Solving an overlooked design conundrum

Accessories designer Rebecca Lima is solving an important and severely overlooked design conundrum that mothers have had to live with for far too long. She’s creating beautiful designer changing bags, fit for the opera, office, or a luxury dinner out.

Formerly designing for Anya Hindmarsh, Mulberry and Burberry, Rebecca chucked in her career to team up with friend Dominique and design their own unique line of beautiful bags for mothers. Rebecca shares her story of how Jem + Bea was born with Khoollect.

A Day in the Life of Rebecca Lima

What inspired you to create your a range of luxury changing bags for mums?

Before my baby arrived, I remember looking for a cool, stylish changing bag that I’d actually want to carry. There was nothing. For someone that designs bags for a living, understandably my standards were high and chinzy floral numbers just weren’t going to cut it.

Not long after, my friend Dominique (now business partner) approached me with the idea of creating covetable, designer baby bags, and it felt like fate… I knew from my own experience that the market was crying out for something better!

JEM AND BEA SOFIA PLANA PHOTOGRAPHY-36

What do you love most about your job?

I love that no two days are the same. It’s amazing how much you learn when you have your own business. Dom and I do everything ourselves, so we have our various ‘hats’– sales, customer service, warehouse, design, production – we’re ready for anything. I also love being able to work mainly from home and with my good friend.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Having our bags stocked by John Lewis. It’s such a byword for nursery gear, so this is a great achievement so early on.

What’s next – do you have plans to expand or diversify?

We can’t wait to showcase our SS16 collection next month. We’ll be introducing new leather and nylon styles and rolling out our current core styles in new colours. We also make our debut at John Lewis in February, so we have lots of exciting press engagements lined up ahead of the launch. Our international sales are doing really well so we’re looking to expand this side of things too.

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

Pens and pencils – I’ve always been a bit of a stationery geek. I can’t pass by a Ryman’s without going in.

What’s your favourite item in your #khoollection?

My Wright & Teague necklace. It was a gift from my partner.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Rebecca Lima Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Your go-to recipe for a busy weeknight?

Baked cod fillets with Portuguese sausage (from Portugal via my dad), garlic and tinned tomatoes, with a couple of bay leaves (from my aunt’s garden in Portugal). It’s really simple: I just fry off the sausage and throw everything in the oven and accompany with rice.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home? 

Tunbridge Wells – a very pretty town that’s great for families and is close enough to the countryside, as well as London.

Your favourite place for coffee?

The Black Dog cafe – run by a laid back Aussie guy that’s serious about coffee. He serves up the best flat white in town using Monmouth coffee. Good coffee helps me think/design.

Best spot for dinner?

George & Dragon in Speldhurst. It’s a gorgeous country pub that uses local seasonal ingredients and makes the best fresh baked bread I’ve ever had.

Where do you go to pickup fresh produce?

The farmer’s market outside Tunbridge Wells town hall, featuring the best of Kent and Sussex produce (the farms are just on our doorstep, so it’s as fresh as you can get).

Best green space or park?

Dunorlan park is a beautifully laid out and imposing victorian park.

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Sunday’s are not quite as lazy as they used to be now with a toddler! However, we definitely like to take things slowly and enjoy getting wellies on and heading to Harrison’s Rock or Bedgebury Pinetum – we’re spoilt for choice around here for beautiful countryside spots. Or we head up to London and mooch about the Southbank and Tate Modern.

If not in Tunbridge Wells, where would you be?

A Gypsy caravan in Farrs Meadow, near Wimborne in Dorset.

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Read Rebecca’s tips for caring for your quality leather bags.

Visit Jem + Bea and find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Photo by Sofia Plana