I am delighted that everyone who purchases one of my handbags knows they are getting a unique, handcrafted product that has friends asking, “Where did you get that?”
Long before I started After 23, I was making clothes for myself, including dresses for proms, bridesmaid and flowergirl dresses for my sisters’ weddings and the head piece for my own wedding. Then came kids and the fun of making Halloween costumes, Christmas dresses, coats and backpacks for my two daughters. There were also curtains and slipcovers for the house and countless crafts.
I started making handbags while on a girls’ vacation in Florida. Being sewers, we all wanted to check out the quilt shops in the area. I know, who takes a winter vacation in Florida and goes to quilt shops? But there were so many more shops than at home in Maine. Unable to resist the gorgeous fabrics I found, I purchased some to make a handbag and matching wallet. I received so many compliments on them that I bought more fabric to make a second set and then a third …
In September, 2011 I lost my job. Several friends suggested I go into business making my handbags. I wasn’t sure anyone would pay for my bags when they could buy name brand fabric bags at the department store. However, I wasn’t having much luck in the tight job market. With holiday craft fairs coming up it was a good time to test the idea. I put together a small collection of colorful fabric handbags and accessories and managed to get into a few shows. To my amazement, not only did I sell the handbags, I completely sold out of the travel jewelry bags!
With the question of “would they sell?”answered, I had to come up with a name for my business. Starting a new career for myself after 23 years with the same company was the inspiration. I also needed a more extensive product line. I added some more designs, including a second size travel jewelry bag and infinity scarves.
The response has been tremendous. I have met so many women who were afraid to wear scarves because they didn’t know how to tie them. They are thrilled with how quickly they can put on one of my scarves and know it looks good, I hear about the compliments they get all the time. And I have been told, “Vera Bradley ain’t got nothin’ on you!” Losing my job was the best thing that could have happened to me, I am so grateful for my wonderful customers.