Exquisite, unique and eye-catching are just some of the words that could be used to describe the stunning handbags and accessories available at Original by Shary. Original by Shary is based in Sligo, Ireland and was set up by Sarka (Shary) Hijazi. All products are “handcrafted originals”. Sarka tries to put “additional value” into all of her products. For example, most bags are made with shower and stain resistant fabrics and include a small clip inside to help with organization. As well as this, Sarka is more than happy to take custom orders to match what you need and want.

The woman behind the brand

Sarka (40), originally from the Czech Republic, runs her business from Sligo, Ireland where she lives with her husband and four sons. Various changes in family life led to her dedicating herself to being a stay at home mum. It was this change that inspired her to set up her own crafting business.

Photo credit: Original by Shary (Instagram)

From hobby to business

“I started sewing handbags, bags, pouches and purses as a hobby when I was a very young girl about 25 years ago.” Sarka originally studied economics but sewing and designing was always her biggest hobby. Creating unique and original designs was always a way for Sarka to relax which fit perfectly into her life as a stay at home mum, saying, “What could fit better than beloved sewing that can always make me relaxed after all the everyday stress.”

Photo credit: Original by Shary (Instagram)

Inspiration for her designs

Sarka finds inspiration for her unique and colourful designs everywhere. “All the world is so colourfully wonderful – I absolutely love how many blue colours you can find looking only at sky or ocean, how many green tones can Irish nature have and what feelings can these colours bring – some are lifting up, some can make you calm when stressed.”

Sarka’s positive outlook on life

Three years ago, Sarka became almost blind in one eye due to a blood clot but still stresses the importance of colours and how they relate to how you feel. Shortly after this, she suffered an inflammation attack due to psoriatic arthritis which led to her having only three fully functioning fingers. This all happened to Sarka within six months. Speaking about this she said, “Experiences like this changes the way you look at the whole world, it taught me to enjoy and be grateful for every single moment I have in my life because you never know what can happen tomorrow and also to never give up.”

Realities of owning a small business

Sarka’s economic background helped her in setting up her business but there are difficulties with selling and promoting products within a small business. “To create something is the most easy part of a small business, but to be able to sell it is the most difficult part” she says. Hours of work go into creating and personalising a website or setting up to use other selling platforms which is where Shary believes a lot of very talented crafters give up. Speaking about how small businesses struggle to find consumers, she says, “It takes a lot of learning, changing strategies, listening to customers and flexibility”.

Photo credit: Original by Shary (Instagram)

Sarka is happy for her business to remain small as it allows her to put in more time and effort to crafting unique handmade bags and accessories. Sarka’s dedication is obvious as her designs are truly beautiful and one of a kind.

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