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Sarah Colonna of Clutch Women on Handbag Designer 101 Podcast Every Tuesday

Updated: Mar 8



Emily Blumenthal

Host

00:00

Hi and welcome to the Handbag Designer 101 podcast with your host, Emily Blumenthal, handbag designer expert and handbag fairy godmother, where we cover everything about handbags, from making, marketing, designing and talking to handbag designers and industry experts about what it takes to make a successful handbag. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

00:22

Welcome, Sarah Colonna, to Handbag Designer 101, the podcast. I think, from celebrity standards, you have hit that tipping point. We have officially made it for 2024. Starting it on a high note, this is the clutch to well, we'll get into that, but welcome, welcome, welcome. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

00:42

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I've been looking forward to this. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

00:46

So you, by trade, are not a handbag designer. You know I could say what you've done, but you know, as long as you've accomplished it all, you might as well share everything you've done, because it is vast. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

00:58

Well, thank you. It feels weird to plug yourself, but that's what you're supposed to do, right? Plug, plug, plug. Yeah, I started as an actress and a stand-up comedian and took a long time to start making money. I was obviously bartending during a lot of that time. Are you a good bartender? I was a really good bartender. I have to say Like really good, fast, probably a little bit bitchy, a little like give me your order of trying to make money here. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

01:23

And you memorize the track of drinks. Because when I cocktail waitress that's how I crashed my parents' car was memorizing the drink mix and I was a high-performing student but a terrible waitress that I had all of the drinks in order written on my arm and I crashed my parents' car as I was studying. When I'm going to reverse, oh my God. Yeah, because at the fast place places you had to know the orders that the drinks were made by the level of alcohol. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

01:47

Oh right, yes, Okay, I was more. I sort of cheated my way into it and I sort of pretended that I knew what I was doing. And then I just watched other bartenders and then I would, like you know, study what was in drinks on the side your band, nobody was any the wiser. And then if I ever got something wrong, I would be like, oh, sorry, I misheard you. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:06

And then I'd go, you know, like Are you too drunk to understand that you were wrong at me? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

02:10

Exactly, it was you. It was you you misordered, so yeah, and then I started getting paid to do standup and act. And then I got on Chelsea Lately, which was definitely my big break. The talk show that was on I know you're familiar, but maybe not everyone is, but that was on E and I was a comedian on that show and then they ended up hiring me as a full time writer and that really, as it did for a lot of comedians, catapulted a lot of people's career because it was a lot of exposure. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:36

Was that one of those moments? Just to like go back to that, because living in New York City, because I've been on a couple shows I was on how Do I Look and the funny thing, it's a whole other story. It's a whole other. But the costume stylist that they had for the intervention was an actress slash stylist and if she was in New York it'd be the other way around by default. But the wild thing is, in LA she didn't eat the entire week and I'm like what? And then I realized like people do coke in the morning there, but that's like a whole other conversation. I was like, oh, that's why you're not hungry For new. So yeah, that was my venture, that everybody in LA is trying to do something and that must be stressful in itself. Just to live there every day knowing that like everybody is doing the same thing. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

03:24

It is. I mean, it's split up in some ways. Obviously some people are trying to be on the director side or the writing side, but it does feel overwhelming. I mean, I moved here from Arkansas right out of college and I thought I didn't realize that. So every for Walmart, I mean you know what? It might have been an easier route to making the money and not having to bar it center the main side of my. But yeah, I basically was. 

03:48

Once I started working at bars and restaurants, I realizing everyone was trying to do it, I thought, oh God, what am I doing? Thinking I can stand out in the crowd. But I always wanted to do it and I just I'm. Thankfully I never gave up and thankfully I had family who supported me not giving up. So I stuck it out and then, yeah, finally getting the job that I had a bunch of little jobs and some good jobs, but I still had to bartend because people would even recognize me from a guest store on something and they'd say why are you bartending? And I'm like because I got paid one time for that one job and that's very long. So it was until I got on Chelsea and had a full time writing job that I was finally like salary and benefits. 

04:28

you could breathe, yes yes, and you can actually breathe and it was great. So, and from there and when that show ended, everything kept going and I wrote a couple of books. So I'm a New York Times bestselling author to something I never thought I'd get to say, but I get to say it forever. My book agent. I remember when I hit the bestsellers list he called me and he said this is a credit they can never take away from you. They can never say like maybe if you don't just stand up anymore, maybe they would call you a former comedian, maybe they would say a former actress. They can never say you were always a New York Times bestselling author and I was like great, I'm always going to say that credit I'm never going to say that first. 

05:03

You should say that first, no matter what I know right, and it's a pretty big deal. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

05:06

So yeah, new York Times bestselling author comma and a standup and a handbag designer. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

05:15

And a handbag designer, which I definitely never expected or saw coming, but I'm very, very proud of that accomplishment too. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

05:23

So you were working through you. Obviously you know the narrative of how people become designers is obviously not a straight path. It's not never, ever linear right. It's usually typically out of a solution or a need or being in an environment where you realize like, hey, I see a hole in the market. And it's so fascinating that the most of responsible people, when they get this idea, everything kind of falls to the curb. It's like oh, this doesn't make sense at all. I have no experience, no background. I'm doing this, I'm obsessed. You can't tell me I'm wrong. I'm going to spend all this money, jump in, lose everything on a learning curve, but guess what? I'm still going. I'm obsessed. So I mean mildly familiar with how all this came to be. But you want to talk a little bit about that. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

06:08

Yes, so I and it's definitely. We came from exactly what you said seeing a hole and a need for something. But so my husband is a former NFL player. When we met he was playing. He was a punter for the Seahawks. He played for Green Bay before that. He had a very long NFL career and I've always been a big sports fan. I've always done the sporting events, but I hadn't really until I don't think I'd been going to professional football games for quite a while. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

06:33

Do you want to be with him. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

06:34

Oh God, I love it. It's so much fun. My dad was a sports editor, so I grew up going to baseball games and baseball is always my first love. And they don't have a. Really until recently, most of them didn't have a bag policy. It was kind of a whatever, because baseball like so family oriented and it's really hard to restrict it, I think. But anyway, so it wasn't ever really much thinking about a bag policy. And so when I met my husband 10 years ago, then I started going regularly to Seahawks games and their bag policy is the all clear policy, which is very challenging because people think that means your bag has to be clear, but it doesn't have to be. Very clearly states that you can bring in a clutch that is four by five by six by five, very specific. And I was just bringing a clear bag at first because I wasn't even trying to think about how to come up with it Was that a weird transition that you'd always brought. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

07:26

You dressed your look for, I mean, as a woman, we dress typically stems up or bag. We're reverse engineered by the bag. So if you're wearing, you know. And to get into the intricacies of how a bag is made and the retail, anthropological designing of it, you know you're going to a football game. You know. No matter what, you need a bag that you can wear at either cross body or, as they go, with the shoulder, and has a lot of a high drop to accommodate or has the capacity to fit everything that they need in those very minor dimensions. So right. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

07:59

So I was going in with like their little clear bags that they sold in the NFL store or whatever, and the first day that I really was like what am I doing? It was on my period and I was like this. I mean not that obviously it's not something to be ashamed of, but nobody necessarily wants to run around with their tampons on display and then I was like now they would, but maybe not that. 

08:22

Well, yeah, but or your medication or your credit cards or how much cash you're carrying or all this stuff. And I was like I'll just like right there in these clear bags, and to find something that was not clear to fit those dimensions is really almost impossible and they're very strict about it. I mean you put it down on a little size or, and if it is just even like an inch over, you got to go to a locker. I kept seeing people get turned away, people that didn't understand the policy, know the policy. 

08:47

And I have a really good friend who has been in the fashion industry a long time, my friend Erica, and she's really good friends with a handbag designer, maria Zarian, and her company is M and Ania. She makes beautiful handbags and she lives in Burbank, california. I live in Sherman Oaks, not far from each other. So I reached out to my friend Erica and I said can you put me in touch with Maria? I want to talk to her about this idea that I have, because I said to my husband why am I not making bags that fit these dimensions? I should. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

09:15

Did you grow shopping for one Like specifically I? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

09:18

have, yeah, many times, and mostly I would find something, but it wouldn't be like the right depth, it would just barely fit anything, or like a little you know something and then. But also I would just grab something that's kind of a throwaway. And then I'm thinking I'm going to games all the time, why don't I have one bag that I can always bring and that's nice, that's gonna last. So I met with Maria and she said, yeah, we can do this, and so obviously I give you the designing part. She was very, very much a big part of because I don't know how to do that right. So she, I sat with her and talked her through it and we went back and forth for you know a few months obviously, on the design and what it would look like and all the different things you could do, and she did the drawing part and helped me develop it and I finally got to where I was satisfied with it. 

10:05

It's deep enough, because they don't really have a rule on the depth. Yeah, some hockey games do. Now they say one inch. So I started making wristlets too, and it's just, they really make it complicated for women to have a nice time. But NFL and concerts, college stadiums. They all have this same role, that it's gotta be four by five by six by five, and they don't say about the depth, so it doesn't get you know in with those dimensions. It's not like you can make it super wide. It would look weird, but it's deep enough and it does. 

10:33

If it's your phone, there's a little pocket, definitely, so you can put your credit card in your license or your cash or whatever separate Not that anyone carries cash anymore, but I was like it needs to have enough room for my phone. You know, some lipstick during the game, whatever little thing, tampons maybe if you have to carry medication. I have a few customers that are like I, always have to carry insulin medication and it was important to them that they get to actually just not have to showcase that. So they love this too. So there's a lot of reasons to wear it. But also just stylish was important to me, right? I wanted it to be stylish and then the big factor being that most football still a lot of football stadiums especially me I was going in Seattle or outside. If I'm gonna spend money on it, I don't want it to be ruined. So water resistant, stain resistant, bags that can last, and that all became very important. 

11:26

And then I said I would love to be able to wear it. So it's cross body, obviously you can also do it on your shoulder. I said we got to make these straps really long so they can accommodate anybody tall, short, big, wide. Whatever we got going on, we need to make sure people can wear them. And that was one of my girlfriends is very tall and she said a cross body just like almost never works for her because people never make the straps long enough. So we have that. They're adjustable. And then I wanted to be able to wear it at the waist. So we came up with on the back there's a sleeve, a convertible element. Yeah, so you can take off the strap and you can pull it through the sleeve on the back and then you can just wear it around your waist. Hands free at a football game is definitely key. Obviously it'd be hands free with cross body, but there's just this freedom when you can just put it around your waist and run around and not think about your bag anymore. So go ahead. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

12:14

Just to ask you a little bit about the process, because I've worked with so many, I've dealt with so many. I myself have gone through being an quote unquote independent designer. I have this aversion to saying emerging, because I don't like that, because then that means you never have a chance to emerge per se. So like when you found Maria, being that she is an established designer, did you set terms with her saying I'm going to pay you as a contracted designer? Or did you go and say do you want a partner? Was it awkward? Or how did you present it with her to her? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

12:46

You know, that's a really great question and we basically worked out. A contracted designer would say she didn't and I use. She has her own factory and that became a really big part of it too. So I still work with her. I have everything made at her factory in Burbank and now In California, yeah, so that was important to me. I like to keep them made in the USA. I think it's just a nice way to be able to say I'm also getting you know, making something here and keeping people employed as best I can, or around this situation, and also, I think for football fans they would love to hear that and also for me, because I was just starting with all this. It was a way to be able to I can visit the factory. 

13:28

Yeah, I could see I could hands on. I wasn't getting something shipped to me. You know from overseas that then I would have to. I could be really hands on. I could walk into her factory, and which was really cool. I mean, the day they started production on them, I went there and decided to watch them start making these bags and I was like this is really cool. This is. I can't believe we did this, you know. So she basically I paid her to help design and then I keep the business with them and so yeah, so in terms of, I mean, like anything, everything comes down to connections and relationships, right? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

14:02

So without her, the barriers to entry would have been massive, right? And LA has. You're very fortunate because LA is one of the cities that happens to have affordable production, and you know, to manufacture LA is actually cheaper than manufacturing in New York, which a lot of people don't know, but that's true because there's still a lot of local manufacturers that exist. Claire V still does it. You know there's a lot of designers that do that, but you know to come up with this idea. I'm sure you had an idea like okay, if these customers are going to these games, it's a certain kind of demographic. Did you do like actual competitive analysis, research or demographic research? Or like, okay, she, he, they, whomever the customer is, is typically within this range, this range, or they're earning this amount, or were you like this is who they are? I haven't got, this is how much I think they'd be willing to pay. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

14:59

So no, I did no research on that. I did basically from my experience, right. So I know that there's season seat holders that go to every game that would definitely invest in a bag that they're going to keep and I say invest as if it's like a huge. You know they're a higher price point because they're made here and because the material is nice, but it's not if you're to me. I know a lot of people are repeat game customers, right. So that's really my target market. 

15:30

For the most part, if you're going to one game, you're probably going to buy the clear bag, and just you know if you're never going to go again, and that's fine. But for people that attend them also, they double as your concert bag, like this summer. I mean, god bless Taylor Swift. I sold so many bands because people were going to Taylor Swift concert and she's in stadiums that have that rule and they didn't want to muck up their outfit with a clear bag, and I'm not, you know. So there's some companies that make really fun ones and so I'm not trying to, you know. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

15:58

It is what it is. You can say it yeah, to be an early adopter in something is no small feat, so I think that in itself is pretty admirable. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

16:06

Yeah. But I mean people make some cute clear bags, right. They're as best they can, but definitely a lot of people are, you know, like a Taylor Swift, Beyonce to. They had stadium tours this summer and people would want, you know, a nice bag to go with their outfit that they spent all these money for their tickets on, Right. So I definitely found that market and that's been over the past I'd say three or four years that I've noticed more post pandemic, yeah, and people going to you know these concerts are back and people are needing something for that. 

16:37

So to that point, I started off with and maybe I should have done the research on this. To be honest, I started off with a lot of two tone bags, right. So I basically we started with, obviously because I was in Seattle. We started with the Seahawks colors, like blue bag with green sides. They're so cute. I'm obsessed with these bags. There's also like a navy and red one, because what we did was target the bigger market teams but also ones that could be used for other teams. So like there's a light blue and red that could be the Giants, that could be the bills and that could be the Cubs. That could be Right. 

17:13

So, finding things that would be the only ones very specific, probably they couldn't. Well, that's not true, because I have a green and yellow. That's Packers, because they're such they just deck out there. You know, you just kind of look at these teams that like deck out for the games, but also it's like the Oregon Ducks are those colors and there's some college teams that the other college teams, those colors. So I really went with trying to find people that would, and the blue and green were very easy for me to sell because I was able to do a lot of press in Seattle and talk about them. So once you're able to explain, you can bring this bag into the stadium and it's stain water resistant and you're going to be able to use it forever and it's going to fit all your needs. And then, okay, people, it's easy for people to purchase. It's really the messaging. 

17:55

I think that has been the hardest part for me. Anyway, I'm off track. But so I made all these two-tone ones and they sell and they're very popular and they're really adorable bags. But I did find that people really gravitate towards the traditional colors. Yeah, they just want either a black or a solid blue. I make a solid red, that's just I love. But they really want that because if you're going to spend the $105 on it, you want it to be a cream. No, I haven't done a cream yet, but I know it's been suggested. 

18:24

Sure, yeah, it's almost a seasonless color by the way, fyi, fyi, I just did a denim and that was the first time I did something that wasn't from the vegan stain and water-resistant material. Obviously, denim is denim, so did you make it coated? It's not coated, no, but it's really sturdy really and it's just like a spot clean denim. They're so cute and those actually were very popular for concerts and I think they'll be very popular when festival season comes right. They're going to be. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

18:56

Did you look into this? I'm sorry, I have a billion questions. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

18:59

I hope this is okay because I no, it is, but I just know that I probably didn't, whatever you're about to ask. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

19:07

I mean being this one of one and realizing like, okay, and just to go back to what you were saying, I went to Michigan and those colors are maize and blue, but people say go blue. And whenever I hear go big blue, they're talking about the giants. I'm like are you? Oh, I didn't know. So I get it. So that's just a side note, but in terms of, I mean, you've obviously had to learn on the ground. I read that you started this in 2017. So you've been doing it right, Long, long time, Starting out and figuring this out and recognizing like, okay, the straps need to be adjustable. How adjustable is it too much? So I sell the straps separately. Were there anything from the learning curve that you wish would have known? Like that? Now you're like, oh, it's so obvious. If you ever wanted to start a handbag brand and didn't know where to start, this is for you. If you had dreams of becoming a handbag designer but aren't trained in design, this is for you. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

20:08

If you have a handbag brand and need strategy and direction. This is for you. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

20:12

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20:48

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Sarah Colonna

Guest

21:29

I would definitely say probably I would have started with more just solids instead of the two tone ones, just because everybody kind of, and then and then also, when you have only a certain amount of two tones right, I had like the dark, blue and red, because that could be the Patriots, that could be the Texans and then the Valkyries, it could be bleeds into a lot of other sports as well. But what I did went by starting with a few two tone ones was then people would say, well, why don't you have a brown and orange one for the brown? And I would say, well, because that's only going to be for the browns. And if I have people buy that, then what would that be Please everybody and that's a free bar of rule. 

22:11

And so when I try to make that clear on the site, like I started, with ones that could be multi-use for different teams, and I'm always open to suggestions. But then, as I'm gone on specifically since I'd say probably 2020 on or at, you know, after 2020. It's really bad at bigger market for people wanting just the solid black, the solid blue. That's why I made a red, because I know red is, you know, just a great color and also people love it for our concerts. And then also you've got a million teams that use red as one of their main colors, so it can also compliment your gear. 

22:48

But my main response to people that ask for like, oh, I want a Vikings bag, I go, well, you get a black one with gold and it's going to compliment your gear perfectly. You don't need it black and purple, and then it doubles as your night out bag. So I use it all the time just to go out, because I don't love to carry like a big bag to a bar or something. So it's become so multifunctional that I think I wish I would have known in the beginning to focus more on that, and then what I'd like to do is find a way to well, I don't even know if I should say this, because I don't know if I should put it out there, because I don't even know if it's possible, but I would love to find a way to be able to be like okay, I can make a specific one for a specific, have you thought about reaching out to the teams for licensing? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

23:31

Because that's essentially what you're saying. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

23:33

Well, no, no, no, I meant making them specific colors for customer if they reached out. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

23:39

Yeah, that is a hot mess. Yeah, no, I got it. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

23:43

Yeah, I bet, in bulk order. It would have to be in bulk order, that would be the only way. But also, to that point, our material, because it has to be. This material I'm not gonna Because it's reduced. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

23:53

In LA you also have that extra requirement that they have to make sure that the material doesn't emit gases, because I know I forgot the rule or whatever it's the law, but LA, california has one specific that you have to have a disclaimer at the bottom stating that it's EPA gas-free or blah, blah, blah. I know I'm talking at a term, but I know the manufacturers there technically need to follow that in some way, right? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

24:16

Well, that and just the material being that it has to be this vegan leather that's stain of water resistant, all that. It doesn't come in every color. Finding matching colors was finding a blue and silver one that I thought would go with the cowboys was a little tricky to find the right blue and stuff like that. So it's like, and then you look and teams have, they have different jerseys for different games and sometimes they're darker blue than the reverse. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

24:40

And then they reverse colors. Yeah, and you're like what am I doing? I can't fleece everybody. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

24:44

Yeah. So if somebody was to say I want this specific one, but obviously in a bulk order I can't make one per, it would never, it wouldn't make any sense and also they're expensive to manufacture, as you noted, since they make them here. So that would be great if I found a way to do that. But as far as licensing, no, I haven't even considered it yet because that goes through the NFL. It's not one team Like you can't, one string can't. All the sudden, it has to go through the entire NFL, and what they would take from that and what it would cost, I think would just sort of not make a ton of sense for me right now. Now, if I hadn't, you know, like a Ari Andrews size company or something that she's doing with where by EA which I, by the way, been certainly trying to me when they're on this idea, because I think that finding to me, finding someone that already hasn't established bigger apparel brands and partnering with them, would be a great way to take this to the next level, because I mean. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

25:45

I mean, having been through that experience, that is so tricky to do. 

25:48

That I mean, in my opinion and again, I don't like giving out advice I always saying, like well, having lawyers in the family is enough. That whenever even a family, somebody in the family, gives you advice, the first thing they'll say is I'm just telling you, this is my opinion, you can do with what you want with it, kind of thing. So you know, I've had so many people come back to me and you told me this. I'm like, hey, you just listen, this is just my professional opinion. I can't say anything. 

26:15

But working with apparel designers who have their own mission and DNA and customer it's doing collabs, or one off in and outs as they call them, is always the best way to go about it because it has a big ending and an ending and you could take advantage of their distribution and their audience and then they can take advantage of the product that you've created and it might be in. Collabs are always the best and it's also a great testing ground to see, for you know, proof of concept if it works, if it doesn't work, you know you move on. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

26:47

Yes, yeah, I would think it would definitely have to be a collab to start with her. If I, you know, this is all just putting out there as a dream Anybody. Yeah, because they would have to have a specific right to sell them in stores and not without me going through the whole licensing process of just of my whole company. You know what I mean. Like you can, you cannot put anything in a NFL store that isn't licensed by them. So some people like I know, I know that touch by a list of Milano. 

27:18

I know that she has something where she can actually collab and use the end and sort of use that process without a great. Yeah, but it would be a short stint, like you said. So something like that would be great, it would get it off the, it would sort of take it to the next level and also, like I said, get through that little hurdle that I don't encounter it nearly as much anymore. But obviously the title of all clear is what I bat. So it's a lot of battling. That the messaging, I think, is the biggest part. Like I see all the time people go, no, it's got to be a clear bag, and then I'm like, no, it doesn't. And then I send them a copy of the policy. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

27:51

I certainly the education, like my launch into handbags was similar but obviously nowhere near what you've accomplished. 

28:00

But I came up with a little handbag to go hold on to when you go out. I had a DJ boyfriend and I said, oh my God, and this was the time of flip phones, you know when, like the biggest phone was this big. So you know it would go over your wrist, it would go over your finger and I, you know, boo strapped and got it into birddust and bendles and patented them, which I want to talk to you about, and then knocked myself off and came up with a lower end line and then went to QVC and so forth. But I realized from doing trunk show after trunk show and even going to concerts that if I wasn't there to explain the utility of what this bag was good for, or buying a bag of a name that nobody knew, that if I wasn't there it wouldn't sell unless somebody literally googled, which wasn't what it was. Now, you know, part of like a bag for concert, bag for stadium, and I'm sure yours probably pops up at the top. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

28:54

It does. It does now for sure, which has been great. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

28:57

That's really helpful, because I definitely have customers that see a winner like trying to stumble upon your bag. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

29:03

Yeah, it's really nice to finally be. You know, it definitely took a few years to be beyond just my own social media reach and my own, you know, and I understand that. Yeah, and that's another thing that was really wonderful to be able to work with Maria on was to manage expectations. For her to say to me your sales are good, trust me for your first year, for your second year, for your you know, right to hear. 

29:25

That was nice, because I don't know, I don't have that concept right. I'm sort of stumbling into, I'm not on the business end of it and I mean you are now, I am now for sure, yeah, but I mean I didn't know the business end of it, I didn't know what was good, what wasn't good, which would you know? So, and nobody can really, you know, deem anything good or bad, obviously. But it was just nice to have the feedback of like no, this is a good start, this is a good process, like you're not just spinning your wheels type thing, and that felt really good. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

29:54

How did you come up with the name? And you also have patent and you know I have handbag designer 101, which just is my brand, my property in a few categories. When you do the trademark, you know a lot of people who haven't done the trade marks before they'll get rejected for generic names like handbag designer 101. You always have to put this disclaimer saying you don't own the rights to handbag, you don't own the rights to designer, you don't own the rights to 101, you only own the rights exclusively of those names together. So happening a name like what your brand is and then also having a patent like how did you go about? Like, is it the Sarah Kelowna bag? Is it the concert bag? Like did you do this research to try and think like, what would make the most sense? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

30:39

Well, it was definitely basically the stadium bag. It was definitely because it was so specific to the sizes and I think that the design patent, which I know is very hard to get, and I was very for a handbag, you know. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

30:51

But it's a design patent, not a utility patent. It's a design patent, yes. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

30:55

Okay, and so they have. It was because of the sleeve on the back, it was because of the sizes and all of that, so, and I mean it took a while but I was granted it, which I was just like shocked. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

31:08

New York Times bestseller and patent owner. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

31:10

Yeah, yeah, so Pat did, and it was yeah, and so it was a bestseller patent. So it was. That was a process, because I, as you said, you know it's, it's not an easy thing to get. A lot of times they reject it because they just say, well, this is, or this is what my trademark attorney was like, look, a patent on a handbag is like can be tricky because people say there's already a bunch. Yeah, so that was a good accomplishment, because that way I can. You know, I, there's going to be probably copycats and whatnot and people that go, oh, I can make a non-clear bag, that blah, blah, blah off. It's the thing. And at least I have a little bit of heels dug in on that, right, and then, yeah, and then I'm in the trademark on the name. 

31:50

So clutch women I came up with because the term clutch is so obviously used in sports and because, right, look at that, yeah, yeah, yeah. So it was a play on that, and also being a clutch woman, being a good friend, being loyal, being all these things, which is I just wanted to incorporate the female empowerment aspect of it too, and so the lining is my signature, with not my signature, but with I write things like your loyal, you know, your determined, what's in this and your clutch. And so it's like the inside is just these little inspirational messages when you open it up, which I just thought was like a cool thing to add to it and to sort of add to the female-owned business side of it and, you know, appeal to women who want to have a little bit of a you know I'm clutch walking into this game and I'm stylish and I'm clutch. So that was the title really came between. The word for, you know, being used so often in sports and also just being used in female, impel me. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

32:45

No, can I ask you when you started out just from the packing, shipping, labeling, returns were you involved with all of that yourself or you were able, because of your relationship, were able to streamline it right off the bat? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

33:01

Well, so I was yes, we would do it from the factory, and they showed me the packaging. We worked on that and then I had a good friend whose boyfriend does great designs, so he helped me with my logo and with the like, the hang tags, and we have these little insert cards that go in each package that tells you exactly that the bag fits, the measurements and blah, blah, blah. So yeah, all those little details and how they're packaged and whatnot I got to be definitely a big part of that that's. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

33:30

I mean it all comes through relationships. And you know, I sing and I bet it's pretty similar in LA, because LA is look, it's not for the faint of heart. It's definitely not the easiest place to live, especially considering environmentally. People all kind of theoretically, all the people have these same end goals, but when you're crossing over, even into handbags, it's you know, as you know, it's a crowded market. To try and stand out it's really tricky. So it's like be nice to everyone, you never know who you'll know. I mean, I tell my students today's classmates are tomorrow's colleagues. So without those relationships you wouldn't have been able to pull off what you were able to pull off. And oh, 100%, that's just amazing. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

34:12

Yeah, definitely. I mean definitely having someone that has a tried and true business and her own factory and knows everything and very generous, like become really good friends. And she was very generous with input and with, you know, telling me things that I probably hadn't thought of, like you need a one tag, you needed this, you needed that, and, and then when I came up with the yeah, I was like okay, okay, and then go, yeah, so all of that stuff was definitely relationship and I couldn't have done it without it, that's for sure. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

34:48

Do you have any hopes or interest in going beyond D to C? Like, do you want to go on to a QVC? Do you want that kind of? Because, like you know, you were saying that your customer or someone who goes to games and so forth, you know, goes to concerts and that's a certain person, somebody who has box seats and all that. You know we talk a lot about price point and a lot of designers. Because they lack scale, they overpriced their bags and then they then price themselves out because they're just trying to make money. So you know, these are all different kinds of customers and having this back for the specific audience, do you think there's more opportunity for you to grow beyond D to C? Definitely. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

35:30

Yeah, I mean, do you want to? Absolutely, Of course I do. Yeah, you know, I would love to be working beyond I don't want to say beyond my the size of it's a small factory and I'd like to obviously keep it there in many ways, but I'd love for it to be able to be like okay, how do we keep it here? Right, Like you know, it's so it's a, B, but yeah, I definitely want to grow beyond that. It's more figuring out how. I mean it's just figuring out how it's been good, it's been consistent, Do you? 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

36:03

have your customers that come back and buy more and more, like you're repeating, I do actually have a lot of repeat business, which is I didn't expect that, but I do. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

36:10

I have a lot of repeat business Every time I have a new one come out. They buy that, a lot of people gift them and I have a lot of male male customers, a lot of male customers. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

36:20

A lot of people don't tend to think about that either. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

36:22

Yeah, and when I realized that it helped me figure out certain ways to market and to reach out, you know, even like the social media ad space, things like that, because there's a lot of men who want to buy them for their person, that's coming to the game with them Like it's, yeah, it's a great gift for a sports loving woman, a concert going woman, these things. So that has been especially around the holidays. It's like every order that I get is you know, robert, so, and so Jeff, so, so I'm like, oh, look at these men, his bag, so that has been, you know, something that I didn't even think about in the first place. I just was like, oh well, my customers will be a woman. No, it's men buying them for their girlfriends or what, their partners, their friends, all that stuff a lot. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

37:06

And you don't sell them yet at any stadiums or theaters or anything like that. You don't have any consignment concession. Have you thought about doing that on something you can't do that? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

37:18

No, you're not a little. No, no, no, that, and not unless they're licensed. Yeah, you can't sell anything in a stadium that isn't licensed by. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

37:25

So maybe there's something in the future for that. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

37:28

But no, there definitely is. I did meet with a team in the Canadian Football League about developing one for them, because they own their own. Basically, I don't know how to say it, but you don't have to get licensed through the CFL for them, like you could just go. So I met with them, we worked on it, we saw for Canada you could do anything there. 

37:47

And they have the same rule now. So I actually have a lot of Canadian customers, but I definitely have not ruling out getting licensed. I would just need to do it. It would have to be. 

37:57

You know, I know that discussion is going to involve like, ok, we're going to have to do it in a bigger space, we're going to have to mass produce them and they're going to want to do different material, and that is the hard part to figure out, because I know that that's going to. I know I can't be too precious about it, but there's a certain point where it's going to have to. They're not going to want to make them at the. You know, I don't. I guess would just be very. 

38:20

I don't make a ton off of each bag, but obviously they're priced to make a profit, because what's the point? But that's like you said, but they're expensive to make for bag and so I know that in that space I would be told like this isn't, we can't maintain it this way, and it would have to come up with how we're going to continue to do it. And hopefully, you know, I would want to press to keep making them in the United States and preferably somewhere where I can visit and be hands on and not just let it all the sudden become this like chief inversion of what I started. So I think there's got to be a middle ground and I know that's what would. And I'm talking, you know, I'm talking about something I haven't even had a meeting on yet. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

39:02

But I out there. It's the 25 year. That's all it takes, yeah. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

39:07

Yeah, and I think I will. I've definitely been getting some attention of different, you know, from all the. I have my social media, have I had a hindux that reached out to me about advertising with them and it just it didn't make financial sense for me with them, but they were actually and I don't know why, maybe their licensing is different too but they were going to allow me to sell them in the stadium, but it just didn't. That one didn't make a ton of sense financially, but right, and there's definitely people that have reached out over the years, like I said, meeting with that CFL team. So I know it's going to get to that and that I'll be able to have the right meeting and say, ok, let's do licensing, let's make these nice bags, let's sell them in your store, let's put the cross body over a jersey and show everybody how good it looks together. Right, but right, right. Yeah, but it's amazing. Yeah, I'm figuring out how to do that and keep it. Quality is going to be yeah. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

40:01

Yeah, dude, this has been amazing. I am so grateful for you to have taken the time out of your busy LA schedule, standing in the middle of the day morning for you, where clearly that's where all your shows happen. It's what 10 am I know that's how they do it over there. Breakfast oh it is, it's chocolate, 100 percent, sarah. How can people get their hands on clutch women and, if they're so inclined, get a big laugh to go with it? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

40:30

Clutch. Womencom is where all my bags are, and also if you go to Sarah Kelownacom, there's a link there. It's Sarah with an H-C-O-L-O-N-N-A. There's a link there, and that also has all of my tour dates on it and all my social media and links to buy my books and all the things. So that's your one stop shop. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

40:48

Do you sell the bags on tour? 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

40:50

No, I don't. No, it doesn't. I sell my books on tour because it fits sort of. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

40:56

Yeah, you kind of can choose what's coming with you. Yeah, yeah. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

41:00

I don't think that I feel like the audience coming to the stand up shows may not necessarily be the same one that's going to the games. I mean, some are both, obviously, but it makes more sense to for books afterwards, because I'm doing stand up on stage instead of really doing that. Well he knows I might be out there hocking. I'm hocking them all. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

41:18

One, I hey, if you weren't on stage, it's a marketing expense. So there's that, right there. That's I know what. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

41:23

Yeah, a lot of girls count. A lot of women come to my shows with their clutch women because some clubs actually have the rule to and it's all it's. And I've seen people at games in the wild like people. I don't know if first he's always be in Seattle because I was always going to games there and I would know, oh, I know that person or oh, it would be someone that saw me on Right Seattle TV when I go. I went to see my husband play in Dallas and this woman came, just walk it up to me and she's like I have your bag. I was like, oh my God. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

41:52

It's almost as exciting as being a New York Times. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

41:54

best it was honestly pretty, pretty up and cool. Yeah, I was like, oh my God, so starting to see people out there with them was was really cool. And then wild, yeah. Yeah. Just knowing that it's spread out like that has been awesome. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

42:08

Sarah, I can't thank you enough. I encourage everybody to go see you. You're the funniest. You have your own podcast too. 

Sarah Colonna

Guest

42:16

Yes, it's called All you Like Podcast. Right now we have it is so called Married at First Sight, which is very fun, so if any of you guys are married at First Sight fans, come listen to us. But we also do other fun stuff, so check it out regardless. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

42:28

There is so much content coming for Sarah Kelowna in a clutch bag. Thank you so much, and I get absolutely going to get my hands on one. Talk to you soon. 

Emily Blumenthal

Host

42:36

Thank you, thanks for listening. Don't forget to rate and review, and follow us on every single platform at Handbag Designer. Thanks so much. See you next time. 


 


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