“Populus” – Unique wooden handbags created by Georgian students
06 April, 2016
“Populus” – Unique wooden handbags created by Georgian students
Recently, three Georgian students created a brand of handbags that are unprecedented in the world. The bags are made of wood, felt, laces and embroideries with Georgian traditional ornaments. Businesspressnews has contacted the author of the idea, Tina Osadze, who spoke about her new enterprise. She works together with Mariam Siordia, the student of Ilia University’s Culture Management department and Davit Vazagashvili, a student of Georgian Academy of Arts.

The idea of creating a brand and the accents

“The idea arose about 5-6 months ago, when I saw FabLab equipment and how people worked there. After that, I decided that it would be nice to make wooden handbags. Nobody had anything similar then. Later I spoke to my friend. She had been doing embroideries for a long time and her works were exhibited several times. I too had some kind of experience in that field. So we decided to produce wooden handbags, which would be decorated with embroidered and knitted details. We chose national embroideries, namely Khevsurian ones, because we thought that would sell better and it would be more interesting for the tourists as well. Most of the foreigners think that the products with local peculiarities are very interesting. Later we added more details. We had a very good opportunity to begin our enterprise with FabLab and so we registered. In 2016, at the end of January, we began to work. It has been a month already and we even had our first trade exhibition on March 8, at Tbilisi Mall. Mariam Siordia and Davit Vazagashvili are my co-workers.”
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Start-up capital

“We began to operate with self-funding. We had no sponsor and our start-up capital was 400 GEL.”

The first prototype

“We worked on the first prototype so hard and spent so much time perfecting it that when on the first exhibition someone bought that first bag, I was nearly heartbroken. Generally I was very nervous. Each bag takes lots of energy and time. That is why it is always hard when you see someone taking it, even if they pay money. I try to calm myself down by thinking that these bags are produced for other people after all. Our first bag was bought by an American man who then sent it to his mother in New-York.”
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Populus

“'Populus' is a Latin word meaning a poplar. In the beginning, when we were thinking about the name, we did not want to
use an English word ‘wood’, because generally, a majority of products that are made of wood, are named in English. So we later decided to use a Latin word.”

Brand, authors and emotion

“For us, this is art and our way of self-expression. Each finished model adds to our motivation and we want to do more. As for satisfied customers, they triple our energy. I began to work on the felt long time ago. When I was studying at school, I prepared myself for trade exhibitions. I made different items from felt, including necklaces, hair-slides etc. That was exactly what I wanted to do and what gave me pleasure. So, when we began to use wood and felt, we discovered that it gives us even more pleasure. At first, we did not think the wood would be so practical and flexible, but our product exceeded our own expectations.”
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Working material and quality

“Our bags are completely made of wood and we use felt only as lining. Apart from that we use Khevsurian embroideries and we have details of laces as well. We even used leather on one of the models, which raised great interest. But most important thing is the quality and we are really proud of that. There is absolutely no risk factor for this bag to break, in spite of the fact that it is completely made of wood. At first we used veneer, but now we use beech. Our product is hand-made and it is a national brand.”

Selling and prices

“We have already made close to 40 bags but we did not sell them all. It has been about a month since we began the selling process. We work a lot because every little detail matters. At this stage, the lowest price is 69 GEL and the highest - 99 GEL. However, in the future, we are going to improve materials, as well as the quality of the bags and the prices will also be higher.”
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Future plans

“At present, the three of us continue working, but in the future we will have to add more people. I study at the university and also have another job. Mariam and David are students too and we do not have very much of free time. So we won’t be able to make these bags in high quantities.”

Wooden bags on the world market

“There are no bags that are similar to ours in the world. We create sketches ourselves. It has been nearly 10 years since wooden bags are quite popular in Germany and Greece, but they are very different from what we are doing.”
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Advice to the young people

“If you have an idea but have no courage to begin, forget everything and just begin to do it. If you do what you really like to do, you will be successful. We did exactly that. We do what we love to do and first of all it’s the process that gives us a great pleasure.”

By Tamar Korkotashvili

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