Designer Blanca Lesser of Olivia + Joy Explains The Importance Of A Good Handbag

Blanca, how did you get started in handbag design?

All my life, I loved handbags. But growing up in El Salvador, I never had one. When I came to the U.S., I got a job as a handbag buyer for Macy’s. For me, it was a dream job. Season after season, though, I would see all these logo-driven bags, and I didn’t see the trends that I personally was looking for. I teamed up with Abe Dweck, the owner of Accessories Exchange in NYC, and the handbag line Olivia + Joy was born.

How would you describe  Olivia + Joy?

It’s named after Dweck’s two daughters; some people think it’s named after my kids! [laughs] Olivia + Joy is an affordable bag line with a price point of $100 or less. So you get the lux feeling of a beautiful handbag without the hefty price tag.

How has the line grown?

Olivia + Joy is sold in over 180 stores and has even been featured on The Today Show. Celebs such as Kim Kardashian, Kelly Rutherford and Carmen Electra are all fans of the line, which is so amazing to me. We now have an e-commerce site and have a great following on social media, celebrity and editorial endorsement, all of which have helped us grow.

What are some of your current top sellers?

The current top sellers are seasonal bags with printed straw details, and lady-like satchels are a key body in our assortment.

What do you predict will be the hottest styles for fall?

I definitely think that the lady like/structured satchels will continue. We also have a great line up of styles such as Anastasia, and Emma that are sure to be a hit with the Olivia + Joy customer.

Is it hard to balance work and family life?

It’s not always easy. But my husband, Shawn, is my number one fan. Sometimes, he’ll send out email blasts whenever something is new with Olivia + Joy! And he loves to play with the kids and break all the rules when I am away! The funny thing is that even though my husband is my biggest fan, my daughter Ellie (age 6) is my biggest critic! She’s extremely vocal about what she likes and doesn’t like. One day, I’d like to have a separate kids’ clothing line for Ellie and my son Lucas (age 5). But for now, I’m happy to continue working and nurturing this third baby. It’s amazing to see my creative vision come to life and I honestly cannot wait to see what the future holds.

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