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.

{Mother’s Day Gift Idea} The Gussy Keeps Your Fabulous Handbag Dry in the Rain

The Gussy1

When the weather calls for rain, I usually grab my not-so-cute tote so I don’t have to worry about ruining my favorite handbag. Now that I’ve discovered the Gussy, those days are over! The Gussy takes “rain gear” to another level – not only providing a protective cover that is functional, but one that is as stylish as the handbag it’s covering. The Gussy is a protective, waterproof patterned “umbrella” designed to be worn as a protective cover over your favorite handbags or diaper bag, work bag, or weekend tote. According to Jamie Hantman, designer of the Gussy and former Washingtonian and White House power player, “Nothing can ruin a fashion look (or designer handbag) faster than getting caught in an unexpected downpour. Women pay a lot for their purses and want (need) to protect their investments.” I couldn’t agree with her more! This week’s forecast is rain, rain and more rain so The Gussy is now at the top of my must-have-accessory list.

Hantman had the wardrobes of fashion-savvy women in mind when designing the Gussy. Styles include the navy and white polka-dotted Meredith (pictured above), the bold navy and white chevron striped Jenny, the Charlotte featuring a beautiful trompe l’oeil purse image by New York artist Susan B. Allen in either Khaki or Navy (pictured above), the Chelsea with a whimsical skull and crown design (pictured above), and the Caroline in classic black with khaki trim. It’s obvious why The Gussy received a Best New Product Award at NY Now. It measures 36″ X 16″ and has three Velcro tabs that adjust to different purse sizes, styles and handles. When not in use, it can be folded up for easy storage inside your handbag – rain or shine so you are always prepared. Shop the Gussy collection at www.thegussy.com.

{DC Event} Gilt City Warehouse Sale at Dock5 at Union Market This Weekend + Ticket Giveaway!

Gilt City Warehouse Sale at Dock5 at Union Market

The Gilt City Warehouse Sale is returning to Union Market this weekend and we’re giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky winner!

Gilt Warehouse Sale

Enjoy sipping cocktails with your friends during this fabulous shopping party, where you’ll find designer clothing and accessories from Gilt’s top brands – stylish shoes, jewelry, handbags, suits, jackets, denim, dresses and outerwear for men, women and children. For the home, there will be bedding, kitchen and bath accessories, decorative pieces and much more. Plus snacks, cocktails and other perks from luxury brand partners. This is the perfect opportunity to fill your closet with coveted handbags, shoes, apparel and more from top designers—all at up to 80% off retail.

Become a Gilt member {here} via my personal invitation link and purchase your tickets {here}.  You can choose from 3 different times to shop:

Friday, February 19, 2016 9-11 pm (Price: $20), Saturday, February 20, 2016 morning session (Price: $10) and afternoon session (Price: $5) and includes the following:

  • Admission for one to the Gilt City Warehouse Sale at Dock5 at Union Market Access to FastPass line for those with no coats and bags smaller than 5×7″
  • Complimentary coat check (guests must check all coats and bags/purses larger than 5×7″ before entering the sale)
  • Cocktails and prosecco
  • Luna Whole Nutrition bars and popchips potato chips
  • Sparkling flavored water from Perrier in Lime, L’Orange, and Original flavors
  • Live music by local DJs KC Higgins and Sean Peoples

{DETAILS ON THE GIVEAWAY}

Thanks to the awesome GILT team, we are giving away a pair of tickets to the Gilt City DC Warehouse Sale!  To enter, simply leave a comment in the comment section of this post.  You have until Thursday night at 11:59 PM EST. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Friday, February 19th, and will choose the shopping time of their choice!