Lubochka bags give the term “eye candy” new meaning. Made with soft vegetable-tanned leather in a rainbow of sweet, saturated colors, simply looking at a Lubochka bag can give your mood a boost. Designer Olga Dubovik explains that memories of her childhood home in Siberia – yes that Siberia – inform and inspire her work. Though we’re more inclined to think of her current hometown Barcelona when we see her colorful bags, she explains that she spent long winters in Siberia making sweaters and socks, so Olga is reminded of home every time she sits down to make a new bag. The lovely bags are beautiful inside and out – they are lined with cute printed cotton and are big enough to hold the essentials without weighing you down. They also have staying power – Olga is happy to say she sees customers carrying these sturdy, classic bags long after they’ve purchased them and says it’s like “running into an old friend.” Learn more about the origins of this beautiful brand.
I was born in Angarsk, Siberia on the Perestroika year. When I was 13, I went to live with my sister in a city called Igualada in Spain. After finishing school, I tried several studies until I found that I liked fashion. It was something that was inside me from the beginning, as back in Siberia the four women in my family were always hand-making clothes during the winter. My studies of tailoring in Barcelona made me see that I wanted to do my own designs, so I went back to Igualada to specialize in leather, as there has always been a long tradition of tanner and leather workshops. And that's how the Lubochka project was born.
It wasn't something planned, it just happened. I started to make some bags and belts, but didn't show them to anyone because I wasn't confident about my designs. Later, I worked as a scholar for a Catalan designer called Miriam Ponsa. She uses a lot of artisan techniques and experiments without fear, so I saw that I could do it, too.
I made my first collection of five bags. My friends modeled for me, another friend shot the pictures and my husband edited them for the web. It was fun and people liked it, and that's how I started to sell my bags.
This is my fourth collection now, and I still abuse my friends to do the shooting, although now we work more professionally. Lubochka is growing and now my bags are traveling around the world: Spain, France, UK, Poland, Russia, Japan, US, Hong Kong and now Canada also!
I design with my hands, with a lot of trial and error. I do thousands of tests before I get the final sample. I won't stop until I'm 100 percent satisfied.
I consider that a leather bag can last for many years, so I want my customers to be able to wear a Lubochka for the next ten years. That's why I design few models with lots of color variations.
Winter in Siberia is very long! I spent many days with my grandmother handcrafting socks and crochet sweaters. That's what life was like back in Russia, and working with my hands again makes me feel like I am there.
My favorite material is the vegetable-tanned leather. I enjoy working with leather because it feels better on my hands [than fabric].
I love running into my customers some time after they bought a Lubochka so I can see how the bag has evolved. When they buy it, the leather is shinny new, and some time later the bag has a different look! The color changes, the leather softens and gets a new shape given by the owner's use. It definitely has a 'soul' now and it's great! It's like running into an old friend who has grown old in style.
Every day I face new problems when designing new models and also when executing them. My main challenge remains in adding something unique to my creations to differentiate them from the rest. The goal is adding a trendy touch to a functional piece.
Well, becoming a ‘micro-company’ has been a great challenge to me!
I realized that I needed new knowledge about many different things apart from design… As a company, you have to be as good at design as at administration, logistics, marketing, distribution, customer service…
I’ve definitely made some mistakes, but that’s the way to learn!
I design for myself. My designs come from little parts of myself: my caprices, needs and moods. I think every Lubochka customer finds harmony in some of my designs and makes it hers. I feel like they complete the bag, filling it with content and with personality at the same time.
Most of my customers are women, but there are also some men. No matter their gender, they are people concerned with craftsmanship, who like to wear unique pieces and want to differentiate themselves from others.
I have no favorites, I love them all! But this last collection of Mashkas is special because I designed it while I was pregnant. This is my first child, so I will always remember this time of my life.
Now I am focusing on introducing Lubochka to other countries, and I want to continue creating new pieces that are liked all around the world.
I would love to start designing new leather pieces like jackets.
[They must] rely on the possibilities of their projects and be consistent with their work.
Barcelona is a great city, there are plenty of places to recommend. Here we like eating and drinking with friends, so have breakfast at Teresa Carles, lunch at Woki Organic Market and dinner at Rita Rouge or El Noti. The Gothic district is full of bars and pubs to have a drink and go dancing.
My iPad, eating one mango every week (at least!) and my son.