What I Know About Style

Ben Staerck, Handbag Clinic


Handbag Clinic founder Ben Staerck on why handbags deserve a spa day and unusual alteration requests

Where did the idea for Handbag Clinic come from?

My father and I had already set up a company called Furniture Clinic to clean and revamp pieces of leather furniture that needed a bit of TLC. We were soon being asked if our restoration experts could repair handbags. Our customers couldn’t find anywhere else they would trust with their high-end designer accessories, so it was a natural step for us to open Handbag Clinic.

Why have you opened on the King’s Road, Chelsea?

After our first Handbag Clinic opened in Newcastle, we were receiving lots of enquiries from London and clients were sending us their handbags by courier. We wanted to make it easier for them by bringing Handbag Clinic to the King’s Road.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve ever had?

One of our customers wanted a pink Hermes Birkin bag, but the waiting list for that colour was too long. So, she bought the bag in tan and brought it to us to change the hue to the perfect shade of pink. It meant a full re-colour and the stitching had to be taken out and replaced to match.

Who uses Handbag Clinic?

Our customers recognise that buying a quality handbag is an investment that needs to be looked after. We have one client who has £100,000 worth of handbags registered with our stain cover service, which starts from £4.95 per month, so she can make sure they’re always looking their best.

Can you name-drop a few clients?

We’ve got a growing celebrity client base. Made in Chelsea’s Sophie Hermann came to us with four bags, and recommended us to fellow cast member Stephanie Pratt, who has just had a pair of leather trousers and a bag cleaned and repaired by us. Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones is a fan of Handbag Clinic too, as is Big Brother’s Imogen Thomas, who came to our launch night.

Is there anything you can’t repair?

A handbag may look as if it is beyond repair, but the skills of our artisan restoration experts are amazing. We can remove ink stains, completely re-colour a bag, remove greasy food stains, fix broken straps, replace missing clasps or repair torn lining.

Any tips for west London life?

We chose the King’s Road for the Handbag Clinic because we love that area of London, and so do our customers. It’s where they live, work and shop.

We’re at 382 King’s Road, which is the more residential end. It’s got a lovely feel with lots of independent boutiques, antiques stores and cafés so my biggest tip is just to take a stroll along the western end of the King’s Road. You’re sure to find a little gem you haven’t popped into before.

Where are your favourite places to eat in west London?

I divide my time between Newcastle and London. When I manage to make time for lunch on the King’s Road, Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse & Grill, which is just a couple of doors away from us, is always good and the Bluebird is another favourite. You can grab something from the salad bar for a quick pitstop and the Plats du Jour are always great value.

What’s your favourite London building?

Apart from the lovely brick arches where Handbag Clinic is, of course, the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square is stunning inside and out.

What are you most proud of?

Seeing the look on a customer’s face when they pick up a cherished handbag and we’ve made it look as good as new makes me very proud of what Handbag Clinic is achieving.


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