Designer Spotlight: Cibado

Designer Spotlight - Cibado Handbag

Meeting other business women and creative minds is one of my favorite things about running this site. The Designer Spotlight series introduces us to the lovely Cigdem of Cibado – a collection of handcrafted leather bags and goods based in Colorado.

Naturally this business had me at “leather” but if you look closer, you will notice something more detailed and unique – Cibado uses antique horse tack hardware for closures and bag details.

Designer Spotlight - Cibado Leather BagsLets jump right into the questions!

Q. Cibado was formed in 2008 and you had prior experience working with buffalo leather for a furniture company, what made you decide to create handbags? Tell us about your career background.

Cigdem – I studied Fashion Design & Merchandising in school and worked for a few years in small apparel companies in the production side. I long had dreams of starting a clothing line. Working with leather or making bags was not on my radar. This changed when I purchased a very handsome suede messenger bag for an ex-boyfriend. His friends wanted one too but we could not find any more so he suggested we try to make some. The idea stuck long after the relationship ended. In 2007 in Philadelphia, my home town, I finally signed up for a class on how to work with leather and make leather bags. This coincided with an opportunity to attend a yoga teacher workshop in Hotchkiss, Colorado for 5 weeks. Realizing I could take the leather class in the Fall, I made my way out to Hotchkiss, Colorado in the Spring of 2007.

It was there that I met a woman who was hosting many other yoga students in her house. She is an artist/painter & we had an instant connection when meeting. It did not take long to realize we had a shared aesthetic and love for design. When I told her of my leather interest she ran into another room and came back with some leather bags she had designed and had some local people sew for her. It was here we spoke of joining forces. Currently working for a leather furniture company that needed someone to sew for them she suggested I move to Colorado and sew for this company and together start our bag venture! With scraps from our projects we learned to work with leather and developed our vision over the course of a few years before feeling comfortable enough to attempt to sell our creations. 

 Designer Spotlight Inside Cibado Studios

Q. What made you choose to incorporate antique horse hardware and tack into the bags?

Cigdem – This was truly an inspiration from our surroundings. Many trials and attempts at using new and shiny hardware were not the look we were after so during a frustrating design moment we took a walk and wandered into a saddle shop & an antique tool shop that had a huge stash of vintage horse tack and hardware. No words were needed between us. It was decided – old horse tack brought it all together and would be an important element to our bags. I am proud to say that all tack is still sourced exclusively from Colorado, especially my backyard of rural Western Colorado.

 Designer Spotlight- Cibado Leather Goods

Q. Running a business can be one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs, if you could go back five years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

 Cigdem – I used to try and force an idea to work. After hours upon hours of trying new ideas and the results being less than desirable I used to get VERY upset and would try forcing things….which didn’t usually work! After walking away from it and coming back to it with fresh eyes is usually how I was able to tackle the obstacle. Sometimes the answer was to scrap the idea altogether for the moment and move on. These days I spend far less time fighting what isn’t working.

 Designer Spotlight - Cibado Leather

Q. Being a one woman show requires a lot of organization skills, do you have any tools or tips you would like to share?

Cigdem – Really sharp scissors and lists. I need to write down what needs to get done in a day or that week and prioritize. Old school lists work best for me – pen and paper.

 Designer Spotlight - Cigdem hard at work

Q. What is your favorite thing about running Cibado?

Cigdem – Constant learning and growth. I am constantly finding that I can do things that I never thought I was capable of doing before.

 Designer Spotlight - Cibado Leather Clutch

Q. Who are your customers and the typical woman who carries a Cibado bag?

Cigdem – Getting to know the women who wear a Cibado bag I realized a few things, they value quality crafted goods, attention to detail and one of a kind unique elements that are not seen in mass-produced products. They have an interest in investing in a bag that is built to last and that goes beyond fleeting trends.

 Designer Spotlight - Cibado Leather Goods

Q. Do you create custom bags or bags for customers using their own tack if requested?

Cigdem – Yes I do…most recently I incorporated 100-year-old tack into a bag for a local woman. The hardware was incredibly interesting – I had never seen anything like it.

 Designer Spotlight - Cibado

Q. And just for fun, what is your favorite brand of cowboy boots?

Cigdem – I must admit…I have yet to own a pair of cowboy boots but it IS on my list of wants. I definitely love the look of cowboy boots with skirts. I am on the search and would welcome any suggestions. One of the first people in Colorado that gave me some guidance on leatherwork was an incredible boot maker out of Delta, Colorado. Meeting him and seeing him work was truly inspiring. Being from Philadelphia and relatively new to the West, it was watching him at work that gave me a true respect for the art and skill that goes into creating cowboy boots!

 Thank you Cigdem for sharing your time and knowledge with us! For more work from Cibado or to order something please visit

Photos  c/o Cibado

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