NAMING MY FIRST BAG INIZIO (ITALIAN FOR BEGINNING) WAS PROVING TO BE PROPHETIC….
Inizio truly was a beginning for me. Now with newly sourced (high-quality!) cork in my hot lil’ hands, my design ideas were oozing from my brain like jelly from a donut (Mmmmm! Wenchell’s strawberry filled to be exact!). I greeted Ron with two fresh designs and my roll of beautiful new cork. Our little family was growing. Inizio was going to be a big sister to the sweetest little clutch named Gigi, and a stylish tote named Yvonne.
The new cork wore beautifully. And in several colors. Bingo! I had quality cork and killer designs, but I didn’t quite have the quality workmanship I was after. My cork designs were sexy, with subtle lines and eye-catching curves. My samples were flat. Boring.
Friends, I am LOYAL. To a fault. My heart said to go back, try again. My brain said, “Paula, Ron sews garments! Find yourself a manufacturer that crafts handbags!” Ouch. I loved Ron and his enthusiastic yes when I asked him to try something new! But, I knew it was time to find a manufacturer willing to take on this wellness guru turned purse designer and teach her the ins and outs of handbag manufacturing!
I joined an online marketplace whose sole purpose was to connect designers with US manufacturers. Imagining something a little like internet dating, I uploaded photos of my samples and waited on the perfect manufacturer to swipe right. Within weeks, I had connected with 12 manufacturers who were interested in bringing my line of cork purses to life. I weeded through, researching each one, finally landing on 5 that I wanted to meet with. Although I live just two hours from Los Angeles, a major manufacturing hub, all five were located in the East Coast. Hellloooo, New England clam chowder, and lobster rolls!
“Eeeeeeerrt! Break lights!” You know how the road of life can sometimes throw you curves, just when you are finally getting up to speed? In our case, it was news that my husband needed heart surgery, and soon. True to his encouraging nature, he pushed me to visit the potential manufacturers before his surgery. So, just three weeks later, we found ourselves on a cross-country flight, visiting five manufacturers, four carefully mapped out Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (we’re super fans!), two recommended pizza joints, getting in some baby nephew snuggles, and ALLLL the historical sights along six states during our five-day tour!
Following my heart has never led me astray, so when it led us to a manufacturer in Connecticut, I followed. My heart led me to Russ, an honest-to-goodness purse manufacturer and all-round great guy. Eeek! And, two weeks later, while my husband underwent surgery, Russ was manufacturing his first sample. My life was literally in the hands of a surgeon and a handbag manufacturer.