I started my handbag line in January of 2000. It was
only months from making the first three to manufacturing them for retail stores
here in Southwest Florida. I was asked to make a few bags for an organization
called God Squad and the Alliance of the Arts for their annual fundraiser.
Shortly after that, I was getting into a variety of retail shops in this area.
My first handbag that I submitted to a local art event went into a live auction
and was bought for $2,400. I was well on my way. It was hard at first keeping up
with the demand so I raised my prices. Then, the phone rang and it was Saks
Fifth Avenue wanting as many handbags as I could make to sell in their store. I
had bought all the equipment necessary to make the bags from start to finish. At
first, I was using a local artist metal shop to produce them. I opened up my
shop and began mass producing them for retail, art and trade shows. As the years
went by, my handbags were on the arms of celebrities, on the show Platinum
Weddings and National and local magazines. Last year I received an invite to go
to the Emmy’s Celebrity Gifting Suite in LA California.
I have been working with aluminum for the body of the handbag. For many reasons
this type of metal has been the metal of choice. I have embellished them with
stainless steel, copper and nickel. The inside lining is 100% Japanese silk or
100% cotton. I also include a tote bag which is custom made per bag. My audience
ranges from 30-65 years old. Oddly enough the older women tend to go for the
more edgy handbags. My inspiration is just life. I am fortunate to have traveled
to many different parts of the world but I still reflect from what I remember
from my childhood. The 70’s were actually very stylish. I think what makes my
handbags so unique is there is not anything on the market that I know of like it
and I have done a lot of research but can’t find anything that comes close. Men
seem to be drawn to them because of their hardware. They aren’t quite sure what
it is at first glance. The women like them because they are a great size, I have
many vibrant colors and they just feel like they are on the cutting edge while
I started at a metal shop with a metal artist. I worked for him during the day
and used his shop at night for my own use. It is very dangerous in a machine
shop if you aren’t supervised and know how to use the equipment. I was a little
scared at first but was more excited about all the possibilities of what I could
create. Once I made my first three and got into the charity fundraisers, it was
all uphill from there.
My handbags have taken on a transformation over the years. Nothing drastic but
they have become more sophisticated and complex. The handbags are very durable.
They hold more than you think and they can last a life time.
Recently, I had a Judith Leiber moment. I was updating a bag and I came up with
my own design and hoping she would like it. I drop something right in the middle
of the bag. All I could think was oh no now what do I do. I had only days to get
it done. I didn’t want her to panic so I came up with a new design and tried to
cover as best as I could.
When I was asked to go to the Emmy’s it was very challenging because of the
timeline. Not only did I have a few weeks to prepare, I had family issues that
came up. I was up every day at the crack of dawn to well into the night. I was
running on only a few hours of sleep a night. I really had doubts that I could
pull it off. When it was all over, I finally took a look back and said wow I
really did that. I really went for it and I made it through. I can now look at
the photos of that great day and remember why I love what I do. I couldn’t
imagine doing anything else. All the blood, sweat and tears (literally) are
really worth the end result. I love that fact that I have made a product that
keeps getting better and better and my customers are always going to wonder,
what is she going to come up with next?