Designer Q&A with Allison
What inspired you to start your line of handbags?
It happened by accident. I never pursued fashion or design as a career because growing up, the message I got was that it wasn’t a serious ambition. So I had a digital marketing agency for four years in Dallas. At that time I was going to a lot of networking events to get new clients and I wanted a long, oversized clutch that was cute and chic. So I made one out of ostrich-embossed vinyl from JoAnn Fabric and lined it in hot pink tweed. Everywhere I went, people were asking me about it. I would take it to stores with me and buyers would ask about it, then a store in Dallas said, “I’ll take ten of them right now.” Everything just kept falling in my lap and I decided this really was something that could have some legs to it.
What is your creative process like?
I’m really organic about how I work. Today, for example, is not a day for design because I’m a little tired and I have other stuff on my mind that I have to do. I have a photo shoot. So it’s really just about, did I wake up that morning and feel ready to go in and execute some ideas? I’m super visual and sometimes ideas for bags will just pop into my head like lightning and I’ll have to go make them out of Scupley. But that didn’t happen today.
How has your marketing background helped you grow your business?
I’ve always worked in marketing, mostly copywriting, but I’ve always been good at branding and messaging — and that’s key not just for a designer or startup, but any big corporation. If you want people to buy your product, your messaging has to be clear, concise, and reveal the value of what your product is. Because I knew all that, it was easy for me to put together something that really zeroed in on what we were selling and what differentiated us.
What are some of the challenges you encountered in launching your line?
I think the biggest challenge has been learning how to buy and use material in a cost-effective way. I've found that it's really easy to overbuy material and then not be able to make the money back in selling the actual product. That's been something I've had to learn how to do. I'm getting better and better at managing my inventory of both bags and materials. You have to think of your materials as your inventory - as money that is just sitting there. That's been a really big challenge, but I'm getting there.
Who are your style icons?
I feel like this is a really “this-generation” answer, but I'm a huge fan of Leandra Medine from Man Repeller. I love the creative, bizarre look that she does with her outfits. I love that aesthetic. Jane Aldrige from Sea of Shoes has some of the best taste of all the influencers that are out there right now. I just think these young, differentiated bloggers have such incredible style.
What advice do you have for a designer who's just starting out?
My advice is that perseverance wins out a lot of times over talent. You can be really talented, but if you don't keep pushing and driving the wagon, it just won't go anywhere. Also, fail fast and learn quickly. That's a big strength of mine and I think the ability to take feedback and learn from it is a really good skill to have.
What is your go-to tool for designing?
Who do you hope to see carrying one of your bags?
How would you describe your line in one word?
Instagram user who inspires you?
Your breakthrough bag?
The Marigold Calf Hair Clutch.
A trend you’re not into?
First piece of clothing you loved?
My mom’s Donna Karan marigold satin floor-length skirt from the 90s.
Photos by Geoff Story, toky branding + design
Experienced in sales, marketing, and startup business development, Allison began her namesake label after the demand for her hand-made clutch went beyond friends and family to a buyer from a local luxury boutique. Her ability to move fast and capitalize on opportunity has, in only a couple of years, catapulted Allison Mitchell, LLC into a realm that would normally take several years to enter. Allison is the face, the creative drive, and the business acumen behind the Allison Mitchell label.
Allison Mitchell handbags are crafted from sustainably obtained animal skins and hides from around the world. Lined in seasonal picks from the designer, the minimalist brand offers a polished, deconstructed look that makes a statement with unique shapes and exceptional materials. Based in Dallas, Texas, all items are handmade in the United States, making them one-of-a-kind pieces.
Allison Mitchell handbags represent the raw, gorgeous spirit that drives the avant-garde, the courageous, and the fearless. With clientele spanning beyond the United States and into Spain, France, Egypt, and Japan, the line is favored by women and men the world over.