Designer Profile: Meagan Hayes Kamerbeek of Klutch

I rarely come across a collection of handbags that’s stylish, versatile, timeless and affordable, so I was thrilled to learn about Klutch. I had a chance to chat with the woman behind the Klutch brand, Meagan Hayes Kamerbeek, and feel like we’re already friends.

HR: When did you first begin designing handbags?  How did you transition from an established career woman in the events industry to running a successful handbag company?

MHK: I was THAT girl. The twenty-something who watched countless reruns of Sex and the City and just HAD to take a bite out of The Big Apple. I was also that same twenty something who was broke and nearly out of a job post September 29th, 2008 when the stock market crashed. I was working for an Event Firm living in an almost 200 sq ft apartment in Hell’s Kitchen above a butcher shop, attending high-profile events at The NY Public Library and The Harvard Club to promote our luxury event rentals. These events required the right outfit and, while that little black dress was versatile, I relied on my accessories to spruce up my “it’s been two weeks since it’s seen the drycleaner, LBD.”

I had no business even perusing the shops on Fifth Avenue so, I did what any resourceful, Southern gal would do. I hit the flea market for my accessories. A single gold handbag purchased for $1 would carry my necessities from one event to the next commanding compliments from some of New York’s most well-dressed women. I knew there were more like me. More women who longed to tote the latest it-bag without breaking the bank and so I vowed to start a line where nothing would ever retail for over $100. A line where even the broke, twenty somethings living off of cheap red wine and cans of soup could afford to feel fashionable. When life took us to Thailand I decided it was time to cut ties with the world of weddings and turn my attention toward building a brand.HR: What is the most challenging/rewarding aspect(s) of designing handbags and being in business for yourself? 

MHK: Two words: time management. I’m also mom to a darling 18 month-old boy we lovingly call Wild Willie so managing my time is my biggest challenge. I spend a lot of nights at the computer long after my family is tucked into bed dealing with our manufacturers. Some of my greatest inspiration occurs around 2 am, standing in front of the open refrigerator door guzzling my son’s chocolate milk. 

HR: Shopping for textiles seems like a fun part of the design process.  Where do you find inspiration when creating each collection?

MHK: I tend to draw on things I see in my day-to-day. We travel as often as possible so I’m always taking note of what I stumble upon in foreign places. The Blue rooftops in Santorini, Greece perfectly mirror the Blue Textile in our Wanderlust Cross-body and I designed our Faux Snakeskin bags to mimic the epidermis I saw on actual reptiles at the flea markets in Bangkok, Thailand.

HR: Describe the woman you design for and three celebrities who embody the Klutch brand. 

MHK: The woman I design for has a classic and somewhat practical sense of style but still likes to make a statement. She would likely never spend a fortune on a colorful bag but if it can be edgy and still affordable she’s all in! I feel like Houston-born Jennifer Garner, mom of 3 Mila Kunis and Southern Belle turned Broadway star, Sutton Foster embody the Klutch Brand. Comfortable in their own skin and not afraid to have a little fun.

HR: What five accessories should every woman invest in? 

MHK: My belief is that you invest in your staple, wardrobe pieces…accessories should bring the fun + flare without the price tag! If you’re spending too much money then the guilt sets in (for most of us) and you wind up talking yourself out of something you love. How many times have you said “oh I love it but I’d never spend THAT on a {bag, bracelet, belt}?” When those statement pieces are more accessible you tend to treat yourself. I personally try to always support my fellow designers when I accessorize. On any given day I’m going to be seen wearing a long, gold necklace (or two) by BB Lila Jewelry, a stacked arm of bracelets by Erimish and a statement ring or earring from a Give-back Brand like BelJoy HaitiHR: What advice can you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

MHK: BE your brand when it comes to customer service. There are hundreds upon thousands of emerging brands out there and some of their stuff is likely cuter/better/trendier than yours. Set yourself apart by being kind and honest. If you are unable to accommodate a customer’s request, tell them. Always offer a solution and remember “no” is never an acceptable answer. Mind your manners and always treat others the way you would require being treated before you give that five-star rating on Trip Advisor. YOU should be what sets your brand apart. Anyone can make a handbag but I want to be the reason that they prefer to continue buying mine.

HR: What’s next for Klutch? Are there plans to expand the brand? 

MHK: At this moment we are happy to keep doing what we’re doing in the lower 48. We are beginning to see a following in the UK and UAE so there is always potential to take the #travelingklutch across the pond! 

Check out the Klutch collections {here} and connect with Klutch on Facebook, Twitter, IG and Pinterest.

Designer Deal: Saint Laurent La Boheme Fringe Shoulder Bag

Doesn’t this bag just scream Hello, Fall!?! I was browsing around Jill’s Consignment and this cutie caught my eye. Yves Saint Laurent Small Orange Suede Fringe La Boheme Bag. Made in Italy. Interior magnetic snap closure. Satin lining with flat pocket. Shoulder strap has light gold ring hardware. This bag is in like new condition. Price: $425.00 at Jill’s Consignment.

2017 Walk to Answer TTP Together

I have finally recovered from the emotional roller coaster that I experience every year around this time, specifically, Mother’s Day through September. Four years ago, I lost my mom (who I affectionately refer to as “Joanie”) to a short battle with Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (aka “TTP”). She went to the hospital right after Mother’s Day and never came back home. TTP is a rare blood disorder that is considered a true medical emergency. TTP is diagnosed at a rate of 3-4 in 1 million people per year. Potentially fatal complications can result from internal blood clotting with damage to critical organs such as the brain, heart and kidneys. On August 18th, I celebrated Joanie’s birthday with my colleagues by sponsoring my 2nd Annual Jeans Day for TTP Awareness. It was a huge success thanks to all who donated. It’s an amazing feeling to be supported by so many. All of the money raised during jeans day was donated to Team Walking for Joan for the Answering TTP Foundation’s 2017 Walk to Answer TTP Together. This year’s team was just me, my dad and my boys, Nico and Ivey. It was perfect. We found a trail near our new neighborhood in Germantown. Next year, I will have t-shirts made for the boys. I totally dropped the ball.

We exceeded our fundraising goal and completed our ongoing mission to raise TTP awareness and honor our beloved Joanie. For more information on TTP, visit answeringttp.org.