Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Stephany Childers and I am the creator of rebyc handbags. I was born and raised in Oregon by a fantastic family, and I am currently the cool age of 35 and single. It’s kind of funny because I spent so much time trying to escape this slow-paced granola mentality, but years later I am back here again. Oh, I went to college and got myself an education and then I traveled the world and dabbled in NYC fashion but nothing beats the West Coast. We love to recycle here and that is what my business is all about. I design leather handbags in an environmentally friendly way using vintage fabrics, recycled notions, and scrap leather to create one-of-a-kind bags for ladies all over the globe. I love the connections that this company has brought me. Recently I received the coolest email from a customer in London who was at a wedding in Austin, Texas and she ran into a girlfriend from Seattle and they both had one of my bags. How rad is that?
Apart from creating, what do you do?
I’m a homebody and I love to cook (specifically waffles), go on bike rides, watch movies, read books, and in the summer it’s all about camping.
What would be the title of your memoir?
Coming Full Circle would be the name of my memoir. Or maybe Thinking You Know It All but You Don’t. That would be a more realistic title.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It’s all about vintage! Being raised in a small town and having an overdeveloped imagination works wonders at the Salvation Army store. This is where my best friend Cindi and I would go shopping, and we became masters of the hunt. Of course we couldn’t do it without first slipping in our mixtape composed of songs by The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Smiths. We called it thrifting, but my dad would say “you girls hunting for nasty wear today.” To this day I believe that going to estate sales and rifling through vintage fabrics and old tapestries is very thrilling. Somebody had a plan for each piece of fabric that has been tossed aside but for some reason it never happened and now I can give it some sort of new life.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade is a way creative people can express themselves to others and to the world. It’s not just something tangible but it’s a combination of ideas, experiences and fantasies that starts in the brain and gets worked out through your hands.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My family for sure. We are a family of five — I have a brother and sister and I’m the middle child. We lived a simple life. My mom was part of a food co-op, we were home schooled in our younger years, and we didn’t own a TV until junior high. Instead we would read books as a family; sometimes the story would be so sad that we would have to pass the book around until the next person could stop crying. That kind of living fostered a real sense of self-worth, imagination, and adventure.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
Well I started going to a real school in the 8th grade and I remember taking home economics with Mrs. D, the worst teacher ever, and realized halfway through our sewing project that I knew more about sewing then she did. That and my art teacher came to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich stuck to his leg! I knew then I could become an artist on my own, and realized that creating and making had very little to do with my education. I mean no disrespect to teachers, though — I’ve had many who inspired and fostered my creativity.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I kind of got to do that a couple years ago in Paris. I was waitressing on a Friday night, totally in the weeds, and this couple whom I adore were talking about going to Paris on a tour for artists and I was like, “How amazing would that be?” To make a long story short, they offered to sponsor me and I accepted with admirable resistance at first, of course. The best part of the trip was visiting a silk flower making studio where each piece was made by hand the old fashioned way. I told myself then and there that when I got back to the states I would remember that the process is the most important part. It blew my mind that becoming technologically advanced wasn’t even an issue in this Paris studio — instead honing your skill and becoming a master of your craft was the key.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have many handmade pieces that I love but the one I will mention is my handbag brand made by my dad. He gave me the nickname “Reby” and growing up I added a “c” for Childers and there you have it. The brand works in the same way that cowboys brand cattle — you get the metal searing hot and press it against the buttery soft leather and voila, it’s hand stamped. It’s brilliant!
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
If you know how to get past the mundane monotony of life then you know how to get out of any creative ruts when they come. The same rules apply — you can change scenery, look up, and be grateful. I like to drive out to my parents’ property, look up at the stars, and sing “How Great Thou Art.” Works every time!
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Wherever I am, I want to be content being there.