Boutiques / E-commerce / Emerging Designers / Handbags

How Did I Get Here?

Me back in 2011 at Cerato Boutique (a great Chicago boutique, closed 2014)

I ask myself that question all the time! Maybe we all do?!?!

I just can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I officially started this business and almost 20 since I started the process (well since making my first handbag by scratch). Yes I was interested in fashion when I was in high school, but never really seriously thought I’d work a day in fashion!

But it was right after 9/11 and I couldn’t find a job and so a friend suggested I try and sell my handbags! I had been making them for fun and for gifts and so I thought why not try and make some cash. So I had my first “handbag party” in December of 2001 just to pay the rent, but something just clicked. Or maybe it’s my stubbornness, when my dad said I was crazy to try and start my own business.

Either way, I was hooked!

I’ve come a long way since those days. I’d actually say the business was more like three stages of development:

1) Those early days of hand cutting in my small 1 bedroom apt in LA and doing mostly custom fabric handbag orders from parties
2) Working with my first production team in 2006, as I developed my upgraded designs and focused on wholesale accounts
3) Refocusing on the overall brand and direct to consumer selling in 2019

For Stage Two: I always wanted to be in stores, not department stores, but the small boutiques. I really felt like they were more me because I had no interested in mass producing overseas. And really at the end of the day, that’s what they sell. And all the small boutiques I worked with were awesome. I became friends with all the owners and it truly was a great experience. I loved working with Randi at Randoons in Winnetka and Victoria in Elmhurst, Patty & Laura (Fixture), Bethany (Comfort Me), Vanessa (Spare Parts), David (Hazel), Haley (Milk), Michael (Florodora), Jaime (Stumble & Relish), and many many more over the years.

However, I realized after about 8 years of really focusing on wholesale that I wasn’t focusing on the small details or expanding my brand, but just turning over new color collections every “season.”  I wasn’t taking the time to really develop new styles like I wanted or create a complete brand. Then my online customers were overwhelmed at all the color choices! Whewww.

Of course, it was sad walking away from that, but I’m still FB friends with my buyers and I love promoting them just as much as when they carried my collection. And vice versa I hope 🙂

Then came 2020, Covid-19 and no events, UGH! Without our big show for the season, the Holiday One of a Kind Show, I will admit, it’s been very tough. Not like it hasn’t for everyone, but because the business is all me besides my production team, I’ve had a lot on my plate. I will say I do enjoy making the graphics, taking photos and being creative.

I literally walk around my place looking for new photo opportunities. And I started buying things at Target as props. AND I didn’t let the pandemic keep me from making my new leather goods this year. And I am super excited to continue to grow this business and move to the next level in 2021.

So Are you Ready to Join Me?

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