Local handbag designer says her dream came true when she was least expecting it

Handbag designer Moray Luke thought her start-up company wouldn’t survive the pandemic, but it did thanks to the help of others

Woman sitting with her hand on a green handbag.
Moray Luke has always wanted to own a fashion line and decided to set up her handbag company right before the pandemic (Photo credit – Tenielle Jordison)
Listen to this story

Having a handbag line named after yourself is a fashionista’s dream, but it’s been a turbulent two years in the making for Moray Luke. The 26-year-old thanks the overwhelming support she received during the pandemic for the survival of her company, Moray Luke

The eccentric company director from Kenfig, near Porthcawl, has been creating fashion designs since she was 12. She obtained her printmaking degree 11 years later from the University of Brighton before spending time in the USA. It was in Venice Beach, Los Angeles where Moray’s newfound friends saw her designs and encouraged her to make her own bespoke handbags.

She flew home to Wales and has spent the last two years working from the dining room table of her family home.

The timing was crazy

The budding designer took the first steps towards setting up her company just before Covid-19 hit the UK. She started business training on the Welsh Government’s Accelerated Growth Programme two months before the first lockdown in early 2020 and registered as a company only one month before.

“All of the timing was crazy,” she says while running her fingers through her hair.

Months of anxiety followed, with society shutting down and causing a series of delays to her business. Moray feared that her company would become another casualty of the pandemic.

She caught Covid-19 last December at the same time as her mother. This took a toll on her mental health. “I went through a dark time,” Moray says frankly, stroking her dog, Kenneth. The chocolate brown dachshund, who Moray speaks Welsh to, proved to be her “rock” during this tough period.

Unsolicited support

It became difficult for the designer to envision her big break happening. She shakes her head, “I didn’t think any of my work would go out the four walls of my mother’s dining room.”

I would cry every night about how I was going to be lost in the pandemic

Moray’s face lights up as she explains that people started to help her just as she lost hope. Local venues offered spaces to shoot photos and factories were happy to host the production of her handbags.

The gesture Moray remembers the most is that of Paul Alger. She sent the director of international affairs from the UK Fashion and Textiles Association photos of her handbags and he responded with a phone call. He told the entrepreneur she was talented and offered her coaching.

“I’ll start crying if I think about it,” Moray says. “People are acting on their hearts,” she smiles and wipes the tears from her brown eyes.

This unsolicited support has enabled Moray to successfully set up her company. She is now launching her handbag collections, one of which is made from fish leather as an alternative and sustainable material.

Attending Fashion Week events in London and Paris with her own handbags feels surreal to the woman who was stuck in lockdown with her hair in a messy bun just 18 months ago. Moray won’t forget the help she was given during the pandemic to get here.

“My dream has come true. I’m really lucky to find out what that’s like,” she says beaming with gratitude, adding, “It’s a really raw experience.”

Woman sitting and posing with a green handbag
Moray’s top tips for starting a business

1. Get educated – find business training programmes in your area

2. Do research – study and critique the work of your idols

3. Stay grounded – surround yourself with a network of supportive family and friends

(Photo credit – Tenielle Jordison)