Entry One - 23.10.21 - One Year On...

It seems right that the first entry to this online journal comes exactly one year after Isla Risa launched. 

It’s hard to think how much has changed in that time. 

Firstly, I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Rosalind, a best friend and colleague of Emma who founded Isla Risa all those months ago. As her best friend, I have very much been there since the beginning, and now I am fortunate enough to work alongside Emma as we continue to grow the company, in the hope of making beautiful bags for many years to come. (A disclaimer...Emma is the creative genius, I mainly look at spreadsheets and write copy for you to read!) 

So back to the beginning. You might have read this story before, but the brand began when Emma was furloughed from her full time job in April 2020. At the time, we both ended up quarantining back at our respective parents' houses, which just so happen to be less than a mile away from each other. 

You see, Emma and I have known each other since we were 11 years old. We went to school together and bonded over KitKats, Mean Girls and both having sisters called Grace. After school, Emma went to university and became a handbag designer, whilst I started a theatre company. Throughout that time, we (and three other of our best friends from school😘) have been a constant in each others' lives. Although Em and I are very different, our work ethics, love for beautiful things and having opposite yet complimentary skills, have led us to this point today. I don’t think if you had told those girls, nearly 18 years later, they would be spending a summer locked in their childhood homes, dreaming up a fashion label together, they would ever have believed you. 

And yet, here we are. Dreams really do come true!

I’ll stop with the cheese now. Back to 2020. 

Those hours of furlough transpired into the most creative months of Emma’s life. Never one to sit around, one day she picked up a crochet needle, a skill she had learnt at university, and began to play around with different materials. We would FaceTime most days, and each time she would have a new idea: the bag would take a different shape; she’d be playing around with new materials; and we’d spend hours saying different (mainly ridiculous) brand names to each other. 

As things opened up, we would take long walks around the countryside together, with Emma’s Grace, and suddenly things began to feel a bit more concrete. We spoke about websites, having an Instagram, what the USP was. And slowly but surely, Isla Risa came to be. 

Now, (and remember, I can say this about the brand because, as I said, I just look on spreadsheets) Isla Risa bags are truly a work of art. I often wonder what it would be like to spend a day in Emma’s brain and experience the way she sees the world, because it must be magical. Where I see a piece of material, Emma will see it as a 3D object. Where I see an order that is too large to fulfil in the time allotted, Emma will see a chance to get her head down and meet the challenge. Where I see a finished Hive that looks perfectly lovely, she’ll see the tiny details to add that will make it that bit more special. Where I see 3 shades of blue, Emma will see... only one. Yep, she does all this and yet she’s colourblind!

What I am trying to say is that, if you were ever in doubt about how much love, time, creativity and energy goes into making one of the bags, let me just tell you, I’ve never known a worker like Emma Garner. She goes above and beyond to ensure every bag she makes is better than the last. 

So Happy Birthday to Isla Risa, and congratulations to you, Emma. It’s been a helluva year (I realise I didn’t even get to that part...you’ll have to come back) and here’s to many more!

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