Anna Kreeger is a designer based in St Neots who designs leather bags and accessories for M.Hulot which she founded in 2011. Anna focuses on classical and functional design with a distinctly contemporary approach and she is obsessive about the detail — favouring a striking pared-down aesthetic and playful colour palette. The production process is integral to what Anna designs, and she nurtures hands-on relationships with makers and factories, to create the best possible product.
How did you get into the creative industry, and was there a defining point in your career that led you on that path?
I studied Fashion Design at The Birmingham School of Art and Design. I moved into accessories design after assisting a friend on her collection and then I designed for some UK high street stores. While working there, I worked with both factories in the UK and the far east. I particularly fell in love with some of the materials and techniques I came across, but these were almost always out of bounds due to high street budgets, which often sacrifice quality and design for profit margin. I longed to be able to use beautiful natural leathers and to design to my own ideas and vision. I also had an issue with the lack of transparency in where products where made and loved the heritage of craftsmanship we have here in the UK. After a year in the planning, M.Hulot was born!
Is there anything you would change in your current career and if so why?
Like many people, I tread the often tricky line between family and work. I have to juggle being with my little boy, who’s nearly three, and running a small business. I would love just that little bit more time to focus, not only on design, but also on strategy and how to push the business forward. I would also relish collaborating with other brands and makers on new directions for M.Hulot. Shoes and hats would be of particular interest- I dream of adding them into the collection.
Where do you see yourself, and your career in five years time?
I have a lot of ideas floating around. We moved to St Neots from London at the end of 2017 and while my business can be run anywhere it does change things. In the future I aim to have a small team and to be casting my net wider in terms of routes to market (maybe a retail space!) and connecting with the customer. I do less and less wholesale, but I would love to work on some pieces exclusively to certain stores or galleries. However, I think the ultimate goal is very simple: to keep on creating beautiful product that I am proud of and inspired by and that others want to buy. I was excited to discover the Neotists, and last week worked on a photoshoot with Maciek Platek, some of which you can see here. It feels good to have started making links locally.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
When you are making and selling a product, relationships are key. It can be stressful trying to get a product right with a manufacturer or even delivered on time, but I have learnt to ask lots of questions and allow for mistakes. We are all human, and I hate that we are taught to forget this when at work or striving for success in business. Listen to your customers too, as without them you are nothing. I have a wonderful, loyal customer base now and they often tell me they want an extra cross body strap or a zip fastening. M.Hulot is small, so there are constraints in what we are able to do, but if something is in keeping with our design aesthetic, ethos and budget then I certainly take it on board and try to work it into the collection.
What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in the creative industry?
Learn from others, ask questions and take advice, but also have a clear path and know what you want. Realise that it will be a lot harder than you think, have a back up plan financially, but also enjoy it! If you can make it work as a career it is huge privilege and (most days!) I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To find out more about Anna’s work visit her website: www.mhulot.co.uk