Growing up in a creative household and with a passion for all crafts, Caroline Strecker was perhaps always destined to ‘make things’ as a career. But it took a chance “experiment” for her to realise her passion and, as they say, the rest is history. The Somerset creative now makes beautiful hand-stitched bags from vintage saddlery and English bridle leather in her Bruton studio.

Caroline: “I made my first leather belt from a goat hide that I bought in Seville in 2005. I started Rag of Colts in February 2017. The plan was actually to create a line of dog collars and accessories using repurposed equestrian bridle leather for Los Angeles-based company Lost Explorer, but after making a few pieces I decided to experiment with a bag – for myself. That weekend I went out with the bag and immediately got two commissions. It moved very quickly after that and I didn’t make any more dog collars!”

When you look at a saddle or a bridal, it doesn’t automatically scream ‘hand-crafted bag’ – so why did Caroline decide to use them?

Caroline: “I have always loved old leather, whether it’s a suitcase or wonderful beaten up leather armchair – I love the patina, the character, and the story each piece tells. I particularly love bridle leather and often bought bits and pieces of ancient harness leather with no idea what I would eventually do with them! When I made my first bag it was just a completely natural step to include a lovely vintage strap.”


Using old equestrian leather is a unique choice, so it is fitting that Caroline chose an equally unique name for her business.

Caroline: “Rag of Colts is an old English collective noun which has fallen out of use. I first came across it about five-years ago whilst doing some research for a project I was working on and immediately fell in love with it. When I started making the bags it felt like a perfect fit.”


Caroline’s lifelong love of making, creating, and designing was inspired by her family, and her family still plays an important role in her business today.

Caroline: “I grew up in a creative household. My grandmother taught me to knit and to weave – my mother made lots of our clothes. I couldn’t tell you when it started but it has always been a passion and sometimes an escape. I am never happier than when I am making something. Now my Rag of Colts designs are all named after family members.”Caroline runs Rag of Colts single-handedly so where does she get the inspiration from for her designs?

Caroline: “It began by making my perfect bag – the bag I wanted but couldn’t find, and the result was Meg. I think she is still my favourite, although at the moment I am really loving Lockett, the messenger bag. In theory designed as a men’s bag but I’ve been taking it everywhere! I think the stand out feature that makes my items different is the use of old leather, and I use traditional products and techniques. Absolutely everything is done by hand. I don’t use a sewing machine – I use a stitching awl, two needles, and high quality French linen thread which I coat with bees wax. There are no shortcuts but I love the process.”Caroline admits that making each bag is a time-consuming process, but it’s this attention to detail that means all of her products are completely individual. And she also offers a bespoke service, with customers able to choose details such as strap colour and buckle style.

Caroline: “There is a lot more preparation to do when reworking old leather. Finding the right piece, the most complementary colour and texture, then cutting down to size; removing old stitching or damaged areas – and sourcing a corresponding buckle all takes time, but it also means that each bag is one-of-a-kind and the creative process doesn’t become mechanical. The small Meg bag takes about two-and-a-half days to make, not including sourcing the vintage elements. Noverre, the rucksack, takes four days to make. I am inspired by the functional simplicity and beauty of classic saddlery. I also offer a made-to-order service with your preference of strap colour, brass or copper rivets, and your choice of buckle – either the classic curved Swage or the contoured Crown buckle.”

Photo by Dave Watts Photography:

Although she’s a relative newcomer to Somerset, Caroline has fallen totally in love with the county she now calls home – but why?

Caroline:I love Somerset. I love everything about it. I have only lived here for two-years and I found my way here by accident. I moved on my own, knowing no one, with my dog Flash. Friends and family thought I was crazy, but I have literally loved every single second and never looked back. I grew up in Scotland but moved to Somerset from LA, which was quite an extreme change! I don’t really know how to capture in words what it is that I love but I am captivated by Somerset. From the landscapes, the trees, the walks, the markets, the friends I have made, and the inspiring people I have met… I could go on!”

You can follow Rag of Colts on Instagram and find out further information on their website.

About The Editor

Hello! I'm KATE, a journalist, editor and broadcaster with 20 years experience in the industry. I have worked at the BBC, ITV, Heart and Sky Sports News.

I've lived in Somerset for most of my life and set up LOVE SOMERSET ONLINE in 2016. I love the seaside and am partial to a good gin and tonic.

About Love Somerset Online

LOVE SOMERSET ONLINE is an online magazine that celebrates Somerset's people, places and products.

Whether you make chutney in Chard, bunting in Brean, or mosaics in Minehead, we want to showcase your creative talent.

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