We recently discovered Saint Luke and were instantly drawn to their vibrant bags and tropical prints. But that isn’t all that we love – they put people before profit, donating money from each bag sold to Waves for Water.
Founder Tessa Holladay gives us the lowdown on their story so far and her wanderlust wishlist for the year ahead.
How and where did Saint Luke begin?
Saint Luke was conceived during a very fun sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands. One particular afternoon, while we were heading towards the Soggy Dollar bar (the best bar in the world!), the chat idled towards dull, flimsy and over-complicated travel bags. Why couldn’t we get something that was just simple, robust and colourful? Something completely unique that would reflect our adventures and personalities? At the time I had been generally looking to start a business that was a force for good – putting people and the environment before profit – and this seemed the perfect fit. As soon I got back to London, I put the plans into motion and Saint Luke was born.
Who are the people behind the brand?
Saint Luke is heavily influenced by all our supportive and inspirational friends, the colourful places we’ve visited, and the crazy adventures we’ve had. One of the many wonderful things about running your own business is having the ability to choose the people you work with on a daily basis. We’re still very small and there are about 7 of us working together, though not all are full-time.
What are your interests/passions?
Needless to say, I love to travel. My husband Paul (also part of the team) is an incredible surfer, so we tend to travel to places where we can catch some waves. I’m also passionate about music: I love everything from Bonobo to Pearl Jam to Howlin’ Wolf. Music can completely transform my mood and touch my soul, especially when I’m singing at the top of my lungs in the car with the windows down!
Can you tell us a bit about your charity donations?
In association with Waves for Water (W4W), for every bag we sell, we donate the funds to provide the materials and resources for 40 people to receive clean water for 5 years. We chose this cause because access to clean water is such a basic human right, yet so many people still don’t have it.
Every year, around 840,000 people die from a water-related (and therefore preventable) disease. That’s more than the entire population of San Francisco – and 90% of these are children under 5. The demand for water is increasing significantly day by day in Nepal, and access to safe and adequate drinking water is crucial. By bringing tools, techniques and inspiration, W4W makes this possible. With our help, they have generated over $10,000 and impacted over 10,000 people.
What have you been most proud of since you started Saint Luke?
Obviously getting feedback from our customers telling us that they love our products as much as we do is an immense source of satisfaction. But it’s the wider response we’ve had: people telling us not only that they like our bags, but that they share our values and aspirations. That is something that makes me feel hugely proud.
You obviously love to travel. Where’s your favourite destination and why is it so special to you?
It’s impossible to choose just one! Santa Teresa in Costa Rica is always close to my heart because it’s where Paul and I spent our honeymoon. We’d already been there twice before, but we loved it so much we decided to go back. There’s so much to love about that place – it’s got great surf, idyllic beaches, a wonderfully laid-back vibe, and great bars and restaurants. It’s also hard to get to – you need to either catch a little prop plane to the local airport (see picture below) or take a 4×4 through thick jungle, so people tend to stay a while once they make it there!
The bags are also named after a lot of my favourite destinations, including Tortola, St Ives and St Anton…
And where’s on your travel bucket list?
For years I have been dying to get over to Brazil. Thankfully one of my best friends is getting married there this month, so I finally have an excuse to go! We’re flying into Porto Seguro and exploring the coast of Bahia in a beach buggy. I booked a stay at UXUA through i-escape, which I’m really excited about!