You need only check out upscale department stores, huge discount chains,
small boutiques and of course the Internet to see that handbags are big business.
People get into handbag design for various reasons. Joseph Wu was intrigued
by how many otherwise stylish women he saw on the streets carrying manly briefcases.
After a lot of research, he launched his own company that designs women's
Brandi Shigley knew from a very early age that she loved handbags. In
second grade, she used to cut up scraps of paper to make her designs. "So
what if the handles were glued together with Elmer's...glue? And so what
if the polka dots sometimes rubbed off on to your clothes?"
Shigley taught herself to sew and decided to try to sell some of her bags
at a pool party. "I neatly strung them throughout [the] house and within
a couple of hours, I had sold all of them. I even had people requesting custom
designed bags. I thought to myself, 'Hark! I might be on to something!'"
But just what does it take to make it in this field?
Designer Jessica Alpert-Goldman says it's a mix of design and business
know-how. She feels a designer should not just be able to come up with pretty
concepts, but also be able to market and produce their designs.
Shigley says it takes passion and drive. "It doesn't matter what kind
of business that you want to start. As long as you have these two things,
you can do anything!"
She adds that if you want to run the business yourself, you'll need to
study marketing, sales and accounting.
Victoria Horner, who runs a handbag business, says the key ingredients
are "inspiration, creativity, dedication, adaptability, familiarity with your
She also believes that keeping good records, being organized and having
basic common sense business abilities are very important.
Is it realistic to expect to make a living through handbag design? "It's
as realistic as you want to make it," says Shigley. "I'm a firm believer
in turning dreams to reality and working hard to fulfill your dreams."
Keep in mind that this is a competitive business. Alpert-Goldman says
your ideas must always be fresh and your marketing efforts continuous.
"I don't design based on what others are doing," says Shigley. "I design
because of what I am feeling and experiencing. I don't look at creating as
competitive. I don't create because of how much money I will make. I think
that competition comes into play when people are thinking about bringing in
"It's a wonderful thing to be doing what I love to do," says Shigley.
"I am challenged and grow and experience life every day through my creations."
Lots of info
Designers A to Z
A long list of designers, websites and profiles