I'm often asked how I got into the handbag design business. Did I study design in school? How did I have the courage to start the business? Is it as glamorous as it seems? The answers to all of these questions are yes, just did it and sometimes. As glamorous as the fashion industry can be, the bottom line is that it's a business just like any other and the "bottom line" is what will undoubtedly make or break you.
I ran a pretty successful handbag and baby bag design business for almost 8 years. I sold my bags to stores such as Barney's New York, Bloomingdale's and many other stores and boutiques in the US and overseas. It takes time to gain customers such as these but the key to it all is having a product that the buyers and customers want and need. I spent many years banging my head against the wall trying to get into the "prestigious" stores and then something miraculous happened. My son was born and I realized I did not have a cool diaper / baby bag to carry and I was not about to carry a plastic-coated Winne the Pooh bag (no offense to Winnie the Pooh – he's one of my favorites! ). I designed my dream diaper bag in my head while rocking my son to sleep one night. I had a sample made, took some digital pictures of it and my sales reps and I were off to sell it – mostly via the internet and via those digital pics. The eye-opening part of this process was that little did I know that this particular market was hungry for hip diaper bags.
There were only a couple in the market at the time and I soon found that instead of having to call buyers repeatedly and ask them to buy my bags, I literally had buyers calling me – asking if they could place an order. Most of them only took a look at the digital pics and placed the orders – this was getting too easy, and it truly was that easy – all because there was a DEMAND for the product. Not brain surgery I know but something many small designers and business owners do not realize when they start their businesses. They start because they have a passion for what they are creating and, while I'm all for passion, passion without demand for your product will keep you chasing your tail for months or even years – not to mention costing you a ton of money
So for all of you eager, passionate fashionistas out there ready to take the plunge and start your own handbag or fashion business – take heed. Make sure the market is not over-saturated and thoroughly analyze the marketplace and subsequent demand for a product like yours and who knows, you could be the next big thing while saving yourself lots of frustration & lots of money!