{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.

Designer Spotlight: Kent Stetson

I discovered these amazing clutches on Instagram, and was immediately intrigued with the designer behind the bags. Who is he? What inspired his bold and whimsical designs? How is each bag made? I wanted to know more and see more! Kent Stetson creates stunning, cutting-edge handbags by merging traditional craft techniques with high-technology equipment and materials. After studying at Brown University, Stetson took an interest in new media and hybrid digital/traditional fine art. In 2003, as a framing experiment, he presented one of his digital paintings as a handbag, and has since made bags for collectors all over the world. By blurring the line between art and fashion he wants to in some small way inspire people to live beautifully. Mission accomplished!

I saw the Peacock Clutch (one of my favorites!) up close and it is every bit as fabulous as I expected. I can honestly say that it was hand crafted to perfection. What I love and appreciate most about Kent Stetson’s collection is that each clutch has a personality of its own. They are statement pieces that will always be a conversation starter. All bags come with a removable cross-body chain, logo dust bag, clear vinyl inner pocket, and are individually signed. Price includes shipping. All of my favorite clutches are pictured below. View and shop the entire collection at KentStetson.com.

Kent Stetson Peacock ClutchKent Stetson Peacock Clutch, Price: $195.00

Kent Stetson bagsKent Stetson Snake Clutch, Price: $205.00 & Kent Stetson Splash Clutch, Price: $195.00

Kent Stetson handbagsKent Stetson Red Wine Clutch, Price: $198 & Kent Stetson White Wine Clutch, Price: $198

Kent Stetson clutchesKent Stetson Tiger Clutch, Price: $205.00 & Kent Stetson Donut Clutch, Price: $205.00

Kent Stetson clutches Kent Stetson Brush Strokes ClutchPrice: $205.00 & Kent Stetson Stained Glass Clutch,Price: $195.00

Kent Stetson clutches4Kent Stetson Disco Clutch, Price: $205.00 & Kent Stetson Take Me to Oz Clutch, Price: $295.00

Kent Stetson Clutches 5Kent Stetson Dripping in Gold Clutch, Price: $195 & Kent Stetson Haiku Clutch, Price: $195

Designer Profile: Sara Sozo of Sozo United Handbags

SozoUnited1While shopping on Etsy, I discovered Sozo United Handbags, and was immediately drawn to designer Sara Sozo’s concept of repurposing items in your closet to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind bags. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought an item because I love the print, fabric or color combination but never ended up wearing it. Naturally, I was excited to learn more about the talented woman behind Sozo United and her mission to help support refugee women in the Atlanta area.
HR: When did you begin designing handbags?
SS: I started designing bags when I was 18 by cutting off the tops of jeans and embellishing them, and have been playing with repurpose concepts ever since. I didn’t turn handbag design into a business until late 2013, however. 
HR: Did you always want to become a handbag designer or did you transition from a different career path? 
SS: I always wanted to be involved with fashion and style design.  I started off by redesign and modernizing vintage pieces and moved into wardrobe design in my early 20’s. 
HR: What is the most challenging/rewarding aspect(s) of designing handbags and being in business for yourself?
SS: The most challenging thing is having an idea (or a million) and actually seeing it happen. Having a design concept in your head seems so easy until you actually face the demands of machinery, fabrics, etc.  There are so many rewarding things, including seeing the final product being a favorite of a customer’s wardrobe! But most of all, I get excited about all of the refugee women I help empower through training and employment. 
SozoUnited2HR: Choosing fabric seems like a fun part of the design process.  Where do you find inspiration when creating each bag?
SS: I love texture, color and culture. Meaning, I love prints that are inspired by different cultures – tribal, exotic skins, tusk and global inspired hardware.
HR: Describe the woman you design for.
SS: She’s consciously chic. She loves to mix and match her classic pieces with her unique pieces to express who she is with her wardrobe.  Yet, she is aware of world issues and wants to be part of positive change all while looking super chic. 
HR: Tell us more about your efforts to help support refugee women in the Atlanta area. 
SS: Sozo United partners with Peace of Thread, which is an organization that trains refugee women how to sew. We help give these women the ability to be self-sufficient through the skill. The women are contracted to make handbags and other sewing projects with Sozo United and other companies, allowing them to be able to take care of themselves and their families.
HR: Name five celebrities you would love to see rocking a Sozo United original.
SS: Nicole Richie, Solange, JLo, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kortney Kardashian (I know that’s 6!) 
HR: What five accessories should every woman invest in?
SS: Of course, a few handbags including: a clutch that can be worn with a more formal look (preferably in leather) which then could be dressed down. A larger, carry all tote, satchel or hobo. Simple jewels that can be worn alone or layered for a little more drama, a pair of pearl earrings, and a watch that you love every time you look at it.
HR: What advice can you give to aspiring handbag designers?
SS: Have a creative and business/financial strategy. Sometimes it’s difficult for creatives to focus on the business aspect, but extremely important.  Stay true to your personal taste, but also listen to your customer – what they want and need from their handbags.
HR: What’s next for Sozo United? Are there plans to expand the brand?
SS: We are starting to move into a larger production. We will still offer handmade bags, but we are also looking to move into larger boutique and stores.  We are also currently campaigning in partnership with Peace of Thread to raise funds for a new training and  production center for refugee women in the Atlanta area. If you would like to support or learn more, click {here}.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————
Shop the entire Sozo United collection {here}. Bags are made to order and can be custom made upon request.