Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest Feature: Not Just Handbags

Today please welcome Elissa of Not Just Handbags.

Elissa has a fabulous assortment of beautiful handmade handbags as well as accessories such as headbands, broaches and clutches. I love her style- simple and vintage-inspired. Welcome, Elissa! :)

Tell us about yourself.
I am 39 and married with two children. I have a serious fabric and button addiction!

How long have you been creating things and what inspired you to begin creating things?
I have been creative since childhood and have always sought to make things, usually because we couldn’t afford them. I loved art and sewing at school and planned to go to art college to study textiles, however, the art teacher had other ideas and this was not to be. A few years ago after a period of creating handmade cards a colleague at work suggested I go part time to my local art college. This turned out to be a defining moment in my life as I realised that this is what I had been needing for a long time. My creativity returned and I now feel as though I am complete.

What is your shop name and what do you sell?

My shop is called Not Just Handbags and it is a collection of unique and original handmade handbags and accessories. I create handbags and accessories that I would wear or use.

How long have you been selling online?

I have been selling online since September 2009.

Describe your creative process: How, when, materials, etc.

I am inspired by many things, usually materials and fabric. This can be in the form of an unused piece of clothing or an old curtain. My favourite place is my local charity shop where you can find all manor of lovely pieces of material and after that my mind goes into overdrive!

Do you promote your shop? How?
I like to think I am in the premier league of promotion as I use.. ok deep breath... Facebook, Twitter, Craft Juice, Craft Gawker, Blog, Forums, Folksy, Etsy, Website, leaflets, business cards... I may have left something out?

Do you sell your items anywhere else (such as boutiques, craft fairs, etc)? Where?
This year I have booked a few craft fairs and did my first one on the 18th April. It was a lovely event as it was organised at a local mill that has been turned into an arts centre. The day was an open studio event as well as a craft fair so there was lots of lovely arts people wandering about. I had an excellent day and all my fears were unfounded as I received a lot of nice feedback.

What keeps your creative juices flowing? How or what are you inspired by?
I love visiting art galleries and reading fashion magazines, however, I don’t agree with following fashion. I believe that everyone should find their own sense of style and only buy things because you like the design or colour of them and not because someone famous has one.

When you hit a creative wall (not feeling like creating, or what to create, etc) how do you get your creative juices flowing again?
I love to doodle and especially with my sewing machine! I empty out my large fabric box and literally sit piecing together pieces of fabric until I find something I like. I also like to play with shapes and will draw them on brown paper until I find something I am happy with that I think will make a nice bag shape. I also don’t think about designs too much, I think you should go with your instinct and if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped at least you tried.

How do you keep track of things that inspire you or ideas you have?
I have a sketch book that I stick things in that I have ripped out of magazines and I also use this for my doodles and drawing over the magazine snippets to make them into something that I like.

What challenges do you sometimes face when creating?
I have arthritis and sometimes when I have bad flare ups I can maybe only cut out one bag at a time. This means that I have to maybe concentrate on the design side until the flare up subsides and I can carry on. Also, lack of space I create on my dining table and things get a little messy!

What goals do you have for your shop?
At the moment more sales! Due to the economic situation money is tight for everyone so some more sales would be lovely to fund my fabric addiction.

What advice would you give to someone who is new to selling online?
Don’t just open your shop or website and assume that customers will find you. You need to promote, promote, and promote- it is time consuming, especially when you are trying to juggle it with creating, oh and also trying to run a home! This is where multi-tasking definitely comes in handy. I would also say that don’t just use the promotion as tools to sell, you need to build up relationships with other creative folk and this will lead to you helping each other out in terms of widening your promotion net!

Thank you Elissa! Be sure to check out her shop and other links and leave some love :)
Etsy Shop
Folksy Shop


  1. Love these bags they are so different.

  2. These are really nice bags, they are so shabby-chic!

  3. Fun! I visited her shops, great bags =)

  4. Thanks again for the feature Ashley! Also, thanks for the lovely comments ladies! Elissa x