Designer Profile: Cortnie Elizabeth of Love,Cortnie

Cortnie ElizabethI learned of Love,Cortnie through Washingtonian’s 2013 holiday gift guide {15 DC-Made Gifts for the Locavore}, and had to learn more about the talented woman behind the beautiful, handmade statement clutches.  Cortnie has a chic, effortless style that I love.  I visit her blog StyleLust Pages daily for inspiration (my favorite outfits are pictured above), and to see what new Love,Cortnie creations she has in store for us.

HR:  When did you first start designing handbags? Did you always want to become a handbag designer or was it a gradual transition after studying at FIDM?

CE:  I first started designing bags when I was in between jobs during the summer of 2011.  Which was after graduating from FIDM in 2007.  I never imagined or dreamed that I’d be making bags, but sometimes the way things work out is just what you need.  I majored in Merchandise Marketing and also received my first degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.  I thought I was going to be a physical therapist.

I had always wanted to learn how to sew.  It was important to me that my grandmother taught me.  She knows how to do everything.  Since I had the extra time on my hands I was able to learn.  While teaching me I had mentioned how it would be cool to make a clutch.  Clutches were not a major accessory at the time and I could never find an oversized one that I loved.  So I figured that I would make them.  I learned to sew and made my first clutch, but a week later I opened my Etsy shop with 3 styles of clutches available.  I’ve now done over 100 different styles with the hopes of expanding into totes and bucket bags over the next few weeks.

Love,Cortnie

Love,CortnieHR:  What is the most challenging/rewarding aspect(s) of designing handbags and being in business for yourself?

CE:  Time management!  There’s so much to be done when you’re in business for yourself and doing it alone.  The best part will always be seeing my customers on Instagram or Facebook, etc styling one of my bags.  The compliments, the encouragement, the emails about how much they love their new clutch will always be the most rewarding part.

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

CE:  Everywhere. I usually don’t shop with anything in mind.  I’ll usually just find fabric I love and go from there.  I’ve been inspired by current trends and color combos to name a couple.

HR:  Describe the woman you design for.

CE:  The woman who loves Love,Cortnie likes to stand out.  She likes being unique and it often translates into her style.

HR:  Which Love,Cortnie clutch is your best seller and which is your personal favorite?

CE:  The best seller is hands down, the Ashleigh.  It’s hard to keep it in stock sometimes.  The ladies love leopard!  It’s way too hard for me to pick a favorite.  I’ve made so many!  It has to be between the Spotted II calf hair clutch, the Pumpkin Spice clutch, the Midnight Hour clutch and I’m really loving the new Stud Muffin clutch.

Love,CortnieHR:  Name five celebrities you would love to see rocking a Love,Cortnie original.

CE:  That’s hard!  I’ll give you three.  Beyonce, of course.  She’s just amazing.  Oprah and June Ambrose.

HR:  What five accessories should every woman invest in?

CE:  Statement jewelry, dainty rings, a light weight scarf or 5 (I have over 30), the perfect little studs and a Love,Cortnie clutch of course!

HR:  What advice can you give to aspiring handbag designers?

CE:  Do the homework, learn as much as you can, keep learning and perfect your craft.  I’m always looking for ways to make my products better.  Just go for it!

Stay connected with Cortnie via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and her blog StyleLust Pages.

Shop Now: Nneka Saran Handbags

NnekaSaran

Nneka Saran handbags have graced the arms of numerous celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Tichina Arnold, Eve, Marsha Ambrosius, Vivica A Fox, and celebrity stylist, June Ambrose to name a few.  Designer Nneka Saran Mosley describes her collections as arm candy for the fashionista at heart.  Her handbags speak to women who own their sense of style; those who love to make a statement yet value pieces that can be worn for years to come.  Check out the Nneka Saran new arrivals here!

Designer Profile: Sally Peek of Nana by Sally

Sally Peek of Nana by Sally

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.