What was your concentration at Pratt and when did you know you would be designing bags?
After a college fair at my fine art HS, I was absolutely certain I wanted to a) live in Brooklyn and b) be a Pratt Student. I made that happen and I majored in fashion at Pratt. It wasn’t until after graduating that I found my calling in the bag world.
One of our favorite bags on the planet is your Annie Duffel. It is so functional and light, yet chic and sturdy. What are the most important aspects of a bag that go into your thought process?
Oh, thank you! I really try to think of the needs of women who would most likely carry my designs. Functionality is extremely important, especially when you’re spending hard-earned money on a quality leather bag. I really wanted a versatile city bag so I designed the Annie with several pockets (both easy access and zippered pockets) and a top zipper closure for security. But my favorite aspect of the Annie is the different ways you can wear it and the size- not too large, not too small.
Why did you decide to rebrand from SML Bags to an eponymous label?
My design esthetic evolved in many ways. I shifted towards a more modern, sophisticated look. Because of that, there were many design details I couldn’t execute on my own so finding a manufacture was key for me. I like to think that my brand just grew-up a bit.
Have you seen any trends in handbags since you started SML in 1999? Any trends that you can’t believe today you followed?
Hardware. I’ve never really been drawn towards tons of hardware on bags but I certainly know it was a thing. Who wants to carry a bag that weighs 5 lbs with nothing in it?
Who or what is your inspiration when designing and how is that expressed in your final product?
My inspiration comes from many outlets but mainly, city women. I like to watch how women carry their bags, what colors they wear/carry, what they throw in their bags, etc. I’ll design bags based on certain days or activities.
All of your bags are made in the U.S.! How did you find your factory?
I get asked that a lot and all I can say is I did lots of research. It took time, many ignored emails and phone calls, but in the end that perseverance paid off. Luckily, there are new companies/websites devoted to finding and celebrating domestic manufactured such as https://makersrow.com.
Brooklyn is a big part of your life. What are your favorite things to do in Brooklyn when you aren’t working? Any hidden favorite spots?
My husband and I are in a shuffleboard league with our good friends so every Monday night you can find me at Royal Palms (Our team name is the Swift Biscuits). Now neighborhood mainstays, I’m a sucker for Prime Meats and Frankies and I love to walk on Atlantic Ave to check out the many independent boutiques. When it’s nice outside, the hubs and I like to walk with our dog, Jackie, over to Dumbo to get burgers at Shake Shack- did you know they also make dog treats? Win for all of us! And then there’s Empanada Lady, a Carroll Gardens hidden gem. On Saturdays she sets up her little stand on Sackett St and sells the best homemade food which comes straight from her kitchen, just steps away. I don’t know her name and she’s not there every Saturday but when she is, I make it a point to go get some empanadas. She’s the best.
If you could only pick one of your bags to wander about Brooklyn with which would it be?
My new William Tote Jr, which is in production now at my Brooklyn manufacturer. I’ve updated the design and I can’t wait to debut it!
Congratulations on the new baby on the way! Any plans for designing diaper bags next?
Thanks! My mom text me the other day saying I forgot to register for a diaper bag. I laughed and reminded her of my profession! Yes, there are plans to design a diaper bag but coming close to being a first time mom, I’m not sure when those plans will actually take shape. Having said that, I think a few of my current designs might work well for toting around extra stuff for baby- perhaps William Tote and the June Tote.