I had the pleasure of first meeting Sally Peek of Nana by Sally last year, and have since been inspired by her creative approach to designing one-of-a-kind accessories in the comfort of her lovely home studio in Columbia, South Carolina. When I started researching designers to feature in HandbagReport.com’s new studio at Tapp’s Art Center, I came across Nana by Sally on Etsy, and knew that her “100% unique” handmade accessories would be a perfect fit. While visiting Sally earlier in the week, we had a chance to catch up, and she allowed me to snap a few pics of her space and to learn more about where she finds inspiration.
HR: When did you first start designing bags, and how did you transition into doing it full time?
Sally: I first started designing bags nearly 5 years ago. I was working full time when I began my business and it took me a couple of years to transition slowly into designing bags full time. I took baby steps to get to where I am and I am glad for that.
HR: Shopping for fabric seems like a fun aspect of being a designer. Walk us through your process of finding fabric for future collections.
Sally: Finding fabric is most definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. I travel to fabric stores throughout the year to hand pick the most unique fabrics. I also have a handful of online shops that I have used for years and I trust the quality of the fabrics they sell. It is a process but I try not to over-think what I am buying. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I do really just buy whatever fabrics speak to me. So far, that approach has kept me honest to my vision!
HR: We love that you offer a range of accessories, all of which are one-of-a-kind. Where do you find inspiration when creating each piece?
Sally: Sometimes my inspiration for a new design may come from a scrap of fabric someone gives me. Perhaps it is an odd size and I have to find a way to turn it into something beautiful. That is where my pattern drafting comes into play. I may come across a delicate lace, for example. Since I know this type of material would not hold up as an “everyday” handbag, I visualize it into becoming a lovely evening bag. The inspiration really does come from the fabrics and trims I use.
HR: As a successful entrepreneur and mother of two small children, can you offer any tips on managing time and finding balance?
Sally: Managing my time as a mother and entrepreneur is a daily challenge. However, I am a hard worker by nature and find that if I stay dedicated to my passion, success happens. If one of my girls is sick and I know that I cannot work for a few days, I find peace in immersing myself in being a nurturer for her. These days are usually balanced by those in which my husband is around and I can dive headfirst into my studio work. And, there is always late night work! It is all about taking it one day at a time.
HR: What does the future hold for Nana by Sally? Would you consider expanding your accessories collection?
Sally: I don’t know what the future holds for Nana by Sally. To be honest, I am not sure that I want to know. Like any business owner, I want my company to thrive and grow. However, I try not to get bogged down in long-term planning of anything. I do find that I set goals for myself each year, whether that is hiring sewing help so that I can dedicate more time to the design of my bags or reaching out to more retail stores. I have met my yearly goals each year so far and I just have faith that I will continue to do so. I am happy in what I do and, to me, this is the ultimate success.
It’s always encouraging to learn of others who turn their passion into a full time career. Visit Nana by Sally on Facebook for updates and to check out the latest designs.