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Sherrill Mosee of MinkeeBlue on Handbag Designer 101 Podcast every Tuesday

Sherrill Mosee 11/6/23

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

00:25

Welcome everybody to the Handbag Designer 101 podcast. Today we have Cheryl Mosey of Minky Blue. Cheryl, welcome, thank you. Happy to be here. Oh, my gosh, so we were just talking. We've overlapped for many, many, many handbag years, which, to me, handbag years are like dog years, so it's like at least 65 at this point. Well, seven isn't a denomination of 65, but whatever, you know what I mean. What year did you officially?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

00:55

start. I officially launched in 2014. I came up with the idea in 2012, and it took me a minute to kick fear to the curb and say you know what, let me just go ahead and do this thing.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

01:08

So what were you doing before and what happened in 2012 that gave you this idea to give birth to this psychotic concept of a handbag and brand and business and life that it would hold you captive for until now?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

01:24

Yeah, so I have a degree in engineering, so I used to work at Lockheed Martin for a number of years, so you're a smarty pants. Well, you know, that's what I thought. Anyway, too was like, okay, I want to do something different, but how long were you working there? I worked at Lockheed for about nine, ten years. That's a long time, yeah. And then, where I was working over in New Jersey I'm in Philadelphia now the plant shut down and so I was laid off and I started a nonprofit organization. That's because, well, in personal reasons, I started a nonprofit to help low income single moms in college, paid for childcare. My mom was a single mom, didn't really have the opportunity to go to college, and so I know how important it was to have an education and try not to raise kids, and so I did that. Why did that? For a number of years as well.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:22

While you weren't working, like your degree from university is an engineering. Yeah Well, there aren't many women, especially women of color, who do that.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

02:31

No, you were like one of what one You're absolutely right, I would sometimes be one in my class African American, one female, and so, yeah, it was really really hard. It still is. My daughter now is an engineer and I thought the things that I went through telling my age here about 30 years ago, she's going through the same thing, wow, and so not much has changed over the years.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

02:59

So building things, making things, you know, I don't know what engineering, but I'm assuming it's not an easy engineering that you studied, but how things are made in an integral sense and the why I mean. Obviously that must have some sort of impact on you if that's something you committed to studying in school because, again, not an easy degree it absolutely isn't, and I struggled my way to earn that degree as well.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

03:23

But it's all about problem solving, which is really attributed to how I fast forward to where I am today. But in between that stop, between engineering and handbag I started a nonprofit called Family Care Solutions, where I raised money to help low income single moms in college pay for childcare.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

03:45

Yeah, so you were living off of that. While you were, you know, like hey, I'm not working, let me just start because I'm Jesus, like this is a journey in itself. So you were started this new brand, new business 501c3, assuming if it's a nonprofit profit, yeah, and whilst doing this, and if I count the years you had a child at this point to, who must have been eight, nine around for that span yeah, so you're doing this nonprofit, you're being very good to people, community, give back. What was the moment where you're like, oh damn, I should start a handbag line brand and change everything? What was your moment that you were like this is missing on the market and yeah, there were a couple of things that happened while I was working with the moms.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

04:32

I would see them come in struggling with their diaper bag, their book bag, their purse, and I was like, wait a minute. I'm taking the train in the city, I'm carrying my lunch bag, I have my shoes in a plastic grocery bag and I'm putting that bag in my tote bag. So I'm the bag lady and I look around on the train. I said, well, there are a lot of bag ladies on this journey and we're all struggling with bags. And that was it. Like you know what? I just want one bag and I want to mix my banana in with my laptop. I don't want your shoes, my shoes, right, and I want to be able to separate and organize everything in my bag. And I did. I was shopping. I went shopping, couldn't find anything, and I said you know what? We have this idea, maybe I can do this. And I was like, nah, I don't know anything about manufacturing, I don't know anything about design, and so it took me a minute before I actually made that decision. You know what? I'm just going to do this.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

05:31

What was your process? Did you sketch it out? Did you do it on construction paper? Did you do the traditional path of buying materials domestically that were extraordinarily expensive and dropped five to 10k on a sample and then maybe tried to do it yourself? Does all this drag? I?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

05:49

drew it out first and then I was like I gotta think about how I can make this thing work. So I don't. So my drawings were circles and squares, so I was really like a good artist. But what I did is I went to Target. I bought a bag for $29.99. I bought it home. It was the same size, the shape of the bag I had envisioned in my head, because I wanted to carry my laptop and things like that, and I just started cutting it up. You deconstructed it up. I deconstructed the bag. I had some materials around the house, some fabric. It had frogs on it. I stapled and glued things, because I don't sew and I just got to put it all together and I used cardboard and I figured things out. I said, hey, maybe this looks pretty good for my life.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

06:40

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Okay, so you made this for a sample. Do you have it?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

06:46

Yes, I do. You know I couldn't sew don't sew, I hardly draw. And so I went to Target and I bought this bag for $29.99, $39.99. And it was the same shape and size of this bag I had envisioned in my head. I wanted to be able to carry my laptop and things and what I did is I literally just started cutting it up. And so the bag. I said, okay, I can put my lunch bag back there. And you have this little fan break. I found in the kids' room. It has frogs on it.

07:22

And again, I don't sew, right, I made my little lunch bag with my dot board. There's glue and staples in here. Oh, my gosh, this could be my lunch bag and I could fit it in the bottom here. I cut this out, I could shoot it in here. And then I had my little handle on here and I said, when I'm not using my little lunch bag, I can put my shoes in here. Yep, I could put a change of clothes at the bottom. And then I could close it up and zip it up.

07:53

And I also cut it this way. I said, maybe I can put my shoes in this way. Look at that. Yep. And then on the top part. I had a you'll see these Velcro strips here because I had a piece of cardboard Right that was flipping up and down and that was my shelf. I put a shelf right in the middle of the bag, uh-huh. I wanted it to be able to separate my purse essentials from my lunch at the bottom Right Use. And then so this was my purse little prototype that I bought from Target, and Let me tell you something.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

08:29

I did a vision to life. You need to obviously keep this, which I know you will. My first samples yeah, my first samples I did out of construction paper, taped, glued. I remembered reading the story when Kate Speed got started and how she wasn't a designer by trade, and that's exactly what she did. And I found every article about how she started her line and matched it up. I'm like, okay, she did it with construction paper, I'm gonna do it with construction paper.

08:56

And the wildest thing to find a sample maker not knowing how to make a bag that every single sample maker I met said we were Kate's first sample maker. Wow, every single one. There were at least six of them in the Garmin Center. And I'm like, okay, and I discuss this with other people, but my students at FIT, when Kate's made past what she went through, so many of my kids in my class didn't even know that she was a person we should have. Oh yeah, how's that for Wackadoo? So yeah, the legacy goes on. So one of the things I've always said to brands and designers never start the line named after yourself because, to God's ears, if you're ever able to sell it, there goes your own IP and therefore you're never actually able to start anything new, because who's gonna follow another brand if you're not part of it? It's a pickle. Yeah, may we all have that challenge. So you do this mock-up. What did you do next?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

09:55

I knew that I needed to differentiate the bag because the handbag market is so saturated and if I was coming in with a new bag I wasn't really gonna get too far. It was just gonna be a real uphill battle. It was an uphill battle anyway, but I knew I needed to differentiate myself with that shelf, and so I started studying patents. And so this is where the engineer and geekiness of me come in. I've seen patterns.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

10:24

We got patents, patents. So I am a handbag patent obsessed person, obsessed. I have this giant dossier of the history of the handbag. Actually, I made it because I felt like if I need to be an expert, I need to know when this came out and what's the why and all of that stuff. But determining and discovering who and what created and the why, and I don't know if you've noticed, but historically I don't know up until I don't even know how long ago every single handbag patent was by a man, oh yeah.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

11:01

You know what? I did not know that, but what I did is that I researched Designer utility patents. Did you look at Utility? I had two utility patents Right and I researched. I wanted to find a patent attorney who had already gotten a patent for a handbag so that I would work with that person.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

11:22

So you looked up the attorneys who filed handbags and went backwards.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

11:26

I went backwards and I also researched would there you know any bags that had this shelf, this movable shelf, in the middle of it? And I was like, oh my God, I'm going to follow this patent. And what I did is I did a provisional patent at birth, which gives me the 12 lungs to say patent pending, we're out. If I really had this idea and it's worth it yeah, it definitely is. Provisional patents really don't cost much. Even now I know when I did it it was about under $300. I think it's still less than. Did you do it yourself or you had that? I did the provisional patent myself. Well, yeah, I did the provisional. Then, when it was time to file the regular patent, I hired a patent attorney. But, yeah, I did the provisional. I'm actually working on another provisional patent, too, for a new idea that I had for a bag.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

12:19

You reverse engineered it, didn't you? Yes, it's funny because so many people know and again, as a non-lawyer, and you being a non-lawyer, we cannot give out legal advice. So we can't recommend for people to do it by themselves. We can't tell people they should do it themselves. That said, I've done provisional patents myself, I've done trademarks myself. I've done so much myself to the point where the USPTOgov, I think, has aligned through my voice saying oh no, she's calling again, being like, hey, so do you think this would fall under this class? And can I put more than one? And do you think if I doubled up it would be a problem? And this whole narrative, because they can't give legal advice, but they seem to be very, very helpful. They are very helpful. But let me tell you they hear my voice and I hear that ugh, oh there, yeah, that's shit Back. She is back. That's amazing. So you had your 12 months. Who made your first sample?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

13:20

Well, let me see, I found someone who recommended, referred me to a guy in New Jersey who used to work for coach and he retired and he was making samples in his basement and I know that you're talking about oh no, he made samples in his basement.

13:41

I got connected to him His name is Mano, in New Jersey, yes, worked for coach Amazing and he worked with me until we got it right. I had some iterations. He said listen, let's stop with the iterations. You just got to. Let's find this manufacturer and do it, because it was costing me more and more.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

14:02

He said, let's just go ahead and get started. That is a newbie issue, especially with sample makers, and you're very lucky that you had someone who was able to cut you off. It's like drinking like you've done enough. It's too many times because as a new designer, it is 1,000% a pitfall where you're like, well, what if we change this and what if we change that? And most manufacturers or sample makers will either pander to that and keep charging you or will put you on the bottom of their list and being like, yeah, we don't have time for this because clearly you don't know what you're doing. I call it the green cost not green in the recycled version, but the green is in new names that the prices get jacked up for you not knowing a damn thing. So you are very fortunate that you found this lovely gentleman speaking like Sheryl you are cut off, cut off.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

14:54

Like that's it, I stop, I'm not going to make it anymore. You're always going to make changes. You're always going to make improvements down the road. So, yeah, I was really, really fortunate. He was wonderful to help me along the way and I can still talk to him today about it and he's so amazed and impressed and excited for me. But yeah, it was wonderful.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

15:16

So you get this first bag, you have your provisional patent. Then what did you do?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

15:21

I hugged my bag like it's my baby. That's what I did. I was like oh my god, my dream, my vision.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

15:30

I guess I'll Do you have a picture of you hugging the bag?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

15:33

I do, I do. It was my sample bag with Mano because he did such a beautiful job. I mean, he worked in bags for coach and yeah, I do. I have a picture of me and Mano and me hugging With the bag. Absolutely.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

15:48

Oh my god, with the bag spawn. So you have the sample. Now, what do you do? So I have? Did you have pricing? Did you have idea of pricing yet?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

16:00

Well, we're in between steps here. So with Mano I had my sample, my prototype. I didn't have any idea with pricing. So what I did originally I was adamant about making my bag in the USA and I wanted to find a manufacturer in the USA and I just couldn't afford it. I just could not afford it and I started working with the Department of Commerce. Now this was a few years back. They probably still do it, I'm not sure, but the Department of Commerce will help you find a manufacturer in the US because they want businesses to stay in the US. But unfortunately, the way my bag was made, all of this, too many things, it was too much. So it was the decision whether I not make the bag or I go overseas. And so I decided to go overseas. And then that was a whole other issue.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

16:50

I'll bet A whole other issue, I'll bet. So what country did you start with, and are you still with them now?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

16:58

I started in China. I had been blogging about my experience about just starting this whole handbag business, all of the ups and downs, what I was going through, and I had quite a few people that was following my blog and so I wrote this story about me going overseas to find a manufacturer. And this guy emails me back. He says, hey, I'm in Hong Kong, I can help you. And I was like, hey, I don't know, I'm here, I don't know who you are Like, who are you?

17:31

But apparently this guy had been following my story and he was from Florida and he lived in Hong Kong at the time and he was starting this business to help US companies find factories in Hong Kong, china. Was he American or Chinese? He's American? Okay, yeah, american, I mean. The story goes on and on, but just amazing, I mean that's just God's in, right there, yep. And I got to tell you even today, even though that was years ago, 2013, 2014, his name is Harry. Harry and I are still connected. He has since moved back to Florida, thanks, you do. He worked at a university, a college in Florida, and I just did a speaking engagement with his students last month, and so this is years ago and Harry and I are still friends, but I back then I was like I don't know who you are, like, who are you? You just want my money, right. And he did help me find a manufacturer.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

18:30

Are you still with that same factory? No, what is that? There's that? Yeah, no, you know, it is really wild if you are to do a timeline with pushpins of like. And then I found Harry and then I was with the first factory and then I went to shit with factory number one and then I had factory two and then I realized I needed factory three and four just in case factory two went upside down. So I was especially doing this all by yourself, it's like, and funding it by yourself. And it's to someone who's organized, strategic and engineer. Everything needs to have a Y and a place. And then you're basically throwing yourself off a cruise ship and saying maybe I should go to an island, maybe I should float all the things that are so antithetical to being who you are. But you get on this almost like an obsession, like I got to do this. I got to figure that like, oh my God, I'm so close, right, yeah absolutely.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

19:28

I always say that you know. I say that it's you know. People always talk about passion, passion, passion, this is not a passion. I say I have passion, but I just sprinkled with a little obsession, because it's no way, because you can fall in and out of love. It is that obsession, right, you going and like this is going to work. I got to make this work. Yeah, I always say passion sprinkled with a little obsession.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

19:54

I call it passion sprinkled with crazy. But yeah, you know, it's one of those, because I don't know when I started mine and then I was getting my MBA and I was working at this magazine, which, rip, didn't last very long, but you know, learning the back end of like okay, now I need a press kit, rip press kits too. But you know, now I need a celebrity, now I need a picture Now. I need testimonials, now I need to give them. Now. I need to get into a magazine Now. I need this, now I need to get it on a TV show. And you're like, I only have one sample and I really don't know how I'm supposed to make it or have production, but I need to do all this now.

20:37

So my first order was a store on Bleaker Street and they may have been gone by the time you started called Verve, and it was this lovely man and he was one of the first people to buy Minkoff, monica Byker, like. He was the first store Deluxe, which is now Nackety, which is Sarah, it's like, I believe. But he was one of these incredible men who said, okay, a handbag is not a Van Gogh, it's not supposed to go on a wall, you want people to come in and you want them to buy more. You can't out-price yourself. I mean all these things and the stories like that he would tell me about, like even with Rebecca Minkoff and I believe this to be true based on what he said, I believe she could probably confirm but shipping your first bag and how he called her in and said I'm not going to pay you for this. I want you to come in, I want you to see how to pack, I want you to see how to ship.

21:30

Now you take this home and reship it to me and then I'll pay you, like one of these things, because with boutiques, the one thing you learn boutiques will pay you upfront, right. Like you send that UPS, you get the check COD with department stores which everybody thinks are so sexy and exciting. It's like you might as well kill yourself because I read that big fat book for Nordstrom over a break to do it myself. I got into burgdorfs myself and I physically delivered my first box of bags to burgdorfs, to the train there, got there and they're like you can't do this, you need to ship it to us. I'm like why should I ship it if I could take the train? Like here's the DC right here, take it, take it, take it. You know, so it's part of these stories where you're in uncharted waters but you're, like on the psychotic mission, like oh hey, now what, now what?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

22:23

Yeah, yeah, you're absolutely right. It's this forever wheel that's turning and you're running and it's just ongoing all the time.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

22:33

So had you started showing said bag to anybody for sale yet Like did you have orders against it? Because if you know, if you're going to speak to a factory, you need to say like hey, people want to buy this. Or you're just saying like I'm on the mission for like bad one.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

22:48

I mean, I said people were going to buy it, but did I have an audit? Did I have a customer base? Things that I know that I should have had back now, nothing, I didn't know anything. It's about this thing, about being naive, about starting a business and going after all of this stuff, and someone asked me just last week what did I wish I knew then that I know. Besides, I wish I knew how much this was going to cost me. I probably would have said nothing because had I known everything that I know now, I would have clamped up and I probably wouldn't have pursued it. It really is about being naive, about going after what you believe. Nauseosity, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely yeah. No, it's a lot of work, but I really appreciate. I enjoy just the creativity, what I come up with, and just having this patent and being able to use that and leverage it, and that sort of thing.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

23:49

People don't know the value of that. That's what got me my first licensing deal, because when I did it, nobody had a patent. Mine were. I had a design patent and a utility patent and that's like I was able to knock myself off, which, to me, most people don't know that you can do that. Yeah, I'm working on that now, Emily.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

24:10

I'm working on that now, so you absolutely can.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

24:14

Yep. So okay, you find a factor, you get a sample. Then what happens?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

24:19

I started in the community with the diaper bags because I had been working with the moms, as though. I started talking to moms and child care providers. I was trying to then build a community before I got the bag. Then I did a Kickstarter campaign. I lost. Yeah, I did raise some money there, not nearly enough, but definitely it was helpful. Did you get your goal? I did get my goal. Yes, my goal was 15,000. I got about 19,000.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

24:47

Did you put any of your own money into it to get the ball rolling?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

24:50

Yeah, I did. I had some money saved up.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

24:53

Fortunately, I have a husband that believes in my dreams, and not everybody could say that, but yes, People don't realize that with Kickstarter's that most people end up putting their own money in to look the part. It's not like nobody invests in something with no money. I don't care what it is. You need that smoke, buys mirrors element. That's amazing. I'm so happy you made it because there's nothing worse, because those things live forever.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

25:19

Yeah, they absolutely do. There's a system even behind that. That I learned later. You do need some money upfront, because there are things that you just need to buy to get things going upfront.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

25:35

You raised under 20K, just about 20K Did you immediately go into production or did you start trying to shop it around? Actually, I had started production with no orders.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

25:46

with no orders, I can't do anything. With no orders, I can't.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

25:53

I can't get my camera to lean. Oh my God, it's like you want to tell a younger man over and smack you being like no, no, no.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

26:04

Yeah, but then I started getting with my campaign. I got orders from that, but not nearly as much as I put in for the water Frightened for a thousand bags, I don't know a thousand people. That was way too much. I would never tell anybody to order. I mean, if you can get away with a hundred or 200 initially, make sure you have somebody that's going to buy it. As a matter of fact, I tell people build your community first, start talking about it. Put to your provisional patent. If it's patentable, that's not talking about it.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

26:37

Brands with fans. That's what you're doing.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

26:40

That's the best way to grow your brand and to sell it even before you get it. If it gets off the boat, you want to start selling it, which I did.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

26:48

I did pre-orders, but the pre-order is the way to go. Yeah, that really is.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

26:54

So I still do pre-orders today because I want to make sure that I am yeah you don't want to get stuck.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

27:01

Also, another thing that people don't realize is the hook of the pre-order. It also helps you with this narrative of sustainable production that you're not producing more than you need, which to you it's more than you can sell, right, but truly it's part of a whole narrative of what's important of today's like no, I'm only producing as much as people want to buy, so I'm not left and I'm not messing with the environment. But it's also a good angle to keep in mind. It's like, hey, I'm making sure that I'm not adding to that overarching problem that exists, that we're all pretty much part of at this brand, yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

27:40

And then you hit the nail on the head there, because that's the way that I'm working now. I get samples and I sell by the samples. I'm building and jumping ahead a little bit, but I'm building out a corporate gifting program.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

27:53

So not just in retail, but you know that's an unknown business that people don't know. It's a gem.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

28:00

Yeah, yeah. So I'm building that out now, and what's?

Emily Blumenthal

Host

28:03

a corporate gifting program. Just to explain.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

28:07

Yeah. So corporate gifting is that you know you have these companies, that if you work for a company five years or 10 years, or even if there's a corporate event and they want to give there for my bags, it might be the executives there, or if there's an event and they want to give the speakers, or I'm also looking into uniform bag, which means, since I can design the bag. So uniform bags is another way of corporate gifting because, for example and I'm just going to put it out there because this is also a dream so for Delta Airlines, they have uniforms and they carry bags. So I would love to do corporate gifting for a company like that. So, yeah, that's what we're working on.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

28:52

Yeah, but can I challenge you with that? Now, minky Blue is your brand. How can you convince a Delta Airlines or a corporation that if you have clients at an executive level that your bag is at that level branding wise, that they would then be excited? And I'm not saying your brand isn't. But how do you go up against that? Because I know historically, like the buyers of Bloomingdale's have told me, that the first bag you know historically again I'm sure things that you have all the first bag she would buy with her first job would be a Minkoff bag. As soon as she gets a bump in salary, the next bag she buys is a Chanel flatback because it's status I've made it. It's timeless, it's my first real bag. How do you work up against that as a Minky Blue bag brand versus somebody else in terms of perception and branding?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

29:42

Yeah. So that's a great, great question. And so the way that I ran and promote the bag is about travel and work, and so I'm not competing with the Chanel's or Louis Vuitton. It's about the functionality and utility of the bag. So if you're traveling and you need to put an extra pair of shoes or you know the change of clothes, if it's an overnight bag, then you're going to want a backpack or tote bag or something like that that you can pack your toiletries in, right Things like that. And so it's the way that you brand the product, the way that you promote it, and that's what I do. So and you're in golf.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

30:23

That's your SP, that's your unique selling point, absolutely so. This is not a bag that I'm using for fabulousness. It's the functional bag that you will look good because I've already thought of everything that your people need, right.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

30:35

Exactly, and they are carrying the things that the bag can be used for. They are carrying their shoes, they are carrying their snacks and things like that. Yeah, and they're too.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

30:46

So if they're smart, they're bringing snacks because you can't buy anything at the airport. I know I was selling to airports years ago and I had someone on the phone who was I can't remember which airport, but you know it was very sign felting and I was like listen, listen. I want to know how and who determines the markup on a bottle of water, because it's like 8000 percent. I know it's offensive, like seven dollars for a bottle of water, that it you know Costco costs 17 cents, but you know too bad. So OK, you have the sample. How are you able to get to retail? What's your thought process of direct to consumer versus retail? I know you were in the Philly Macy's incubator. So what was that evolution and where are you at now with all of that in terms of where it should be sold and what works best for you as a sole brand owner?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

31:37

You know, there was really no plan is like trying to figure things out every step of the way, right and so initially, being a part of the Philadelphia fashion incubator was about getting into boutiques and doing these retail.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

31:52

Do Macy's pick it up immediately?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

31:54

No, not when I was there. No, there was so much to learn about running a business that I just wasn't ready back then. Anyway, right, and there was just so much to get into retails very, very difficult. But for me it really the best way was direct to consumer and so building out my Shopify store and then doing my best to promote it and digital ads and things like that and these events and building the brand. Social media has been a big part of introducing Minky Blue, because it is a different type of bag and so it is one of your price points. They've range from I have a little small cross body for $39.99 to my backpacks for $230. So it was something for everybody on the air on the website.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

32:47

So were you just out of curiosity, when you had your first shipment come? Your husband must love you, but does he love you enough to have a thousand bag in your garage, like I think it wouldn't fit?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

32:58

He was like you're going to have to do something else. I mean, I had a little room where I put some bags in there, but I had to get a warehouse, I had to get storage. My house went to a thousand bags and my bags are so big, they're not little, small, little, you know clutter things like that. This takes up a lot of room. And the shipping that was another thing. I had no idea about shipping and how I had to pack this, so the divider wasn't damaged and it had to be. That's what happened my first time. Yeah, the way I had made the divider and then I can show you that. But it was crunched up. I was, oh my God. So there was just really, I don't even know I was like so well.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

33:49

Oh my God, my first shipment. I went to JFK. My mom drove me to JFK and I picked it up myself. You know, literally my mom was waiting outside. I carried the box myself, like you know, like a cartoon. We open it in the back of my mom's trunk. The samples were terrible, they smelled, and it wasn't even so much the look of me dealing with it, but was the look of my mom. Her facial expression made me feel like what the hell did I just do? You know, it's like it's all good that you can like hide it yourself and keep it to yourself and swallow all of this, but as soon as you show someone else that's close, you're like now I'm accountable, now what am I going to do? So did you pack, ship yourself every single order for that first thousand? I know I did. Oh yeah, yeah, I discussed I PTSD. I had no concern.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

34:45

that was very helpful, though I've always had concerns. But yeah, pretty much responsible for packing now it took me a long time to sell that thousand.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

34:55

I bet.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

34:56

Yeah.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

34:57

I bet, are they gone? Yeah, yeah.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

35:01

Now I have more thefts than I have other thousands.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

35:03

Oh my God. So so at this point, you are no longer packing and shipping your bags yourself.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

35:10

No, I have a warehouse and a team down there that ships the bag. Well, occasionally depending on you know, if it's slow the week or something, I'll go and check out things and occasionally we'll ship stuff. But I do have a team that ships stuff out In New Jersey and. Philadelphia, yeah, philly, yeah, philly.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

35:27

So when your stuff comes in, is it Port Philadelphia?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

35:30

New York and then it's trucked over to Philadelphia. Oh my God, yeah, and I've been through a couple of. I had a warehouse in Michigan, maryland, and trying to say Medalla, but it turned out to be really, really expensive.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

35:45

Yeah, it's so interesting like learning terms like FOB, ldp, you know, freight on board, lands duty, and I got to the point where I just said I just need landed prices. Like please don't put it on me to get it from China, from India, from the Philippines. Like I think I went through five or six countries and I'm like please just get it, get it into this country. I don't want to have to deal with an expo data, I don't have to deal with customs, just give me a final price. And I know I've probably lost money on that and they gave me an extra. You know they marked it up extra on their end. But the time, value of money, of distress and the anxiety of like having it leave the country, having it go through customs you know I'm Garmento offspring.

36:27

So my very first shipment my dad had a guy this is like a thousand years ago and I was calling him all the time, like we were friends, like okay, so is it coming? Did it come? Did you see me? And then my dad was like he doesn't want to work with you anymore and I was like why? You know he's got other people and you know what did I bring in 300 bags and I'm like do you know, can you open the box? Can you tell me what it looks like? You know he's like he's an after friend. Yeah, but I'm paying him. He's like doesn't matter, and that first shipment to come in was $7,000. I remember that and I was, you know, doing this during my day job and during lunch, and then my mom drove me to pick it up and then she's like what the hell are you doing? I'm like I'm doing this. I don't know, but I'm doing this. She's like that's not good.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

37:13

That's not good. You know, my first shipment. There was a snowstorm, things got delayed and I was paying for all of that when it's delayed. And it kept adding up and adding up because they wasn't moving anything, it was just sitting there.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

37:30

Yeah, oh, I had a factory once and again. This is to live and learn. When you're new, you tend to stalk and harass people who you're working with and to them it's not, they're working for you, they're working. It's the other way around. And I didn't know it was a Muslim factory. No one told me it was a Muslim factory. But I had my very first shipment to Nordstrom, like finally, real, the whole thing. I'd gone through the whole book and I kept contacting them like hey, you know, confirming when it's going to go out. And I was like hey, nordstrom just asked. I was contacting them during Ramadan.

38:06

And they were so insulted that they mined the last and I'm like, oh my God, I'm so sorry. You know, it's like the lost girl, like can I fix this? Can I do anything? Can I send you something? Like does Amazon go overnight? This is a learning curve.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

38:22

Yeah, it absolutely is. I mean, I would panic all the time when the factory would respond to me.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

38:28

Which is what was happening.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

38:30

And they were on their holiday for a while and then they like, let me know. So I will be like, oh my God, they're not responding.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

38:36

Yeah, I finally got the owner of the factory and he was like we can't work with you anymore. And I started crying on the phone with him, like literally crying, crying, and he's like, ok, we'll give you one more chance, but don't do it again. I'm like I'm so sorry you know the amount that that phone called cost me was almost equivalent to my production Because you're like, what am I going to do? They have my balance, they have my brand, they have my life, yeah, so, oh my gosh, yeah. So let's go to where you are now. Yeah, let's see what's the light at the end of the tunnel where you are. Like, what's going on with Mickey Blue? And, oh my God, I also want to know how you came up with the name.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

39:19

Yeah, so coming up with the name really goes back to me working with the moms, because I originally started making diaper bags, right, so I wanted the name Pinky Blue made sense, but the domain was taken and I liked the sound of Pinky Blue so I literally went to why?

Emily Blumenthal

Host

39:37

Pinky Blue Because the diaper bag pink and blue. Yeah.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

39:41

Yeah, pink and blue just made sense and I liked the sound of Pinky Blue. So I was like, oh man, I can't get that name. So I literally went through the alphabet so I said Linky Blue, jinky Blue, jinky Blue. No, oh, none of this, this. And I landed on Jinky Blue. Wow, that was basically it. So then Macy's had an opportunity to sell, with QVC working to get back there. And then it's really about this corporate gifting and the diffusion line. You were talking about knocking yourself off, so that's what I'm looking. I'm working on this year's the diffusion line and the corporate gifting.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

40:25

How are you able to knock yourself off if you've got bags that are already selling at $30?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

40:30

No, those are the crossbody. These are the little teeny crossbodies that I have. They do not have the divider in there. The tote bags in the backpacks are T25 to T30. I think small crossbody bags are literally.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

40:45

Your goal is to get that $249 bag sold under $100 per say.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

40:50

It would not be the exact same bag, it would be a cousin. Yeah, it would be a cousin different materials, same functionality. But to be able to go and some other retailers at a lower price and to build out the corporate gifting program. In addition to I have licensees that are first, they were infringing on my patent on Amazon and I turned it around. I was going to kick them off and said I only want to be the one selling my bags on Amazon, but these are factories that are selling at a lower price, different materials, different looks.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

41:26

So you have a full on licensing agreement with them to sell your bags without them.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

41:32

Their bags using my patents.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

41:34

So exactly, exactly. That's how I got my licensing deals, and people don't know about that.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

41:41

So that's where and to build that out too. So there's a lot of different opportunities and not really limiting myself in just retail. Yeah, there's a lot of different opportunities.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

41:50

Just out of curiosity, are you thinking to move to other categories or you're staying staying firm in handbags?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

41:56

I hadn't thought about it, but I need to make sure I got this down. So I want to talk to you after we've done this, because you have a lot that you've done that I would love to get some advice on. So I would want to talk to you about that, yeah.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

42:14

So now I'm working with a handful of designers that I believe in and then helping them move to other categories. It's one of those things that I always say everybody loves an underdog, but everybody loves a handbag more. But right now, novelty has a moment, so there's a way for us to do something cool and clever and out of the box that most people don't even realize. And I applaud you not venturing beyond what you're doing because I mean, I think I created a solution bag that was very specific and had a very unique design, like not a regular tote. It was a wallet, wristlet fusion. It was a club bag. It was up the time.

42:52

Whatever Can't even fit a real phone in it now, but the flip phone I had to deal with Nokia to have that sold in my bags. It was a whole thing. You're like had I known how crazy it is to call the CEO and be like hey, let's chat. And they're like who are you? Well, I've got this bag. You need to see what we can do. So yeah, it's definitely one of those things. But I ventured into traditional bags and I think it ate up all my money. And then I did a trade show and then it ate up more of my money that I didn't have, and that was the thing. Like to do a trade show, premiering product that you know, when you don't have a USP unique selling point, when everybody else is already doing it, and you're doing it because you think you're supposed to.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

43:34

Yeah, yeah, and you know, I just need to make the things work that I got going on now. Yes, yeah, I agree.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

43:42

I agree. Oh, Cheryl, it has been an absolute joy. Tell everybody where they can follow you and find you and purchase your amazing bags.

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

43:52

Yeah, so I am at at minky blue on Instagram and TikTok and it is minky blue dot com. But check out the bags and minky blue.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

44:03

How do you spell that?

Sherrill Mosee

Guest

44:06

M-K-E-E blue dot com.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

44:08

Woohoo, cheryl, you've been an absolute joy. Thank you for joining us on the Handbag Designer 101 podcast. We can't wait to see what you're doing next. All right love, have a great day, thank you.

Emily Blumenthal

Host

44:20

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

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