Monday, April 27, 2009

Interview with Evelyn Rivera of Everette Handbags

Photo courtesy of Everette Handbags

Evelyn Rivera is a rare breed: a woman with a creative job as a Public Relations Consultant by day and a stint as an aspiring handbag designer by night.

As a wanna-be designer of handbags myself, with a less than desirable day job, I find it absolutely fascinating that Ms. Rivera even has the creative energy left to pursue her dream. Such tenacity is admirable to say the least. That coupled with a risky kind of fashion forward design sensibility, Ms. Rivera is certain to raise more than a few fashion conscious eyebrows.

Rivera's use of recycled materials to create original handbags places her with the new breed of socially conscious designers who have endeavored to go "green." It is no secret that the fashion industry as a whole is constantly researching new ways to become more environmentally friendly.

Using recycled materials to create original designs is certainly not new. However, the greatest challenge to date for an up and coming designer may be the ability to infuse his or her designs with a fresh, funky aesthetic, and to keep the designs fashionable, functional, and original. Evelyn seems to be up to the challenge, creating unique and affordable bags that range in price from $100-$300.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! had the privilege of talking with Ms. Rivera about her edgy designs.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Thank you so much, Evelyn, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to FA'SHOE'NISTA! Why did you choose handbags as opposed to other types of design?

ER: Handbags and shoes are a weakness of mine. I love looking at a fabulous handbag and matching it with a funky pair of shoes. So I thought why not make something you love to have. I didn’t know where to begin to make shoes, so I chose handbags.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! You called the formation of your company your "greatest achievement," and declared that you would "see it through to the end." What motivates you to continue in a business so full of competition?

ER: I think my designs are unique. Though I know everyone says that about whatever they design. But I really do. Making a handbag is actually therapeutic for me. Especially since I currently have a day job, it’s my stress reliever at the end of the day. And it’s definitely what motivates me to make this a successful business.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! I can certainly understand that. What types of materials do you incorporate into your designs?

ER: The foundation of my bags are recycled denim jeans. I then incorporate, leather, suede and whatever hardware I feel inspired to use. The finishing touch are the vibrant linings inside each of my bags. When you open an Everette handbag, I want you to go “wow”…

Everette Handbags
Belted Purse

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Outside of the "green factor," what else inspires you?

ER: I’m inspired by people who have dreams of entrepreneurship and are disciplined to stay focused on their idea to make it a reality. I’m also inspired by my mother, who unfortunately, passed away five months ago. But she was a real fashionista in her early years. She had an awesome collection of vintage handbags, which I now have and treasure very much.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! I'm sorry about your mother. My mother(whom I lost some years back) was a fashionista as well, she used to model for design houses and boutiques back in the 1940's and 50's. Which designers influence you the most? Who are some of your favorites?

ER: Wow…that’s hard. Let’s see, I love Catherine Malandrino, Sissi Rossi, Carlos Falchi, Prada.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! That's interesting, I happen to be a huge fan of Carlos Falchi. His designs are vibrant in color and technically fabulous. I think it's great that you were featured on Handbag Designer 101. How do you get the word out about your bags? Do you have a marketing strategy or is it mostly word of mouth for now?

ER: Well, a friend told me about Handbag 101. So I’m grateful to them for posting my handbag information. Currently, I’m researching opportunities locally where I can showcase my handbags and get a better gauge on the type of audience I want to attract. Right now, it’s all about exposure, so I’ve been blessed to have supportive people in my circle who have offered opportunities. For example, I entered one of my handbags into a charity auction where I got a couple of new clients. I’ve sold several handbags to friends who’ve gotten compliments on my bags and I’ve made bags for some of their friends as well. So currently, it’s word of mouth. There are also a number of emerging designer websites available to showcase your products. I’m currently on Big Cartel I’m also in the process of starting a blog called I also carry one of my bags all the time, which is the best promotion.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! How would you describe your customer base? What type of woman buys your handbags?

ER: The women who buy my handbags range in age from 25-50. She is the stylish, funky, fashion forward woman who knows how to take a funky Everette handbag and pair it with a great pair of jeans or a sexy dress to make that outfit pop. She’s the woman shopping in SOHO in NYC to the woman enjoying great jazz at a Harlem nightclub.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! You talked about a design nightmare that you experienced a while back. If you don't mind, can you talk a little bit about that and how you quickly rectified the issue for your customer? How important is customer service in the scheme of your business?

ER: I made a handbag for the friend of a client. When the person received the bag, parts of it had come apart. I immediately, got the bag back and reinforced the entire bag to make sure every thread, every grommet, every stitch was tight and flawless. I pride myself in making each bag better than the one before it. Customer service is extremely important. It’s your reputation on the line. If I deliver a shoddy product, no one is going to recommend me much less buy my bags.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Tell us about your creative process from start to finish. How do you develop your concept for a particular design?

ER: The concept develops in my head. From there I put the idea on paper and then I begin the creation to make it a tangible product. It’s a great feeling to have an idea come to life and have someone else enjoy your idea as much as you do.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! How did the name "Everette" come about?

ER: Everette is a combination of my first name and my silent partner, Chelsea Ferrette. We both share a passion for handbags and thought this would be a great name. “Handbags of pure jeanious”, is a tagline I added that I thought would give the name a nice spin.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! What is your favorite color?

ER: My favorite color is pumpkin.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! What other types of materials do you enjoy and/or plan to work with and why?

ER: Right now denim is the foundation. And I don’t plan to stray from that because that was my inspiration from the onset. I’m already using leather and suede. So whatever other elements pop into my head is yet to be seen. I want to be able to create a recognizable and identifiable brand.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Do you plan to mass-produce your line in the future?

ER: I’ve thought about it. But am still not sure about that yet. I’ll see what the future holds.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! What is a typical day like for you?

ER: Wow…a typical day is going to my day job, going to the gym most nights, then coming home and working on my handbags and trying to move the business forward. There really aren’t enough hours in the day.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Do you ever see yourself giving up your day job and designing full-time?

ER: That’s my dream. And if I stay focused on this and God continues to bless me, I know it will happen.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Where do you see your company in the next 5 years?

ER: I hope to have my bags in a few boutiques and have built a recognizable brand.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! Okay, here comes the cliché. What advice do you have for aspiring designers such as myself?

ER: Stay focused, be passionate. If you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you may want to rethink it. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from achieving what you want. It can be done.

FA'SHOE'NISTA! thanks Evelyn Rivera of Everette Handbags..."Handbags of Pure Jeanious" for her patience and willingness to take part in this interview.

Evelyn Rivera hails from the Bronx and continues to make her home in New York City. For more information or to place an order visit or contact

(Revisions to this post were made at the request of the Designer)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Style 04/26/09

Hello and good Sunday Morning, my Loverlees. Here is another installment of "My Style." These are my latest purchases that I thought I'd share with you all. What do you think?

I immediately fell in love with these.
I was so happy to find them on sale and
in my size (9-1/2). Yaaay!

Bakers Shoes
"Gabriel" Lt Tan pump
w/hidden platform.
Red Dot Sale Price $29.95

This is about as close as I can
get to Christian Dior right now.
But I love 'em just the same.

Studio HD2
"San Jose" Black
Sale Price $29.99

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Friday!

Hello, my fashionable Loverlees. Hope the beginning of your weekend is deliciously stylish on this 3rd Friday in April. Is the time passing quickly, or what? Today is break day for me since I must start preparing for my return to the grind on Monday. This week off has been busy and quick, chock full of surprises, some good, some not so good.

The not so good: Pop Winans, patriarch of the first family of gospel, the Winans Family, passed away on Wednesday, April 8th. His home going services were held this past Tuesday and Wednesday, April 14th and 15th respectively. Many dignitaries and Clergy attended and it was a grand sending off. Though he had been very ill since October of last year, we were all still devastated by the news. And though we are grateful for the end of his suffering and are aware of where he is (sitting in the lap of Jesus, for he was what one would call a TRUE WORSHIPER), we simply were not ready to let go. A great gospel quartet singer, community activist, and father to his church family, Pop will truly be missed.

The good: I was able to find two very distinct pair of stilettos Wednesday night. After the home going services, I needed a pick me up, had a little extra cash, so I scrambled to the mall and was actually able to find what I wanted. I will do a "My Style" post real soon so that you can share in my good fortune.

Love you all and have a great rest of the weekend.

Ciao, Bellas!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with Mark Schwartz of High Heeled Art

Mark Schwartz
"Champagne and High Heels"
High Heeled Art

I am in awe of the remarkable work of Mark Schwartz. A very talented shoe designer and artist, imagine how honored I was to find a comment from him stating how much he liked my blog, FA'SHOE'NISTA! When I visited his blog, High Heeled Art, vibrant bursts of color, in the form of beautiful shoes and boots mesmerized me. Painting after painting brilliantly captures the essence of every woman's favorite obsession—elegant, sultry stilettos.

Born in New York City, Mark shares his exquisite and eclectic paintings with clients from around the world. He has gleaned inspiration from the likes of Andy Warhol and Roger Vivier and I am so happy that he took time out of his busy schedule for this interview.

FA'SHOE'NISTA: Tell us about your professional background.

Mark: I started as an assistant designer to Roger Vivier whom I worked for and wound up being his creative director for about 5 years. From there I went on to design for a multitude of fashion houses and shoe companies for about a decade and then did my own line out of Italy under Mark Schwartz, and I had a store in Soho, New York City. I still design for a handful of clients in Europe and a few here in the states. I balance my shoe design with my artwork.

FA'SHOE'NISTA: You have designed shoes for many of the big names in fashion, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Balenciaga, just to name a few. What is that like?

Mark: Designing for some of the bigger houses can be very rewarding. It is a bit more of a collaborative effort which I find can be good for any designer. For me, design is a personal thing. I was taught by Vivier that your shoe designs had to have there own personality. If you strive for that, people will recognize your work!

FA'SHOE'NISTA: I read somewhere that you are Oprah's favorite shoe designer. Have you ever been on her show? What has that done for your exposure as a designer. Has it made much of a difference?

Mark: I was Oprah's favorite for a while. This was a good thing, she had asked me to do some custom shoes and boots for her 50th birthday. She has used my shoes on her show in some fashion shows and also took the time out to stop everything in the middle of her show to show off the shoes I designed for her. She has been very good to me in the past and I am very grateful for that.

Mark Schwartz
High Heeled Art

FA'SHOE'NISTA: You have been designing for 20 plus years. When did you first discover that shoes were your passion?

Mark: I think that I discovered shoes were my passion through Vivier and Warhol. They both pushed me and believed in me. I was in my early twenties then, but yes that is where the fire was lit.

FA'SHOE'NISTA: I almost hate to say this, but I feel I have to ask. Of course, you know, "No Comment" is always an option for you. Has anyone compared you to that other shoe designer whose sketches are considered art in their own right? If so, has that affected you creatively in any way?

Mark: Ok, yes sometimes I am compared to the other shoe designer that makes wonderful artistic sketches as well. It has not affected my creativity in any way. I respect what he does and I think it is great. I try to give my work it's own direction and personality and I feel that set's us both apart. I do, however, have a lot of respect for Manolo Blahnik.

FA'SHOE'NISTA: I recently visited your site Shoes as Idea, and found even more beautiful paintings and sketches, as well as pictures of your work in contemporary interior settings. How is the artwork featured on this site different from what we see on High Heeled Art?

Mark: I recently changed all of my work over to the High Heeled Art site. It is where I feature my most recent work. Shoes as Idea is a bit of a different period for me. It was a good place and a lot came from that site, press etc., etc. I feel that with High Heeled Art I have found the balance of where I want to be with my artwork and where I want to take it over the next decade or so.

FA'SHOE'NISTA: Tell us about your process of creation from inception to finished product.

Mark: Well, a lot of my ideas come from shoes I have already designed in the past. I look for creative ways to approach them and present them, that has always been my idea! I never do a practice sketch or rough sketch, I prefer to just draw on watercolor paper and then create from there. I use a pencil and then usually just paint with my brush. I do have my own little methods when using colors and blending. I even mix watercolor with inks, etc.
Sometimes you get a wonderful reaction and the piece looks great. It is all instinct, just a way of life for me!

Mark Schwartz
"Cherub with Red Pump"
High Heeled Art

FA'SHOE'NISTA: It's kind of that way for me too, when I create. I rarely do preliminaries. You were mentored by such artistic giants as Andy Warhol and Roger Vivier, for whom you worked as an assistant designer and creative director. What or who else has inspired you over the years and how do you remain fresh and vital as an artist?

Mark: I was very lucky to have Vivier and Warhol in my corner. I have other influences as well, I love Jackson Pollock as a painter, Louboutin as a shoe designer, Blahnik. How does one remain fresh? By becoming stale! What I mean by that is, we all go through creative high's and low's, no one can avoid that, trust me on that! I think for me it's just something that is born inside of you, it just comes out stronger at different times in your life.

FA'SHOE'NISTA: Who are your clients: for your designs? For your paintings? Do they overlap?

Mark: My clients for my paintings vary, they are collected mostly buy people that just love and appreciate shoes in an artistic mode. My works are in some shops, shoe boutiques, lot's of collectors homes, celebs. I have a nice following there as well, very nice following there. I love the fact that they are collected by both men and women as well, even in a bunch of medical offices and hospitals! Shoes must bring joy!

FA'SHOE'NISTA: What is your favorite place on planet earth?

Mark: My favorite place on the planet earth is in my heart!

Mark Schwartz
High Heeled Art

FA'SHOE'NISTA: Wow! What a great answer. How does your personal life compare to your work life. Do the two intertwine or do you try to keep them separate?

Mark: My personal life works with my work life. I have a great 8 year old son who loves to watch me paint or design shoes. He actually sometimes will take some of my shoe designs to school for show and tell!

FA'SHOE'NISTA: That's got to make you feel great. What is a typical day like for you?

Mark: A typical day I always do a painting!! I post it on the site and work on shoe designs for my clients, then I do another painting!!

FA'SHOE'NISTA: After so many years of success, where will the next phase of your career take you?

Mark: I want to do more with the shoe paintings and I will. I want to see them in hotel's and more public places. I am working on that now. I will always look for new ways to develop my artwork. I really get a special charge when someone likes my work or purchases it, that never goes away!

FA'SHOE'NISTA: What type of advice would you give to aspiring business owners, fashion or otherwise?

Mark: Well, I know that everyone has heard this before, but if you don't believe in yourself you will never make it! It really is the best advise out there!!

I totally agree. Thank you so much, Mark, for your time and patience. Your work is simply magnificent and my readers and I look forward to seeing more of your creative genius.

Mark Schwartz
"My Other Plate"
High Heeled Art

For more information on Mark Schwartz's beautiful work, visit High Heeled Art

High Heeled Art

Monday, April 13, 2009

Givenchy and Rihanna: A Match made in Shoe Heaven, or that other place?

Rihanna in Givenchy's gladiator boot.
Photo courtesy of

Good Monday everyone. I'm on vacation this week, at least from my 9 to 5 grind. So today, during my online fashion research, who do I run into, but my favorite (I hope she comes to her senses)hip-hop, fashion diva, Rihanna. Paired with extreme fashion forward footwear in the form of Givenchy's Gladiator Boot, the diva and the designer make for an eye-catching collaboration.

I've read numerous reviews of this particular design and opinions have been mixed. While the gladiator has never been a personal choice of mine in the past, I love these, and if given the chance (and the moolah) I would scoop them up in a heartbeat and find a way to wear them the same day. But then, that's just my crazy self. I say, if you've got the right look, go for it. What do you think, my Loverlees? Are these a do or a don't? Strictly celebrity, or can real-world fashion divas pull these off?

Shoes that make you go hmmmm...

Givenchy Black leather gladiators
Photo courtesy:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Resurrection Sunday! (Easter)

Photo courtesy of U.S. Copts Association

Hello, my Loverlees. Just wanted to wish you all a wonderfully blessed Resurrection Sunday, or Easter for some of you.

This is the day that we celebrate the Gift of God, the death, burial, and most importantly, the RESURRECTION of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He died that I might live again! Hallelujah! What's so wonderful is that, what He did for one, He did for all!

I hope you take just a little time out of your day to celebrate the One who gave the ultimate sacrifice!

Have a great day, my Bellas!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Style

Hello, my Loverlees. Just wanted to share my latest purchase with you. I found these little black ballet-toe pumps at DSW and fell in love. Got them for a great price as well. Hopefully, this is the first of many posts that will fall under the "My Style" category. As I continue to evolve as a stylish 50 year old, I'll try to share more of my own looks with you all.

Love you, my stylish femmes!
Ciao Bellas!

Shoes: diba