A few years ago, Tessa Holladay and her friends were sitting in the Soggy Dollar Bar in the BVIs. Some few rums later and the conversation had landed upon travel bags. All agreed that there were too many flimsy and unstylish offerings available so Tessa took this as fuel to create the latest must have holdall – Saint Luke.
With the aim of reflecting the adventures and personalities of their owners, Saint Luke aims to provide a refreshing alternative to soulless travel luggage. What’s more, every purchase provides the materials and resources for up to 40 people to receive clean water for 5 years in collaboration with Waves For Water. The money donated from each purchase will help fund, install and maintain water filters to provide clean water to the parts of the world that need it most.
So how did it happen?
Tessa arrived back in the Caribbean and got the wheels in motion straight away. Even though she was still working in finance at the time, she dedicated her evenings and weekends to her new project. Months later and Saint Luke was born. It’s now been over a year and the bags have graced The Sunday Times Style Magazine, The Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller, The Guardian, Elle, Stylist, Wired and GQ. She was also commissioned to provide the gift bags at the BRIT awards earlier this year and has since gained clients such as Alexa Chung, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Nick Grimshaw, and Brooklyn Beckham.
Does she miss finance? “Not the predictable days! Each day with Saint Luke is entirely different. Some days I’ll be meeting journalists, others I can be designing new collections or investigating collaborations with other brands.”
We wondered what else, besides a rum fuelled wonder moment, was behind the inspiration of starting Saint Luke. Turns out Richard Branson played a sub-conscious role. Tessa worked with him for a short while after she left the finance industry. “He’s always looking at ways to turn things on their head (and) for someone of his calibre, he is incredibly down to earth and so caring. He’s extremely passionate about the power of collaboration and using business as a force for good, which I took much inspiration from when building Saint Luke. Also – he makes business fun, which it should be!” She also echoes the same praise for Blake Mycoskie, who started TOMS, “His ‘One For One’ model absolutely blazed the trail for other Social Entrepreneurs and I think really set a standard to how businesses should all be behaving today.”
We were introduced to Tessa and Saint Luke when she came to The Club for a friend’s 30th at Figari with 20 people. She recalls late nights at the Driftwood Bar, to early morning wakeboarding, “the best hangover cure”, long rosé fuelled lunches, boat trips and group jumping shots by the infinity pool, “I had a lot of envious facebook friends that week!” she recalls. She’s planning a third trip this year, musing that The Club, “has that factor that makes you feel at home. I’m an adventurous person, but Peli is a place I’d always return to.” As well as exploring the world with her Saint Luke, Tessa takes a yearly trip to France every year with her husband and a treasured group of pals she calls the ‘troublemakers’ for a weekend. “They are the most fun, ridiculous and wonderful group of people I know – If I could choose anyone in the world to travel with, it would be them!”
Things are just beginning for Saint Luke, “Luckily, the brand is so diverse. As well as planning to bring out a new collection next year, we’re also looking at the possibility of creating a wider product range, which could consist of anything from swimwear to surfboards. Whichever way we decide to go, you can count on each product to be full of colour. We’re always on the look out for new great causes to get behind and hope that the more we grow, the bigger the difference we can make.”
What does she put in her Saint Luke? “Never more than I can carry! However long I’m going for, I usually take about 4 bikinis with me but mix and match the tops and bottoms which gives so much variety, and helps with an even tan line!. I’ll chuck those into my Saint Luke with a few kaftans, my beloved Levis cut offs and a couple of loose fitting tops and I’m ready to go!”
From the Soggy Dollar Bar to Saint Luke, a lot can happen in a year.
Explore the Saint Luke collection here…