Most of my life I have been obsessed with fashion. I have worked in various areas of the fashion industry for a long time, from sales, to assistant stylist, buyer, boutique owner in Florida, handbag designer in Los Angeles and before returning to Canada I taught visual merchandising at the Master’s level in Paris. I always loved taking garments and changing them somehow to create a piece no one else would have.
For the final year of my BFA in the US, I had to create something of my choice for an accessory class. My background at the time, was clothing design and merchandising so accessories were a whole new field for me. So being the colour lover I am, I decided to make a bright yellow leather bag. Because I just would not be happy with a plain tote I had to add something to make mine different. I added my last name “BLACK” in big blue letters on one side and the numbers “00” on the opposite side with a rainbow grosgrain ribbon across both the front and back. **I have it somewhere and once I find it I will be sure to post it. Little did I know that leather required a special sewing machine and the needles kept breaking and almost taking my eye’s out several times.
When I moved to LA I started a handbag company. Besides my one experience creating a bag for an accessory class in undergrad, I had zero experience with handbag design and construction. I ended up creating two collections: personalized bags and a more contemporary collection. I absolutely LOVED working on the personalized pieces for clients because every piece was unique and I actually felt as if each bag was manipulated into a completely new design.
As far as my personalized collection went, my first big accomplishment was when a popular online store shopintuition.com (no longer around) asked me to design a baby bag for Angelie Jolie and Brad Pitt’s baby, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. Needless to say, I was completely ecstatic. I worked with Shop Intuition often with my other collection and I owe it to them for helping to launch my career. They were primarily known for their huge celebrity following so thanks to them I was able to get my bags on Hollywood’s A-listers (at the time) such as: Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Katherine McPhee, Brooke Burke and Miley Cyrus to name a few. They later asked me to create another baby bag for Nicole Richie’s first child, Harlow Winter Kate. Again I jumped at the opportunity.
Back then it was more difficult to create some sort of online platform to effectively advertise and have a user friendly way for customers to order. It was mostly through word of mouth or through store contacts. I would have loved to expand my personalized collection had there been a more efficient way. My other bags on the other had landed in over 100 boutiques mostly across the US including Nordstrom’s and a major department store in Ireland.
I wish I had better pictures to share but back then my photography skills were lacking and I usually had less than a day from the time I picked up the personalized bag from the manufacturer to the time I had to ship it to the client.
I stopped designing because the economy in the US was on a decline and I didn’t want to invest more money in my brand at that time. I always figured it was something I could come back to later if I wished to pursue it further. I felt proud I was able to sell to most of the stores on my wish-list at the time such as: Kitson, Madison LA, Blonde LA, Fred Segal and of course a huge major like Nordstrom’s, to name a few.
SHOP THE LOOK
Designing and creating has always been in the back of my mind since I stopped several years ago. The market is forever evolving due to social media and the access individuals have currently to promote and showcase their talents and ideas. Back when I designed, I had to rely on other’s to promote my brand, market it and sell it because none of the platforms available today were available then. It is a whole new learning experience for me.
Anyway, I recently wanted to personalize my old D&G denim jacket to give it new life. I dug through all my storage and looked for my piles and piles of leather I refused to get rid of and created a personalized Caprice Bianca jean jacket. The feeling of creating something and seeing the finished product is just as exhilarating as I recalled. I can’t wait to continue creating and see where this next journey of my life takes me.
If you have any questions, comments or want to inquire about ordering please feel free to do so here or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,