"The Handbag Fairy Godmother"
Handbag Designer 101 is the bible for handbag designers who aspire to make their own bags. Included in the book are instructions for creating the fifteen essential bag styles—clutch, hobo, tote, and more—made simple with easy-to-follow how-to illustrations, suggested difficulty levels, and color photography. Advice from famous bag designers and today’s hottest indie designers accompany each pattern. Also included is the inside scoop on turning your handbag hobby into a successful business. From designing to making, to marketing, Handbag Designer 101 teaches you everything you need to know.
Author, Emily Blumenthal has been called the "The Handbag Fairy Godmother" by InStyle Magazine, and the New York Times. For over twenty years, Emily has been at the center of handbags made by designers that are not “labels.” She started out as an independent handbag designer with her brand Yasmena, which was discovered through the Henri Bendel Open See Designer Casting Call, which was featured in Sex & the City, major magazines, and sold in top retail stores like Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, and Bergdorf Goodman. This led to multiple licensing deals, with her diffusion line called the Yazzy Bag sold to Macy's, Dillard's, and QVC. Emily consulted for handbag brands big and small, worked with the investment community to understand handbag trends, and answered calls from retailers on “which designers should they carry next.” She has been a speaker at a variety of events and panels talking about everything handbags, handbags in NFTs, and the industry overall. She also has been an adjunct professor at LIM College, at Parsons The New School for Design, and most recently Entrepreneurship at The Fashion Institute of Technology where she was the first female hire in that department.
In 2007, Emily created The Independent Handbag Designer Awards where we discovered great talent. Recent CFDA member, Brandon Blackwood won the Best Retail Handbag in 2019. Aimee Kestenberg who is a mainstay on QVC won IHDA categories with Swarovski in 2010, and again in 2012 with Kipling. Si Young Kim, who is the Vice President and Head of Design for Women's and Men's Leather Goods for Ralph Lauren, won the Best Student category with Henri Bendel in 2010. In 2015, Carmen Chen Wu and Aaron Luo of Caraa, a popular sports bag brand were finalists for the Best Overall Handbag in Style and Design. (Fun fact, Rebecca Minkoff applied to the Handbag Awards in 2008.) Sugandh Agrawal of GUNAS is now the first Indian-American-owned, vegan handbag brand carried at Macy’s as a result of her win in 2018. In 2023, Emily co-created The Signal Brands Collective, the first incubator for handbag designers to educate and foster handbag talent, and give them an opportunity to scale and grow their brands; and The Handbag Designer Society - the first web3 platform for handbag designers.
Kidpreneurship has become a passion project for Emily, not only as a mother of three but also as an entrepreneur who wants to empower children to be their own best version of themselves. Because there was no go-to spot for kids, young adults, and parents alike to see what is possible when someone really puts their mind to truly making a difference, she created an Instagram account, “Savvy Suzanna” to keep track of successful and inspiring kidpreneurs and is now the go-to discover young talent as well as "CharmstersNYC" the diversity-based animation brand rooted in inclusivity, joy, and empowerment to show teamwork knows no boundaries.
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