Designer Profile: Jennifer Binney of Hawai‘i-Based Bag Brand, Samudra

Samudra’s new spot-on collection gave us the perfect opportunity to catch up with one of the chicest bag ladies in town.
local designer

 

She’s the badass woman behind Samudra—the brand that made camera-ready palm trees on a bag a phenomenon. It’s undeniable Jennifer Binney is one cool cat. We took a journey with the designer, from her first bag to her current collection. Here’s what she had to say.

 

samurda
PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMUDRA

 

I’ve been in the fashion industry now for 18 years. I started with Hinu jewelry in 2001-ish. In 2011, I saw a bag that was digitally printed at Paris Fashion Week. I thought, how cool [would it be] if there were palm trees on it? I figured out how to do it and started Samudra.

 

The first pouch I made has a photo that I took of the Mokuluas in Kailua. It’s still our best seller. Every piece I create is meant to evoke a special feeling or memory in someone. My flamingo feather bag reminds me of Tulum, Mexico, but others have liked it for their own reasons.

 

samurda
Photo: Courtesy of Samudra

 

Let’s be real, I’m not doing brain surgery. I’m a self-taught photographer, not a professional, but I can handle a camera. And I love to travel. It opens up space for new challenges and creativity. My bags are a reflection of the things I enjoy doing.

 

My favorite part of designing is working with other local women who inspire me. Over the years, I’ve done collaborations with Aloha Collection, Brooklyn Hawai‘i, Lady Slider and ‘Ohana Shops. I’m proud of the amazing talent we have here and am honored to be part of this group.

 

“Every piece I create is meant to evoke a special feeling or memory in someone.”

 

bagMy new collection, Tropical Jungle, is my fourth run of hand-block-stamped patterns. I love animal prints. Everything—pouches, cross-body bags and totes—will have cheetah spots, but a limited selection including puffy jackets and voile shirts will have leopards and fan palms.

 

I started using hand-block stamps a while ago. The patterns from the stamps were mainly used for the bases of my bags. But, as I grew to love the artisans and the culture of Jaipur, India, I wanted to create something that was special for them, so I crafted collections that featured all hand-blocked stamping.

 

The stamp carvers have become my friends. When I first worked with them they probably thought, “What does this crazy lady want us to do?” They were used to working with smaller patterns. I wanted big hibiscuses and big leaves. But I persisted. And, now, this fourth collection is everyone’s favorite! In India, if everyone agrees that something is good, especially in business, it’s a good omen.

 

Available at Aloha Superette, 438 Uluniu St., Kailua. (808) 261-1011, samudra11.com

 

Read more stories by Stacey Makiya