The Design Files
Interviewing people all the time is pretty bloody awesome. For one thing, it means I am in a perpetual state of awe / inspiration with all the creative genius I am constantly exposed to, and also, I get to ask all kinds of nosey questions right off the bat, far more than would be appropriate in any normal social situation! I guess when I interview someone new, I feel like I learn just as much as you guys do! BONUS.
Case in point – today’s interviewee, Brenda Briand, who runs her own accessories label, Benah, in Sydney. Brenda has been on my radar for a while. I first met her quite by accident, because she works in the same building as jewellery designer Elke Kramer, whose studio I visited about a year or so ago during a visit to Sydney. Elke introduced us, and I was instantly intrigued by Brenda’s beautifully crafted accessories… but I’m easily distracted, and I was supposed to be meeting Elke, so I filed Brenda away in my brain for future follow up. Then late last year I noticed her INCREDIBLE accessories collab with Karen Walker, which launched at New York fashion week last September… and I totally kicked myself for not pouncing sooner!So, FINALLY today I am interviewing the very talented and intriguing Brenda Briand, better late than never!
Brenda is originally from New Zealand, and first moved to Sydney in 2003. ‘It’s a rite of passage for every New Zealander to travel; I just didn’t get too far!’ she says. Ten years on, after marrying an Australian and having a daughter, Brenda says Australia has firmly cemented itself in her heart.
Brenda is an interesting character, and Benah is not your usual accessories label. Cutting her teeth at iconic Australian fashion label Lover, as one of their very first employees, Brenda acquired an incredible range of skills in production and operations – invaluable experience she still draws on today. Coming from these foundations, Brenda possesses a rare gift – an uncanny ability to elegantly balance right-brain creative vision with pragmatic left-brain decision making! Unlike so many creatives, Brenda admits to a particular affection for the production side of her business – ‘nothing gives me more delight than seeing a colour coded, formatted spreadsheet!’ she says!
Benah is a thoughtful, effortlessly understated range of accessories, designed by Brenda in her Surry Hills studio, and manufactured across the globe, in Europe, Turkey and China. The range is produced with a meticulous attention to detail – each bag, purse, and pouch is painstakingly crafted, and beautifully finished. Brenda’s designs are the kind of classic staples that don’t grab attention, but quietly infiltrate all the right wardrobes.
As Brenda says so eloquently below, ‘Benah is a personality. She may not be the first person you see, or even the second, you have to look for her. Most probably a close friend introduces you to her for the first time, the conversation is easy, and it feels like you have met before. You find her intelligent, inspiring and maybe even a little aloof, but it’s enough to make her intriguing. You know that by the end of the night you have found a friend for life.’