Designer Brooke Hagaman was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. After attending Parson’s School of Design, she returned home and launched the Bone Feather leather collection in 2011.
Bone Feather proudly handcrafts each piece in Nashville and uses 100% genuine leather, solid brass hardware and hand-carved buffalo bone feathers. The bags incorporate the natural raw edge of the leather hide, making every piece one of a kind.
Brooke and Ink & Well started their relationship when I&W borrowed some of her stunning pieces for a photoshoot. The love, passion, and hard work she puts into each of her pieces created an instant connection with the brand and the designer herself. We can’t wait for you to read Brooke’s story. Her journey to living the life she’s always wanted to live and a creating a career for herself that fulfills her and challenges her creatively will inspire you to get up and make the change you’ve always wanted to make.
What is your background and education?
I attended the University of Colorado where I got my undergrad degree in Fine Arts. I had no idea what I wanted to do but CU was a large university with lots of options for me to explore. I’ve always loved fashion and learned how to use a sewing machine and make my own clothing when I was about 14. The summer after my freshman year of college, I discovered that Parsons School of Design had a 6-week intro. to fashion design program so I attended. I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision with my education and later decided that I wanted to continue my degree at CU. I wanted a well-rounded education and I was already self-taught in design. I moved to NYC after graduating to pursue a career in fashion. I didn’t know exactly how it was going to happen, but I was going to make it happen. I had a really wonderful connection to the fashion industry that introduced me to the world of wardrobe styling. Long story short, I got plugged in and worked my way from the bottom to the top and 2 years later I was assisting the fashion director for W Magazine. I quickly realized that the fashion industry was not what I had anticipated nor wanted for my future career path. I wanted to get back to design so I went back to Parson’s and completed a 1-year program to better understand the business side of design.
What was your first job out of college?
I assisted this stylist, Katie Mossman, who did a lot of work with Numero Magazine and W Jewelry at the time. I had no idea what I was doing but I was fearless and determined. I have no idea where it came from. It’s like it was survival. There was a lot of room for error and learning and humility but I pushed through. So much of my work ethic now was built from my first jobs out of college. It was a lot of work, physically! I remember running down Broadway in SOHO carrying 50 lb garment bags on each shoulder in 95-degree weather. Sometimes 4-6 times a day. It was tough! It was so amazing to watch the creative process, starting with an idea/a storyboard, being on set watching it all come to life, then walking down the street to pick up the magazine. It all seems like a dream.
What was your day-to-day like back then?
Insane. I was working freelance for various fashion stylists so every day was a different location, different hours, and a different team of people, more or less the same tasks. On average I worked 10-16 hour days and commuted all over the city to complete various tasks for whatever stylist I was working for that day or week. I was so high on adrenaline at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was relax with friends. I feel like I never slept. My roommates and I didn’t have AC in the summer so I spent most summer nights walking around the city just to catch a cool breeze, eating Tasti-D.
How has life changed for you since?
I now have AC and I refuse to wake up before 7am (unless it’s for vacation)! The main thing is that I now work for myself so I make the rules and I’m truly doing what I love. I moved from NYC back home to Nashville where I was able to start my own business and open a shop that I use as both manufacturing and retail space. My days can still be 10-16 hours sometimes hauling 50 lbs of leather but it’s because I love it and don’t have someone yelling at me to do it. I have learned to create a happy balance that works for my life and workflow. Nature, clean air, silence, these are all vital.
What do you love about working with your hands?
The ability to manipulate a material into a completely different shape. I take a blank hide and transform it into a functional object for everyday use. Leather is amazing like that. I also love that my hands have been part of every bag I’ve made in one way or another. I feel very connected to everything I make and design because it’s all very personal to me. The leather goods that incorporate hand stitching are the best! I punch each pole by hand, sometimes wax the threat, and stitch by hand. It’s a much different feeling from selling an item that’s machine sewn. You know you’ve really put some personal labor into that piece. It makes it very special, for me.
If there was one piece of advice you could give yourself when you were just starting out in the workforce, what would it be?
Find something that you love or something you’re passionate about and don’t be afraid to fail. The beginnings of a career can be a process of trial and error but that’s how we learn and grow. Confidence. Perseverance. Discipline.