Encouraging people to get on their bikes, cycle bag brand Hill & Ellis have designed and manufactured a wide range of colourful and stylish cycle bags to keep your iPads, mobiles, paperwork, books, sandwiches etc safe whilst you are cycling to work, to a picnic or just cycling for pleasure. Although Tour de France in full swing, for those who prefer a more sedate cycling pace, I caught up with Catherine Ellis to find out more. Hi Catherine!
Hello. I am Catherine and I am the founder of Hill & Ellis, a cycle bag brand who manufacture stylish cycle bags and baskets.
What inspired you to set up your brand, Hill & Ellis?
Cycling! I cycled to work every day as a TV producer but couldn’t find a bag that would fit to my bike but that wasn’t really ugly! After years of fruitless searching I decided to set about designing my own. I was stopped at traffic lights by cyclists asking where the sample bags were from, and I knew then I was onto something.
Your panniers are a modern-day twist on the classic school satchels, designed for bikes and ooze sophistication. What was it about the classic school satchel that made you plump for that design for your bike?
I’ve always loved the school satchel style, it’s quite classically British which also appealed, but I wanted to put our own twist on the design so that it was more original. We also have a range of other bags styles, including cotton tote panniers, scooter bags and wicker bicycle baskets.
The panniers come in a funky range of colours – I particularly like the yellow/grey combo. What colours/styles are proving popular so far?
The yellow grey is really popular and has been since we launched it as a limited edition 6 years ago. It was so popular it stayed! As well as the yellow, the burgundy, black and tan are our most popular and in our totes it’s the black and the leopard print.
As you are based in England, are your products available to purchase internationally?
Yes, we are based in England, we manufacture in London and Portugal and we ship internationally.
When designing the panniers and deciding the colours, are you influenced by current trends, old favourites, customer requests, personal tastes or bits of all those?
A bit of all really. We don’t really feed into fashion fast trends as we aren’t a fast fashion brand, we want to make bags which can be used for years. But we do get inspired by prints and colours from trends.
Can the panniers be personalised?
All our leather bags can be personalised, as we have inhouse embossing. They look great with initials on, the perfect gift!
Have you both always been into textiles or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?
I have always loved textiles and I studied design at Central St Martins (a few years ago) which helped with the bag design and pattern cutting. Much of the inspiration comes from cycling, married with inspiration from prints, colours and classic designs.
As a brand, Hill & Ellis, with every bag sold ensures that a tree is planted in its place. Which other projects have you been passionate about so far?
As well as planting a tree for every bag, we also carbon offset our workforce. As we have done this over the last year we have supported a range of projects.
We have also run various donation weeks – where profits are given to charity and these donations have gone to FareShare – who support food banks and the Bicycle Charity who re-fit old bikes in the UK and send them to people that need bikes in parts of Africa.
What do you personally enjoy about cycling?
The freedom. In the days when you went to the office you could pedal home and after just 20 minutes you would have left the day behind you and find yourself so much more relaxed. Even now, just going for a ride calms the mind. I also love the way it’s a really easy way to get some exercise into the day and you get to explore where you live.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Often jeans or tea dresses. Always something that I can pedal in. I have learnt from experience to test the outfit before getting on the bike.
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes, mainly because I have many more of them to choose from. Boots in Winter, though.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Hill & Ellis
Thank you very much Catherine for chatting with me about your gorgeous cycle bags.
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Catherine Ellis