Founded in 2006 by Silvia Nikolov and located in Austin, Texas, SIVANI DESIGNS creates hand-built dopp kits and bags made from a combination of military grade water-resistant waxed cotton canvas and leather. Each item is cut, personalized, and built to order with materials from American manufacturers and suppliers. The waxed cotton canvas is sourced from an American family-owned company that has used the same process for over 17o years while the leather is sourced from The Horween Leather Company who has been in business since 1905. Even the Zippers are USA made from YKK, a company that opened its first US office in 1960.
However, it wasn't always leather and canvas that she worked with. She initially started working with beaded jewelry, then moved into sterling silver and finally found her way to working with leather and natural fabrics which turned into what today is SIVANI DESIGNS. She has currently just moved into a new studio and graciously took the time to talk to us during the middle of the hustle and bustle of a move. You can view her online store at sivanidesigns.com.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your workshop.
SIVANI DESIGNS is a design studio and workshop for hand-built dopp kits and bags located in Austin, Texas. We design our own unique products with emphasis on functionality, durability, and longevity. Although our focus is on creating lasting heirloom items - items that get better with time and are passed from one generation to the next – we also offer the option of personalizing those items for the individual, which adds a sentimental value. Manufacturing our products in our own facility, gives us full control over the entire process. From pre-cutting the waxed cotton fabric and leather to personalizing to sewing and packaging, each Sivani dopp kit and bag is meticulously built to order in house.
Q. Initially was it difficult to find US manufacturers for your materials?
We believe that to create a high quality product, you have to work with the highest quality, most durable, time-tested materials. We are so lucky to be in an industry in which we have those American manufacturers and suppliers that are pioneers in what they do.
Finding US manufacturers of our materials was not hard but making them believe in you and building the initial trust and lasting relationship, was the hard part. It is one thing to place a single order for a single roll of 5 yards of fabric to be used for an indefinite amount of time and a completely different thing when that roll of fabric grows to 50 yards and then this roll grows to multiple rolls and your orders get consistent. Nobody takes you seriously until you prove yourself to be a serious business and a serious partner, focused on growth and fostering strong business relationships.
Q. Why is it important to you to use American manufacturers and suppliers?
At first it was the convenience, then it came the trust, and then became a mission for bringing back the American independence in the manufacturing section.
I started the bag collection for Sivani Designs as a hobby out of a spare room of the small apartment we used to live in 3 years ago. I didn't want to invest in buying bulk at that time because I was just testing my own passion for building bags. However, I did have a pretty strong opinion on the materials I wanted to use. I was lucky to find a manufacturer of waxed cotton canvas that could cut and sell a small roll of fabric and even luckier that this manufacturer was located in the USA. I was also lucky to find a local leather supplier that could sell only a single hide of leather. That was the convenince part – yes, I was paying more per yard and leather hide due to my small volume but I could have those materials shipped to me on demand, arriving in less than a week with relatively affordable shipping costs. Not only could I trust those manufacturers and suppliers to receive my materials fast but I could also trust them to keep their promises and quality standards due to their well-known reputation.
As the demand for the Sivani Designs products was growing, I had to decide on how to proceed with the manufacturing part. I've always been passionate about controlling and overseeing the entire manufacturing process, therefore the decision to keep manufacturing in the US, was an easy one for me. Manufacturing is and has always been the sector that employs the most workers and creates the most jobs. Many American manufacturing facilities were closed and are still closing due to the recessions in 2001 and 2007-2009, with millions of people loosing their jobs. I would like to be a part of the growing community of American manufacturers, who believe in rebuilding the American manufacturing traditions and the pride in producing American-made goods and increasing the employment in the sector. Manufacturing creates independence for the country and strengthens the American economy. Is there anything mote important than that?
Q. What do you enjoy most about having your own business?
The freedom to live my life on my own terms, to love what I do and do what I love, the ability to speak up my mind and fight for my beliefs, and to know that what I do has the power to have an impact (even a small one) on society.
Q. Is there any project that you have on the horizon for expansion?
2015 is going to be a year full of new expansions. We just moved our work shop into a larger space, which would allow for more equipment and hosting additional work force. I am currently working on expanding the line to include duffle bags and tote bags. And due to the numerous requests for wholesale, we will be tapping into the wholesale world as well.