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Emily Blumenthal at book signing of Handbag Designer 101

Handbag Designer 101 is the bible for designers who aspire to make their bags. The book includes 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. Handbag Designer 101 teaches you everything you need to know, from designing to making to marketing.

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 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 they should carry next.” She has been a speaker at various events and panels, talking about everything from handbags to handbags in NFTs to the industry overall. She has also been an adjunct professor at LIM College, 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. Recently, CFDA member Brandon Blackwood won the Best Retail Handbag in 2019.  Aimee Kestenberg, a mainstay on QVC, won IHDA categories with Swarovski in 2010 and again in 2012 with Kipling. Si Young KimVice 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 famous sports bag brand, were the Best Overall Handbag in Style and Design finalists. (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 due to 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 allow them to scale and grow their brands, and The Handbag Designer Society - the first web3 platform for handbag designers.


Emily is also launching her second book, "Savvy Suzanna and Her Amazing Adventure in Handbags." Join Suzanna in her entrepreneurial escapades as she turns her creative ideas into thriving businesses. From selling painted shells to opening a backyard salon, Suzanna's ventures are boundless. Her journey takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a treasure trove of old handbags. Fueled by determination and creativity, she repurposes these treasures, filling her hippopotamus bank and sparking a newfound passion for handbags. Despite setbacks, including a bag mishap during a crucial moment, Suzanna's resilience and her mother's encouragement led her to a local sewing class to make her bags for herself. Her handmade masterpiece catches the eye of a boutique owner, marking the start of Suzanna's triumphant journey as a neighborhood designer under her brand, Suzanna Bags. Welcome to Suzanna’s Amazing Adventures in Handbags.  

Emily's dedication also extends to kidpreneurship, empowering children of all ages to embrace their inner "Savvy Suzanna." She resides happily in New York City's Lower East Side with her husband and three children. Emily is a mom of three and happily resides with her family in the Lower East Side of NYC. 


You can also discover young talent with Emily's brand, CharmstersNYC, a diversity-based animation brand rooted in inclusivity, joy, and empowerment that shows teamwork knows no boundaries.

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From inception, to shelf, to repeat business, Emily has worked with handbag and accessory brands at all levels.

Interested in booking a consulting session, requesting information on the handbag market, hiring Emily for a speaking engagement, or wanting to discuss the Handbag Awards?

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