This year I went to Sicily for the first time; I loved it, I literally fell in love with it. For some reason – I really don’t know why, I have always wanted to go. Not only do I not know why I was drawn to Sicily I do not know why I hadn’t actually managed to get there before this year. Such is life.
While I was there I saw a bright orange handbag hanging across a mannequin outside a shop. Again – love! I went straight into the shop and asked how much it was. I was pleasantly surprised, (that seldom happens to me!) so I took the lovely orange ‘Emily’ - as I now know it is called – home with me. This little bag is made from beautiful Italian leather, the design is classic, you could wear it with jeans or an evening dress, the colour is vibrant. It is great against black, white, navy, grey and denim. I hadn’t seen another one like it. I was thrilled to bits with it; not only was it an exceptional bag of brilliant quality.
Close to the shop there is a little sea-front bar, we decided to sit for a while. As we sat, looking out over the Mediterranean I found myself thinking what a nice way of life it would be to be selling handbags like that. When I say “like that” I mean excellent quality Italian leather, beautifully made, fantastic designs and amazing colours.
We carried on to have dinner and a walk along the marina, as we did so these same thoughts kept popping into my head. By the time the next morning had arrived I had planned almost word for word the conversation I was going to have with the shop owner when I asked him for information about where he got his bags from. I really thought that he was unlikely to want some English tourist to know all about his business and that I would probably have to not mind and politely leave.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was so kind and helpful. After I had explained what I wanted to do he looked at me for a long moment and said “OK, you sit, I help you”, and so he did. He pinged his phone into action and scribbled down the details of all the people I needed to know; names, numbers, emails, he gave me lots of invaluable advice about every aspect of the business. He was unreservedly generous without asking for, or anticipating anything in return.
He had helped me enormously. I had a very clear picture of me selling these beautiful bags and now with that piece of paper in my hand it was all coming to life. I was so excited.
We had a couple of days left in Sicily, I hardly thought about anything else. By the time we had arrived back in England I had a clear idea of how I wanted to go about this. I think that is what grown-ups call a ‘business model’.
I made the decision to give up my full time employment, so strong was my belief in my new venture
I wanted to spend time sourcing a collection of handbags that epitomised Italian quality and style and bring them to the UK. I wanted people to be able to buy these beautiful quality Italian handbags at a price that wasn’t prohibitive. In order to do this I realised that I needed to have minimal overheads, so no shop and no expensive advertising, just to be able to get the word out about the collection. Amongst other things I make use of technology of course, I use The Italian Handbag Company Facebook and Instagram pages where I post details of the latest collection and sale locations and, in turn, will refer visitors to the website to purchase.
It seemed possible, and it has turned out that it is. The response to the range has been brilliant.