Pedal & Brass was founded three years ago by Lottie Seaborn, mother of three and ex-lawyer turned creative. The brand specialises in handcrafted leather bicycle bags, handbags, and personalised leather gifts and accessories.  100% of the gift and accessory range is made from waste or surplus leather left over from Pedal & Brass’s own bag production or from well-known big brands and luxury design houses.

The bicycle bags are designed to securely clip on to a bike, either on the rear pannier rack, or on the handlebars or saddle, and bring style and sophistication to cycling! They enable customers to cycle to work, restaurants, the shops or social events in style and upon arrival, remove the bag from their bike and use it as a handbag or workbag in the normal way. 

The Waste Not gift and accessory range includes phone bags, travel wallets, luggage tags, keyrings, bookmarks, purses and more.  All made from waste leather, they are both sustainably made and beautiful! Pedal & Brass doesn’t believe in charging extra for personalisation, so everything comes with free personalisation – carried out while you wait at pop-ups.

Where are you based in the UK?

We are based in Cambridge – the city of cycling! Cycling is such a big part of life in Cambridge, and at a national level, as we all become more conscious of the need to care for our planet and reduce car usage, this is only set to grow.  Yet, we don’t need to (and shouldn’t) compromise on style – you can be eco-friendly, practical and stylish!

Who or what inspires you and your products?

Our products are inspired by the need to be both functional, practical and look great! They are designed for bikes but made for living, inspired by that timeless, classic, elegant look.

When and how did you start your business?

After 14 years working as an employment lawyer, I was spending weeks working until the early hours – missing quality time with my family and gaining little sense of achievement from the work I was doing.  I yearned for something more creative, with a tangible product to show at the end of all my hard work – something more attractive than just a contract or document! I have always been creative, tinkering around on a sewing machine and making things for fun. So I took a break from the legal world to stop and consider what else might be out there!

A friend who worked for a footwear manufacturer gave me some pieces of surplus leather and I quickly fell in love with it as a material. I started teaching myself the basic skills of leathercraft through endless hours of online tutorials and courses and started to sell small pieces at craft fairs. But, at the back of my mind, I had already started to think about crafting bags that could fit on to a bicycle.

Living in Cambridge, cycling is such a big part of life here. For many years, I had cycled to work as a lawyer, arriving slightly bedraggled and out of breath but also without any smart bag to take to meetings, work lunches or networking events!  Instead, I’d have my tatty old pannier – not the smart, professional look I was aiming for!  Then with the Covid lockdown, we’d also started to cycle more as a family and I wanted a stylish bag that I could take when cycling socially to the shops and out to meet friends.  I wanted something that I could clip to the bike but that would look good on me, too. After some research, it was apparent there was a gap in the market for beautiful leather bags that clip on to a bike but can be removed easily and used as a handbag.

With the idea brewing, I undertook a comprehensive course in leathercraft, which gave me a deeper understanding of the traditional skills and techniques involved. After many, many hours honing my skills (and lots of mistakes!), I spent months designing, sampling and finalising my bicycle bag designs and finally launched the business in the summer of 2021.  Creating the Waste Not gift and accessory range was a natural next step: it’s a great way to use up all the smaller offcuts of leather from our bags – plus a fantastic way to save many larger hides of waste leather from other big brands from going to landfill.

How did you choose the name of your business?

It took a while! I came up with lots of suggestions and put them to some very honest friends and family. You can always rely on those closest to you to tell you when something’s a bad idea! I actually came up with Cambridge Bicycle Bagsto start with, but was advised by another lawyer friend to pick something more abstract that didn’t involve the product or location – the last thing I needed to kick start the business was a trademark dispute with any other Cambridge brands! So I settled on Pedal & Brass – referencing both the bike in our use of the word pedal and one of our core component metals – much of our hardware is made from brass. I’m so glad I did now – Cambridge Bicycle Bags seems so boring in comparison!

What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I absolutely love the entire process, from designing a new product to choosing new colourways, and then that feeling of holding a beautiful tangible product at the end  – knowing that I’ve made it!  Far more gratifying than a legal contract! Of course, there are plenty of mistakes along the way but they just add to the satisfaction when eventually you nail it and finally create something gorgeous!

What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a small business owner?

How long have you got? There are many challenges when you’re running a small business. Of course, keeping yourself motivated 100% of the time is tough, because retail is not easy for artisans or creatives when faced with so much online noisefrom big brands and shopping events like Black Friday. There are plenty of days when orders are slow and I have to go and check that my website is actually working (of course it is, it’s just a quiet moment!) But learning that it’s normal and that everyone suffers from quiet days is comforting that’s where surrounding yourself with an amazing community of small business owners is so important. 

The other challenge is continually having to prove the value in your products. Yes, our bicycle bags cost up to £250, but the materials are very costly (especially as we don’t get the same bulk discounts that the big players enjoy) and they are often handstitched taking us at least a day to make. Many people understand this, and see the beauty in what we create, but you always get the few who tell you they can get it cheaper elsewhere!

What is your hero product or one that means the most to you, and why?

Our bestselling bag and my ultimate favourite is our tan Cavendish tote bag. All of our bags are named after the Cambridge colleges and the Cavendish always attracts the most attention! Made from a beautiful, soft, premium Italian vegetable tanned leather, it goes with any outfit and ages beautifully – taking on a gorgeous character or patina with age. It’s also a great size – able to fit a small laptop, meaning it’s great for both work and play!

Our hero accessories are definitely our keyrings and luggage tags – we have so many colours to choose from and they’re great value at £14 and £18.50 respectively – all personalised and ribboned up in a gift box!

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Where do you make your products?

I’m lucky enough to have a workshop in the garden at home, which is my absolute favourite place to be! Surrounded by leather, tools and all things silver and gold it’s my heaven! I get my leather cut at a workshop in Northampton – home of the footwear industry and all things leather. Everything is then assembled, glued, stitched and finished by us in our workshop in Cambridge.

What does a typical working day look like?

It always starts with a cup of tea, followed by dropping my three children at three different schools! Then I make a coffee and off I go to the workshop. I’ll often start with checking emails and processing online orders, liaising with suppliers and purchasing materials and components and dealing with events. Some days I’ll batch-make a load of accessories and enjoy a day at the sewing machine. Other days I’ll be at an event talking to customers and selling our products. I love events – the feedback from customers is invaluable: I often get my new product ideas from customer discussions. And people are fascinating, the stories you hear are often so interesting – just the other day, I was chatting to an elderly lady about how she used to make leather sandals and built a very successful business from it – they even had a shop in Cambridge!  

What tip (or tips) would you give anyone looking to start a small creative business?

Be military about your product costings! There are so many hidden costs in the products we all make, you need to cost out every component involved in the production process AND your time – otherwise you’ll end up undercharging for your products, which is no way to make a business from your creativity.

Also, tell people your story and about you. People buy people as much as the product itself. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made a sale from people who have gone to walk past my stand at a pop-up and then, when I start chatting to them about the story behind the products and the fact they’re made from waste leather, they’re sold!


Shop Pedal & Brass at the Country Living Christmas Market this November for a thoughtful gift, or treat yourself!