Q+A: Nicole Cipriano of Cipriano Designs October 23 2013

One of the best selling lines at Red Sail is Cipriano Designs, the beautiful leather collection from Portland-based designer Nicole Cipriano. Her work is consistently showered with customer compliments... they love the feel, they love the prints, they love the construction. Given that Nicole is one of our most popular designers, and that she happens to be one of our favorite people to work with, we wanted to share a little bit more about this amazing lady through the first installment of our new reoccurring journal segment, Q+ A.

Nicole hard at work  |  Best-seller Web Print Anita Clutch |  Most lust-worthy Anna Bag

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Most of my inspiration comes from architecture. I’ve always been obsessed with structural forms. I like to examine how things are held together and what happens when metal, wood or concrete merge. Designing is a very tactile process for me. I need to have the leather in my hands. There are a lot of different types of leathers, and they all take on a unique personality with each design. Once I start playing around with the leather a new idea will just come to me.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

It’s very rewarding when I see someone out in the world with one of my designs. It’s also rewarding when someone contacts me to say they saw one of my designs and ‘needs’ something just like it. As a designer, you want the world to appreciate your creations, and when moments like these occur, it’s just a reminder that I’m doing everything right.

What’s your greatest challenge as a designer right now?

My biggest challenge is not having enough time! I have so many ideas just bursting at the seams, but I’m too busy with production to keep up with it all.

What’s a little known fact about your collection that you wish more people realized?

Most people don’t realize that I’m a one-woman show. I design, sew, screen print and market my own product. If someone sees a bag or wallet they’re interested in, it may not be in stock five months later. In a way, my leather goods are limited edition since it’s impossible for me to have all of my designs on hand all the time.

What's in the pipeline right now? Any sneak peeks or upcoming projects you want to share?

New leathers and new prints! The new print I’m refining is called ‘Texture.’ I’m bringing in a few new leather colors, and I’m working on a new bag design. I really can’t wait to complete the collection!

What are you listening to in the studio while you’re working?

I go through phases of listening to the same album over and over again, but I’m a huge fan of Audible. I love downloading audio books, but it’s all about what process I’m in in the shop. This week I’ve been listening to Lana Del Rey and James Blake.What is the #1 piece of advice you’d share with an aspiring designer?

There’s more to being a designer than just designing, so be mentally prepared to learn all the ropes of running a business. Make a list of your goals and ask a lot of questions. There are a lot of free resources out there and remember you are not alone! Most importantly, listen to your heart and don’t give up.

The work day is done! Where is your favorite place to unwind?

I always unwind by walking my dog, Chico, to the park.

What’s your favorite piece at Red Sail right now? 

I’m in love with Caravan Pacific’s Alberta Table Lamp. All of the elements are pieced together beautifully. I can appreciate the flow of wood and ceramic joining forces for this creation.