It took a session creating a bear in a teddy workshop that gave fashion entrepreneur Lana Hopkins her business ‘light bulb’ moment.
“I was creating a bear for my nephew complete with the birth certificate and the whole deal and it just reiterated the love I have for customisation,” says Lana.
With that in mind — and a love for designer handbags (but not their unrealistic prices) Lana started to sew the seed for her own business.
“I couldn’t afford the bags worth thousands of dollars, as much as I would have loved to and I wanted a good quality, mid-market bag but something that was uniquely ‘mine’.
Enter Mon Purse — her company that has now sold tens of thousands of personally embossed, initialled or bespoke bags.
All of Lana’s bags are made in Europe — in Turkey which happens to be one of the world’s leather capitals — and she is determined and committed not to ever compromise on quality or style.
“I wanted them to smell like they are from Europe in beautiful calf leather,” Lana smiles.
“Like you had bought it on the via Condotti in Italy.”
Lana’s business is definitely satiating the current consumer appetite for customised products. Remember the personalised jars of Nutella from last Christmas? Well, they ended up being the top-selling Chrissie item in Myer stores. And who could forget the name your own Coke campaign.
While customisation is a current trend and isn’t exactly new, Lana agrees it’s the ‘old-school’ ‘bespoke’, ‘monogrammed’ and ‘handmade’ vibe that has made it come back to the fore.
“When someone can choose their own bag shape, leather colour, hardware (zips and accessories) it makes the piece feel that more special and more ‘theirs’,’’ she adds.
“I want to be a billboard for Lana not Louis Vuitton!”
Lana says the 3D technology she is using is making customisation easier to navigate and available to everyone.
“Our bag builder technology makes it easy to be able to choose and totally tailor a bag, clutch or even passport holder that you exactly want, simply by choosing your own leather texture, grain, colour, accessories, zips and size.”
Aside from the success of Mon Purse, we can all logo and customise our shoes at Jodie Fox’s mega successful Shoes of Prey; design a surfboard at Disrupt Surfingand even mix up some muesli at Muesli for Me.
“I think a company like ours is just a great contrast to all the mass-produced pieces out there,’’ adds Lana.
Starting from a small site in Sydney’s Paddington, Lana now employs 30 people, has her own freestanding store and has struck a deal with retailer Myer that will see her in all major stores nationally.
“Our online business is really (going) incredibly well and quite simply what we are constantly hearing is that people are telling us what ‘they’ want as opposed to the other way around.”
And yes, conquering the global bag world is on Lana’s agenda and the way she is going, that just may happen.
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