{interview} Bu-kin

by Shalice Noel

Laura Breneman, who formally worked fashion at Ralph Lauren for 10 years, and I orginally met up in NYC, and the rest is history. She’s one of the most creative people I know, and does amazing things with leather. Read on.

Q. Why Bu-kin? 
Laura: BU-KIN comes from my maiden name Buchen. A lot of what I do and make comes from what I learned when I was young from my Mother and Grandmothers as well as where I grew up. I grew up in Lancaster County, where things are simple and pure. So this is an ode to my family and my past! 

Q. What inspires you? 
LB: Oh, EVERYTHING! its is hard to say what exactly, I used to dream ideas in my sleep. I find inspiration all around me everyday. Sometimes its the most random things , like the color pink of an invoice slip against a striped fabric swatch, or markings on tiles in the subway station. I try to be open to what I feel when I am inspired, and not let media determine if I think it is right or not. 

Q. What has been your proudest moment thus far? 
LB: This is funny question because I have always been making and sewing my whole life and when I finally figure something out after hours of trial and error ( and if I am alone…) I sometimes dance around the room to celebrate “I made it, i finally made it!”Well, like I said, I have always been making things and I have tried to sell all sorts of things over the years but never seriously. After about two years of having my baby shoes be a hobby and making them all by hand, I think my ” I-made-it-moment” was when I went to pick up my first order of shoes produced for me by the Amish. It was the realization that my business was real and that it moved from hobby to business. Also I would say along with that because of the Amish, being able to start wholesaling in February.  
Q. Where do you see Bu-kin in 5 years? 
LB: I really want to move on to having a full children’s accessory brand. I feel that there are so many amazing children’s brands out there with really fun prints and colors, but it is hard to find simple classic basics that go back to these items. So, I would love to offer classic items for all ages of children not just babies and not just shoes! I am working on several items right now with the Amish that I am very excited about that are along these lines. 

Q. How has having a studio space affected you, the biz? 
LB: So much! I used to work out of 4 foot space in the middle of our small apartment in Brooklyn. I would have to spend each morning pulling everything out to work and then put it all back at night! When I would have larger orders come in the space would just be filled with boxes and it was so hard to work. I would end up just working on the floor most of the time because my desk space was so small and we would constantly be finding leather scrapes all over the apartment. I was so, so happy to move into my studio space. I now have a place for everything and space to work and the best part is I don’t have to pack it all up every night! I share my space with two other artists a Doll maker and a Florist so it is really nice to have the community as well, working alone gets well…lonely ha! 
Q. There seems to be a Renaissance of sorts in Brooklyn with so many aspiring designers, creators? Your thoughts? 
LB: Brooklyn is an amazing place to be if you are a maker. When I first moved here I was in to making perfumes and I would buy all my supplies online, then one day I was walking down the street and I found two essence shops, selling oils! Now, with my shoe business there is shoe making supply store a bike ride away. 
Everything you need is here and more. There is a large community around it as well which I think helps. There is always a fair or market happening to expose local artists. You are so close to the hype of the city and you can be inspired by it, but then you can find your happy place in Brooklyn and be able to focus on your work. 
Q. What music is streaming in the studio these days? 
LB: I wish I had something more exciting to say but I am a Pandora girl. My regular stations are Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s, Mazzy Star, Francoise Hardy , Sam Cooke and an occasional Beethoven when I am being really dramatic, haha! 

Q. Where can we get our hands on Bu-kin?

LB:  The Best place to buy them is my website! www.BU-KIN.com. I feature different one of a kind colors that you may not see in stores. I also sometimes feature giveaways, special sales and one-of-a-kind leather on my Instagram @bukinbooties along with behind the scenes photos of the process and of course tons of pictures of cute baby shoes! If you would like to purchase In store, my shoes are now available at the following NY locations:

(both locations in Brooklyn)  

 Stay tuned to see how I style some gorgeous Bu-kin leather bags …
Thanks, Laura, for inviting us into your studio.


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