For our first “Un-Etsy Spotlight,” I wanted to introduce you to Angela from Gigee Marie! Angela and I met at the University of Maryland, where we were both American Studies majors. (Go Terps!!) Angela’s originally from outside of Philly, and she’s been living in the DC area for about 5 ½ years. During the day, Angela is a marketing specialist at a consulting firm and she loves all things gold and glittery (much like yours truly!) 🙂
Angela is the owner and talented designer/creator behind Gigee Marie, a line of handbags that she launched just this past year. Since I’m a big proponent of buying handmade and sponsoring small business, she’s a natural fit for ShopHappens!
Also, as a special bonus for ShopHappens readers, from now until January 18, you can take an extra 10% off ALL items in the Gigee Marie store (even sale items!) using the promo code SHOPHAPPENS. Thank you Angela!
Read on to learn more about Angela and Gigee Marie:
How did you become interested in creating and selling your own handbags? What (or who) inspired you to go for it?
Growing up, I loved just about any type of arts & craft activity. I just enjoyed creating things and even more, I could be proud of the fact that it was something I made.
I guess you can say Gigee Marie derived from that love of creating things, but Gigee Marie wasn’t really planned. I bought a sewing machine and began experimenting with different projects. I’m a big fan of handbags and I just generally like things that allow you to carry/organize “stuff” (i.e. baskets, storage containers, etc.) I initially made pouches for my best friend who wanted to use them to hold jewelry that she was giving as a gift. From there I decided to think a little bigger and make clutches. At the same time, I had been thinking about starting my own business but I wasn’t sure what it would be. A light bulb went off and Gigee Marie was born 🙂
To be honest, it’s not an idea that I shared with many people until I actually launched my website. I had come up with business ideas in the past but didn’t see any of them through because I simply got bored with them. I wanted to make sure that this was something that I really wanted to do and I wanted to make sure I followed through before telling people about it. So until that point, my boyfriend was really the only person who knew about it, and he definitely inspired and encouraged me to pursue my business.
What’s your design process like? How does one of your bags grow from design to a complete product?
I read a lot of fashion magazines and blogs because 1) I thoroughly enjoy doing so, and 2) in an effort to keep up with trends and to find inspiration. My design process usually starts with a few ideas/trends in mind that I want to translate into a bag. I try to use concepts that are more likely to stay in style over time (although we know everything comes back around!) Also, if I don’t like a particular trend, I don’t incorporate it. I don’t want to create a bag that I wouldn’t wear myself.
After I decide on the concepts, I may sketch out the different pieces. Then, I head to the fabric store to start sourcing material. I always have to keep my fingers crossed that the fabric store has what I’m looking for because if not, it’s back to the drawing board (or hopefully I’ll be inspired by another fabric that I see in the store). Then I bring it home, cut the pattern, and sew!
What’s your workspace like? How do you work best?
My work space can get pretty messy with fabric and cutting tools spread out everywhere, but I try my best to keep it clean and organized. It’s actually a bit of a work in progress right now though. I originally shared an “office” space at home with my boyfriend. But that didn’t work out too well, so I moved my sewing table into our bedroom. Now, I’m realizing the need to have a room exclusively for designing and sewing, so I’m in the process of moving everything back into the old office (while my boyfriend has moved his office to the basement lol). I want my workspace to be a reflection of me, so I’m looking forward to adding my own personal touches.
When it comes to sewing, I work best first thing in the morning or on the weekends. I always listen to music while I sew because it makes the process more fun. I typically use the evenings during the week to do research, brainstorm, and/or interact on social media.
What celebrities could you see carrying a Gigee Marie bag? Do you design with a particular aesthetic in mind?
I always lean toward an understated look because that’s what reflects my personal style the most (“chic simplicity” is the term I always use). I prefer to make pieces that can be incorporated into various outfits, can make a statement on its own, and will still be considered stylish over time.
As far as celebrities go, I love Olivia Palermo….that girl can do no wrong in my book lol. I also tend to like celebrities that most people may not necessarily consider “style icons” but to me, their styles are relatable. I really like Lauren Conrad and LeToya Luckett because I think their styles are effortless, chic, and practical; I would love to see one of them rocking a Gigee Marie bag.
What’s been your biggest success so far?
I still have a long way to go before I achieve the success that I envision for Gigee Marie. Right now, I’m just humbled by the feedback that I’ve been getting, especially knowing that I didn’t go to school for fashion or design. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been presented with in such the short amount of time that Gigee Marie has been around. It was pretty cool being featured in Refinery 29 and on the local news, and I was also recently presented with an opportunity to possibly have one of my bags featured on the HBO series True Blood. I don’t think I expected that to happen after only 7-8 months!
Where can we find Gigee Marie bags?
Gigee Marie bags are currently sold at gigeemarie.com. If things go according to plan, hopefully you’ll be able to find Gigee Marie bags in a few boutiques in 2013.
Where can we find you?
Instagram: @Gigee_B (this is my personal Instagram, but I post a lot of things related to Gigee Marie)
Pinterest: Pinterest.com/GigeeB (this was also originally my personal Pinterest page, and I know I don’t pin as often as I should…but follow me nonetheless!)
Thank you so much Angela for the interview! It is always nice to reconnect and learn more about old friends 🙂 And readers, don’t forget to check out Gigee Marie handbags and use code SHOPHAPPENS for an additional 10% off already reduced prices!
If you’re interested in a spotlight here at ShopHappens, please feel free to give us a shout! We love finding new handmade products and businesses to showcase!