Paige Smith is the woman behind paper geodes, art installations implanted throughout the city, deliberately crafted to get you to stop and appreciate your surroundings.
Paige is part innovator, part creative, part designer and part maker. Whenever she embarks on a new venture, it’s worth following. Which is why we were so excited when she launched VereVerto, a fine leather goods company that offers super versatile wears that look damn good.
We sat down with Paige to chat about craftsmanship, inspiration, and a bit about a good binge watch.
Who are you?
I’m Paige Smith, creative director and designer for VereVerto handbags. I launched this project with my business partner Consuelo Chozas [pictured above!] in the summer of 2013. Our handbags bridge luxury with functionality for the day-to-night city lifestyle. Which means—with a few subtle switches, a shoulder bag becomes a backpack or a cross-body bag transforms into a clutch. The bags are made of Spanish leather and now (recently) Spanish manufactured.
Outline a day of your life.
I start my day by answering emails in bed, they are usually already piling in my inbox because we have a showroom and clients in New York (one day I’ll wake up at 6am!). I’m responsible for everything ‘creative’ related in the company—from the design of the bags to the graphic design and marketing of the brand. I can have a wide variety of activities in a day, including being on set to shoot our look book, sketching pages of bag designs, drawing tech packs for prototype construction, working with Consuelo to communicate to our Spanish manufacturers and leather tanneries (which happens early in the morning or late at night), and designing all of our materials post shoot days for our website and look books.
Consuelo’s sun room in the VereVerto Angelino Heights home/office.
A selection of VereVerto’s Mox bags.
What inspires you?
I’m an obsessive reader and I love to travel and am generally constantly trying to learn something new. I’m inspired by cities’ dense cultures, with itty bitty things and giant new things to discover each day. Nature is also very important to me in the same way, there’s always something to discover and I’m immensely in awe by how things come to be.
What do you listen to while working? While playing? Or alternatively, what TV shows have you binge-watched while geoding or purse-designing? 🙂
Okay, you got me, I really like to binge watch shows while I’m doing more tedious work, it’s become my background instead of music lately. Some favorite binges are Dr. Who, Star Trek the Next Generation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seriously so good), and 30 Rock. There are more, but I don’t think I can publicly admit to them.
“I just moved my studio to the Elysian Heights area of Echo Park. I’m obsessed with walking the trails outside my door and I’ve recently gotten into listening to podcasts during my walk. I finally just started Serial, and I love Nerdist.”
When did you start thinking about creating VereVerto?
VereVerto became a twinkle in my eye almost seven years ago. I was living in San Francisco and commuting to work via bicycle or walking. Every day I begrudged the bags I had, always searching for something more useful, beautiful, and ergonomic for my commute. Eventually I gave in and bought a dorky backpack. Super useful, but really not sexy or practical any other time than when I was commuting. It finally hit me I needed both things, and buying two different bags wouldn’t do. Fast forward a few years later—I move to Los Angeles, start interviewing people about bags, meet Consuelo who knows about leather and the fashion industry, and the rest is history.
Can you talk a bit about what goes into making the bags and the craftmanship behind it?
Once a year we go to Spain to visit our tanneries. All of our bags are made with vegetable tanned leather, through processes using native vegetation. The leathers contain no chemicals and so changes color over time; it will darken with continual exposure to sunlight and contact with oils from your skin. This means the bags patina beautifully so that eventually each bag has its own story and is unique to the wearer. These bags are meant to last!
Recently we went to Spain to search for manufacturing. We found the most beautiful southern town completely built on the skill of leather working. We toured a few factories, large and small, all working on some of the largest brands in the world (see: Prada and Loewe). The skill is impressive—hand sanding the edges of each bag is no big deal—and one of the most romantic things we saw was each worker works on a slab of marble. We now manufacture with a small factory in this town, and are continually impressed with their quality and creativity in working with us to see our vision come to life.
What do you keep inside your VereVerto bag at all times?
I tend to keep a smaller bag—I keep my wallet, phone, keys, notebook/pen, and often, geodes and glue. 😉
Anything else you’d like to plug?
I don’t think I could leave you without talking more about my double life as an artist. This year I’ve been working on a couple group shows at Paradigm Gallery and Studio and Esther Klein Gallery, both in Philadelphia. And I’ve been slowly working on developing an Urban Geode website to create a participatory art community in which people all over the world can receive a package of geodes, put them up in their city, and post their work to the site. I’m hoping to launch that this year!