Erika McKelvey - Erika Lynn

Finalist of the The Brother Best Handmade Handbag

United States

2019 Finalist Erika McKelvey Erika Lynn


How are your bags made?
The process begins with designing and drawing my own patterns, choosing the perfect leather combinations, cutting the leather hides by hand, stitching with an industrial sewing machine, shaping, and hammering. These traditional techniques and handwork go into the beauty of my handmade products.

What is the primary material used?
On the Amazon Backpack, the main focal point is the oversized flap made out of Arapaima fish leather, a giant fish native to the Amazon. The completion of the bag is an aniline dyed cowhide, showcasing the natural grain of the leather.

Do you make all of your own bags? If not, please explain who helps you make your bags.
Yes, I design and make all my handbags in my studio in Charleston, SC.

What is your design inspiration? Are there Instagram accounts that you follow for inspiration?
Inspired by the unique texture, large scale pattern, and beauty of the Arapaima fish leather, Erika Lynn designed this backpack to showcase the beauty of the Arapaima leather. The Amazon Backpack has a WOW effect accomplished with the design of the oversized flap. The convertible straps allow it to be worn as a backpack, cross-body bag, or a shoulder bag. This environmentally-minded bag is a real show stopper. The Arapaima is one of the largest freshwater fish in the world, living in the deep waters of the Amazon basin. The skins are a recycled by-product of the fish. Its outstanding exotic character will transform any outfit into a sophisticated elegant look.

What sewing machine do you use to make your bags? How long have you had it?
I use a Cowboy industrial sewing machine and an antique Singer sewing machine. I have had them for about three years now.

Have you ever sewn with or used an industrial sewing machine? If not, how do you sew with leather?
Yes, I used many different industrial sewing machines in college (SCAD) and own two now, the Cowboy and the Adler.

Bag Description
Erika Lynn, The Amazon, Backpack, Arapaima Fish Leather and Cowhide, $990

See other finalists from the 2019 handbag awards