BoBelle London: Britain’s Rising Designer

We’re far from surprised that we’ve completely fallen in love with british handbag and accessory label BoBelle

Claire Watt-Smith BoBelle Sitting across from me whilst I take notes, and sipping on a strong tea, it’s obvious that – after only a few minutes of meeting – the founder of BoBelle, Claire Watt-Smith, is a bright and warm woman, with extensive experience in her field.

BoBelle is one of the latest handbag and accessory labels that is currently taking the fashion-world by storm. As seen in Vogue, BoBelle is a luxury, home-grown brand, based in, sourced from and manufactured in the UK. BoBelle is unique in that not only are its products beautiful and fashion-forward, but are also aimed to suit the practical-woman’s lifestyle.

Founded just over 3 years ago, BoBelle has undergone various transformations, and has evolved to become the successful brand that it is today. “I had to work on market-stalls, small trade-shows etc.  It was very long and laborious work.”  Looking at the gorgeous, polished Claire, we couldn’t imagine her working on a market-stall, but we commend her for it nevertheless. What is most inspiring about BoBelle, and about Claire’s own personal career story, is that she has 100% been involved in every aspect of the business. Aside from putting in long hours, trying to get her brand sold and recognised, she has also designed her pieces, and gone through the choosing of every element of her bags, in minutiae detail, in order to keep up her high standard and best represent her vision for BoBelle.

When Claire reels off an extensive list of the luxury and practical design particulars of BoBelle products, she speaks with passion and excitement, as someone who knows the ins and outs of BoBelle, not just as a business-head presiding over a business. Another long list of what she’s done today, let alone weekly, tells us that she really is a very busy woman, but she absolutely loves what she’s doing. “It is hard, and there are days where you just think – ‘Goodness me!’  But on the whole, it’s pretty satisfying and I just love the fact that no two days are the same.

BoBelle Claire and BoBelle have won various prestigious accolades over the past few years, having really proved their worth to leaders of the fashion industry. She admits that after being chosen as one of the ‘Top 20 under 30 Red Hot Women’ by Red magazine, things began to escalate for her. Both the Evening Standard and the Daily Mail chose to feature articles about her and BoBelle, as well as product features on various other publications. Next, Claire won the ‘Inspiring Mentor’ campaign with Marie Claire, designed a ‘Unique’ line for Marks & Spencer’s ‘Autograph’, and what’s more, she even got to mentoring with Kate Bostock of ASOS (then of Marks & Spencer), whom she dubs as “an absolutely fantastic, brilliant businesswoman.” But Claire’s progress wasn’t to stop there: “10 months ago we began all of the research and development for producing all of the goods here, and it’s been a rollercoaster ever since!  We officially launched on the 30th November 2012, so it’s all really new, and the first day after we launched, Vogue wrote about us, which was just brilliant.”

You’d think that once you’d got a mention from Vogue magazine, you’d feel as though you’d ‘made it’.  But whilst Claire was absolutely thrilled, she still wants to see her brand growing and growing: “I think that when you set up a company, you have this inner desire to make it the best you can. With BoBelle now, I really feel like I can see it overseas, I can see it being a lifestyle go-to brand.”  Claire’s future aspirations go even further, and what is humbling about her, is her consideration of UK manufacturing, in a way that goes beyond simply her own company. “Hopefully & ultimately, I’ll have my own factory and things like that,” she adds, “really encouraging and nurturing skills that are technically, on the decline in the UK.  We’re very good at certain things, and manufacturing is one of them.  We just need to remember that before it’s too late.

BoBelle So what is Claire’s inspiration, and what is BoBelle’s style direction? For those of us that don’t know, how could the eclectic BoBelle brand be described? “I get my inspiration from so many different things; thoughts, colours, words, and even architecture!” Whilst some may be confused when Claire explains that her favourite structure is St. Paul’s Cathedral, it is plain to see that Claire’s inspiration for bold designs has derived from the stunning building.  “There’s a very confident style about BoBelle,” something that is evident in its gorgeous designs – “It’s chic, crisp and polished.”  Whilst the products certainly live up to their name (BoBelle is derived from the words ‘beau’ and ‘belle’, both which mean ‘beautiful in French), this range of handbags are certainly more than just eye-candy, and are indeed, a power accessory. With high-quality leathers, suedes, signature styling and gold detailing, luxury is as important as practicality, as the bags are “tailor-made” for women.

BoBelle bags have absolutely everything that woman needs, and are multi-functional with a range of pockets and compartments to organise the usual chaos of a woman’s handbag. “The products are very wearable and the brand is universal; there’s a range of products for the whole life-style experience,” Claire emphasises. “What I would say about the woman who wears BoBelle, is that she wants to look and feel great.  She is very chic and she loves quality products and longevity.” So how does this translate over to the celebrity world? “I’d really like to see BoBelle being worn by celebs such as Kate Winslet, Emily Blunt, Anne Hathaway and Rachel Weisz.

BoBelle London BoBelle plans to keep evolving in the near and distant future, with some new pieces in the pipeline, but for now, the brand has a lot going on. “We’ve just done videos and modelling shoots, a new collection and new colours – it’s all so exciting!” How does Claire cope with the stresses that her busy-life brings? “I have a good, solid team.  I try not to get too emotionally involved when putting together a collection, you have to use your head.  And I make sure that I prioritise what’s important.” Claire also has a very good support system, and she makes sure that she has time for a healthy personal-life too: “My husband is amazing!” she laughs, “We spend a lot of time together, we see friends together, and we like to meander through London, and to go on city-breaks and trips away.  I try to relax with family, friends, good food and the occasional glass of red wine.” she giggles.

Claire Watt-Smith and the BoBelle story is a very inspirational one, and whilst she reminds us that being successful in the design industry may take longer than you think, she also asserts that if you keep working hard, your hard-work will most certainly pay off.  And what better testimony than that of one of the UK’s fastest growing fashion brands?

For more information simply visit and follow Claire and BoBelle on twitter at @BoBelleLondon


Tiffany is a graduate from the University of Leeds, in the disciplines of English & French. Born and bred in London, she considers herself to have a healthy addiction to fashion. With experience in both PR and TV Presenting, she hopes to forge a successful career in the Fashion or Entertainment Industries.