Wilbur Pack, Jr. stands by his commitment to provide bold, classic, and modern designs for today’s woman. We caught up with the fashion design veteran to find out more about SK WiLBUR and his Before the Label Campaign.
HR: When did you first start designing handbags? Did you always want to become a handbag designer or was it a gradual transition from a different career path?
SKW: I first started designing handbags in 2009. I was then designing a line of clothes for plus size women and I always created head-to-toe looks for my customer. Unfortunately the market didn’t support my endeavor and I found myself deep in debt. I almost gave up on my career. But when Hurricane Sandy hit around my birthday, my sister offered to send me to a one day handbag workshop as a gift. It was a sign from God.
HR: What is the most challenging/rewarding aspect(s) of designing handbags and being in business for yourself?
SKW: It’s always gratifying to live life on your own terms and pursue your dreams. It’s freedom but it’s not easy. As a new handbag designer, every well-known brand name is your competition. Many times women want the cache of carrying a Michael Kors or Marc Jacobs or Louis Vuitton and although my designs are of equal or greater craftsmanship, my name is not yet recognizable.
HR: Where do you find inspiration when creating each piece of your collection?
SKW: Bold, rich color always excites me when I am designing a new piece. I also look at market trends to see what’s hot now. Great music always inspires me. Right now, I have Chaka Khan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dionne Warwick in rotation.
HR: Describe the woman you design for.
SKW: The woman I design for likes classic shapes and silhouettes, but with a modern twist. She is not a “label whore”, but a woman of discerning taste who craves great craftsmanship and the personal touch. She’s a free spirit not defined by society’s expectations, and marches to the beat of her own drum. She’s stylish and she possesses a wicked sense of humor. She’s not obnoxious, but confident; smart, but not pretentious; and chic, but also approachable.
HR: Which SK WiLBUR bag is your personal favorite and best seller?
SKW: I love all my designs equally, but the small clutch from my very first season designing handbags (spring 2013) is the best seller. This season, I am reissuing the black & white zebra print and the orange & cream zebra print, as well as introducing 4 new color-ways. They will be available at a price point that is nearly 30% lower than when they first launched at retail.
HR: Name five celebrities you would love to see rocking a SK WiLBUR original.
SKW: My dream roster of celebrity clients includes Solange Knowles, Amber Riley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway, and Kerry Washington.
HR: Tell me more about your plans for expanding the collection and the Before the Label campaign?
SKW: Before the Label is a crowdfunding website dedicated to emerging designers. I was really impressed by their platform because instead of giving donors a small token of gratitude for their money, people who donate are actually helping to launch a product. The great thing is that nobody is charged unless the campaign is successful. I am offering an extraordinarily chic handcrafted tote for 40% less than the retail price so I can quickly raise capital for my company. If I successfully reach my goal by March 28, then everybody wins. If I don’t reach my goal, I collect no monies and nobody gets a bag. This campaign will give my business a much needed shot in the arm to properly market my bags.
HR: What advice can you give to aspiring handbag designers?
SKW: Aspiring designers must figure out what makes them special because that is what is going to make them stand out. Since emerging designers just can’t compete with established brands, they must be creative with marketing, production, and selling. Stick to your vision, but be flexible. And above all, aspiring designers must not give up.