Interview by Michelle Sproule | Erin Templeton was born and raised in the mountains near Vancouver. She started making leather accessories in 1999 after returning home from studying shoemaking abroad at Cordwainer’s College in London, England. In 2002 she opened the iconic, tiny storefront in Chinatown where she continues to hand produce leather goods from her own designs to this day. I’ve been wanting an Erin Templeton bag of my own own for ages, and pring 2011 may be the perfect excuse (emerald green purse tote, I’ve got my eye on you!). After a recent fly-by of her shelves, I caught up with Erin to ask her a few questions about her design style and inspirations…
Three things about Strathcona that make you want to live there: It’s super close to work; Tosi’s deli on Main (ring bell for service!); and I never go down Hastings without checking out a blanket sale.
Your storefront and studio are located in Chinatown. What is it about the space and its address that attracted you? Modernize Tailors gave me my break by renting me their boiler room in 2003. I worked next to them for over 4 years and am eternally grateful for being given the chance to see what a work ethic really is, a curse! As far as the storefront goes, I had no choice – either take the whole thing or move out. I had a nightmare that it would become a Waves, but not before I had a dream. My dead grandmother was on her knees building me a store. I was like “Gramma! What are you doing? You’re dead!” Her husbands Dad was a tailor at Dunns (VFS at Homer and Hastings). She grew up right around here in The 20’s. Her dad was a miner who made jewelry out of old coins. So as far as Vancouver goes, I am very sentimental and very stubborn. I wasn’t going to let anyone else have it, basically.
What inspires you? I still pick vintage for the store. It’s my first love. I really just love getting dirty and digging around. Inspiration is everywhere, but mostly in vintage and old movies.
Tell us about your favorite space to work: At home, cutting things out while watching Murder She Wrote.
What is your favourite Erin Templeton design right now? That’s hard. I owe The Hobo my life, so I have to say her, but The Good Girls are fun to make!
What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? Oldies!
Why is Vancouver a good city for indie design? I guess because we are cut off. There are a lot of challenges sourcing, but i honestly credit Dressew. It allows you to make something without worrying about making 100.
Is there a local designer that you admire? Why? That’s tough! I think everyone has different challenges. I admire people who delegate and make time for themselves, since I seem to be a slave to my work. So then I admire Heather from Dust, who now teaches at Kwantlen to have more time with her super cute family.
Where do you enjoy shopping in Vancouver? Tell us about some of your favorite local haunts. Food: Guu in Gastown (hot sake Mondays!) or BBQ at home. Duds: Eugene Choo or the thrift store. Jewels: my Grammas jewelry box or Anna Decourcey’s stash.
Who should we interview next? Wendy at Dream.