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How I started DUVAL


How did you start making leather bags?

This is one of the questions people always ask me. So let me tell you the tale that brought me here today…

My love affair with fashion started far before I even knew what was happening. I distinctly remember being around 5 years old and running around the house putting together a styled outfit and then this habit of mine basically never stopped. Growing up, luckily my best friend was into my fashion shenanigans and we’d spend afternoons planning outfits and doing photo shoots. This was when Mary-Kate and Ashley were huge, so I’ll just let you imagine it…

One of the best things my mom could have done as I was growing up was teach me to sew! It gave me my core understanding of patterns and textile design that would make the transition over to working with leather much easier!


Since I was young, I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I never really settled on what I wanted to design. Once high school came around, the only class I did really well in was Fashions and I set my sights on going to university for it. But between various opinions of “you should do it!” and “you shouldn’t do it, you’ll end up working in retail with a useless degree” I decided against going to school, because school wasn’t really my thing anyways.

Instead I worked in retail and management for a number of years till I felt like I needed a complete career change.

Enter the one year of my life that goes by two things: the year wasted or the year I learned THE biggest lesson of my life!!

This office job I was so excited to get quickly turned into the worst job I’d ever had. I felt suffocated and my creativity stifled. By the time I realized I really didn’t like it…

Yup. I was pregnant! 

Forced to stay in this job I hated till my daughter was born was one of the pivotal points to getting where I am today. Sitting at this job I hated, and realizing that my daughter would one day watch my every move. I couldn’t fathom the idea of her watching me settle for something less than chasing my dreams.

I owed it to myself to go after what I loved, and I owed it to her to teach her that she can chase whatever dreams she wants in life. We aren’t bound by anything, the biggest obstacle in achieving our dreams is usually ourselves.

And just like that I gave up all excuses and I decided,


At the time, I got a job at Holt Renfrew which was fun. Shopping all day, surrounded by the most luxurious fashion and quality was the last catalyst to drive me to pinpointing where my life needed to go.

As I worked selling beautiful leather handbags, it was soon not enough. I didn’t want to be selling someone else’s designs. I loved the craftsmanship and high quality and I wanted to be making my own.


So once I went on maternity leave with my son, this was my chance to go all in!!

During my maternity leave I planned my business, I taught myself how to work with leather through hours of Googling and YouTube, plus a lot of trial and error and I designed the Meraki Collection! Once my maternity leave was over, instead of returning to work, I made my website and launched DUVAL. 

I’ve only begun scratching the surface of the plans I have for DUVAL.

One day at a time, I’m building my dream. I’m building a Canadian label we can all be proud to wear. I’m building timeless quality pieces. And most importantly, I’m changing lives through our core mission of making this world a better place by donating 10% of our profits to charity. 

So glad to have you on this journey with me!!

XO Esther 

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