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”…
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 http://everette.handbags.bigcartel.com. I’m also in the process of starting a blog called http://purseptions.blogspot.com 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 http://everette.handbags.bigcartel.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Revisions to this post were made at the request of the Designer)