Sheep Chic

Hingham resident Emma Ferioli’s line of stylish handbags are truly “sheep-to-shoulder.”

By: Colby Radomski

It all began on Christmas Day, 2008, with an Ashford spinning wheel, says Kiwiana Studio owner Emma Ferioli.

For months, Ferioli spun spool upon spool of yarn, until the following Christmas when she was gifted a loom. As she had done with her spinning wheel, she taught herself how to use the loom. After creating several swatches of cloth as well as a small change purse, Ferioli set her sights on a greater challenge: designing pocketbooks. She decided to name the line Kiwiana, in honor of her New Zealand roots.

Ferioli’s sophisticated, one-of-a-kind wool handbags, which come in styles like totes, cross-bodies, clutches and satchels, are handmade at her home in Hingham. From spinning the wool and weaving each piece of cloth, to custom dying it in bold colors (like royal blue and bright emerald green) and stitching the bags together by hand, Ferioli is the woman behind it all.

With a desire to keep her handbags as “local” as possible, the self-taught designer is mindful of the materials she uses: fleece is obtained only several miles away, from Weir River Farm. It’s a real “sheep-to-shoulder” process, Ferioli says proudly of her 100-percent wool bags. Other elements are sourced regionally. Leather trim and straps, for example, are made of leftover high-quality leather hides from a New England-based upholstery company. This spring and summer season, Ferioli launched a new line of silk and wool purses that incorporate recycled Indian sari silk ribbon (made with surplus material from manufacturers or from vintage saris). “The colors are rich and vibrant and no two skeins of silk are the same,” she explains. “The resulting cloth somehow manages to be rustic and luxurious at the same time.”

In addition to those that are ready-made, buyers may order custom purses. Whether she dyes it a specific color or customizes the interior, Ferioli will work with customers to design a bag that is uniquely theirs.

Shop Emma Ferioli’s products online.

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