Rose Choules is fascinated by traditional hand-work, the everyday craft of everyday people that springs from necessity, showing self-sufficiency and a connection to the natural world. She has always been intrigued by moccasins, an ancient style that is both utilitarian and rich in cultural symbolism; plain and simple on the one hand, but also embellised and individually expressive.
Having studied footwear design and completed a fashion degree, Rose worked for many years as a shoe designer in the fashion industry, but it was, perhaps, inevitable that she would find her way back to hand-making shoes. In 2011 she won a footwear design award that gave her the opportunity to set up a pop-up moccasin atelier in the Selfridges shoe galleries in London, where she offered a ready-to-wear collection and stitched bespoke styles for customers. Soon after she visited Northern Saskatchewan in Canada, to share skills with Cree artisans, returning home with some home-smoked moose hide, rare beads and a plan to also develop a baby moccasin collection.
Today, based in a spare room in her home in Bude, Rose makes women’s and baby moccasins, handbags, purses and other accessories, using a variety of soft suedes, rhubarb-tanned leather, sheepskin, felt from Dartmoor sheep and hand-woven or printed fabrics. Her pieces, which blend traditional techniques with a sustainable ethos and modern aesthetic, ofen incorporate rare or vintage trims, original beadwork designs and small, hand-stitched details.
Rose runs regular workshops with children and adults, too, sharing her satisfaction in creating leather goods of use and joy.
Text written by Katherine Sorrell, from the book Make: Cornwall.