satchels. You want to stock something New Zealand-made if possible, or a New Zealand brand."