Dear customers, collaborators and friends,
You may have noticed we’ve gotten a bit quiet lately. We’ve slowed things down in the workshop this year, making some much-needed space to figure out what’s next for Winter Session. After a great deal of reflection, we have recognized that it’s time for a big shift.
It is with deep gratitude that we would like to share our latest news with you: we have made the decision to close Winter Session at the end of this year. While bag-making has been our jam (not to mention our bread and butter!) for over a decade, we are ready to move on to new adventures. As you can imagine, we did not come to this decision lightly. Having dedicated so much of our time, energy, and love into this project over the past 12 years, we feel the significance of this transition, and it is bittersweet.
As we approach the end of an era, we want to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for being a part of this journey. Whether you bought one of our very first Garrison Bags (way back when Winter Session was just two machines and four hands in a small studio in Chicago), showed your support from afar by ordering a bag for yourself or a dopp kit for your mom, made a point of showing up to our sample sales and pop-ups in Denver, or simply liked what we were up to and took the time to tell your friends—your consistent feedback and enthusiasm have shaped our business in tangible and meaningful ways.
Thanks to your steady trust and support, we’ve been able to channel our passion for making things into something so much bigger than ourselves. Admittedly, we started with humble expectations. Little did we know that what began as a side project in our apartment (with the simple goal of making a cool, well-made tote bag) would take on a life of its own: growing into a mature creative business with dozens of handcrafted products, a complex production process, an international customer base, a talented and dedicated team, and an impressive collection of houseplants.
Though the rewards have been immense, the road has not been easy—but maybe easy is overrated. As Roy’s dad used to tell him, “If it was easy, everyone would do it!” We started Winter Session in a recession, without a business background or a financial cushion, in the midst of change and uncertainty in our personal lives. Over the next few years of trial, error, and optimism, we would learn an invaluable lesson: the future is possibility disguised as uncertainty. In other words: you can never really know what’s coming, but you can do your best to make the best of it. Or, if all else fails: fake it till you make it.
Embracing the unknown allowed us to navigate economic shifts and global events, unexpected material delays and ever-increasing rents, not to mention the innumerable daily challenges that define workshop life. Through the ups and downs, we’re proud to have kept our doors open and our work aprons on, while staying true to Winter Session’s goals and core values.
But the biggest gift in turning our obsession with sewing into a sustainable living was not a material one. In the process of selling the bags we had always dreamed of making, we would find ourselves connected to an incredibly broad, creative, caring community of customers and collaborators who value quality and integrity, patina and people, just as much as we do. And it is this connection to you all that we will dearly miss! We hope it goes without saying that we’d love to stay in touch with those of you we have met along the way.
So, what does closing look like? In the coming weeks, we’ll be working behind the scenes to wrap things up in the workshop. If you have a product on order or a repair in process, you are still our first priority, and we’ll keep you in the loop as we finish and ship these pieces out to you. Product-wise, we’ll be restocking our web shop with a few of our standard bags and small items this month as the holiday season (and our official closing) approaches. We’ll also be releasing a couple of limited edition items, sharing some long-hidden gems from our archive, and hosting a final sample sale in person, which will then go online. Admittedly, we will not have a lot of inventory, but we’ll make sure you, our newsletter subscribers, are in the know so you can have first dibs.
Closing our shop also means finding homes for most of our machinery and larger tools, as well as our unused materials and scrap. If you have your own leatherworking setup or sewing situation, feel free to get in touch, and we can work with you to see if there are some things that you could use.
What’s going to happen to Winter Session, the brand? Well, for now, we’re putting it to sleep, closing the door to the soon-to-be-empty workshop, shelving our patterns, and taking a break. We’ve been approached by a couple of third-party companies who have inquired about absorbing Winter Session into their (usually larger, more mainstream) brand portfolios, but we did not feel these particular relationships were right for Winter Session. Though we have not been approached by any individuals who might want to take Winter Session forward into a new iteration, we are open to this option. But of course, it would have to be the right person/party and the right fit! We are also leaving open the possibility of re-opening Winter Session in some form in the coming years, if circumstances and timing align.
Where are we going next? While we will continue to work and play in the field of design, our personal paths are taking us away from canvas and leather for a while. Having spent the past two years rebuilding our house in Denver from the studs up, Roy has rediscovered his love of architecture and building on a bigger-than-bag scale. He is now designing restaurant kitchens with a new business partner, his dad. Tanya is pursuing some writing and recording projects and taking up her art practice again.
How will we stay in touch? As this chapter comes to a close, we’ll continue to reflect on the challenges, milestones, and unexpected gifts that have shaped the course of Winter Session. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be sharing some of our memories, stories, and photos in our newsletter, on Instagram and on our blog. And hey, if you’re feeling so inspired, feel free to shoot us a message and share yours too! We’ll add them to the Winter Session scrapbook 🙂
The world is not the same as it was ten years ago (or even two years ago!) and neither are any of us. While our values have deepened and strengthened, our energy and time commitments are shifting elsewhere, we are honoring the pull. If you find yourself in a similar state of possibility, we encourage you to embrace the call. You never know where it might lead.
All our best,
Tanya and Roy