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Peterborough designer creates a look to last a lifetime

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Elin Johansson of Peterborough designs and makes artisanal leather bags with her company, Basader. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, March 04, 2019 5:39PM

Elin Johansson had it all. She’d landed a job as a knitwear designer for Ralph Lauren in New York City, a coveted position in the fashion industry. But something was missing.

“That was my dream,” Johansson said, “to become a fashion designer, but I realized you can’t really have a good life living in New York City, living that stressful life.”

Prompted by her husband Phillip’s fruitless search for a stylish, affordable and high-quality man’s messenger bag, Johansson purchased an industrial leather press and began making leather bags in her apartment.

“It went really fast from there,” Johansson said.

So fast, in fact, that within just a couple years, she’d quit her job at Ralph Lauren, move into a workspace in Brooklyn and then the big move to Peterborough.

She and Philip toured New England by car searching for the perfect idyllic little town to settle in, and the journey took them to Peterborough.

“As soon as we stopped there, we thought, this is it,” Johansson said.

Now, Johansson’s company, Basader, makes the bags in one of Harrisville’s historic downtown mill buildings, a repurposed industrial space that fits well with the aesthetics of the bags themselves.

“Our messenger bag has a classic 1940s feel but we took a very modern approach to it,” Johansson said. “I take from the past, the vintage, and also extreme minimalism and bring them together in a design that’s functional and practical but also timeless.”

A Basader bag will run you anywhere between $155-500, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee. Johansson takes pride in the long life of her bags, as one aspect of Basader’s mission to be sustainable and eco-conscious. The leather is sourced from American cows and uses vegetable-tanning, which Johansson said is more environmentally friendly and safer for the workers than the chemical-based chrome tanning process (“It’s a nasty business,” she said).

Another point of pride at Basader is that the business is entirely run by women, from Johansson to her handful of employees at the Harrisville studio, making “manly” bags and their recent addition, a line of women’s bags and clutches.

“The atmosphere works really well, just being women,” Johansson said.