Handbags designed for everyday adventures

Ellie Jane Bags, Cleveland, Ohio

Sarah Larson is the mastermind and designer behind Ellie Jane Bags, a local line of handcrafted waxed canvas and leather bags. To say Larson is a busy is an understatement - she is not only an entrepreneur but also the mother of three children - and she was kind enough to make time to answer some of our questions about starting a business, being a fashion entrepreneur in Cleveland, and finding inspiration.


How did you get your start making handbags?

During my freshman year of college at Miami University, I had an idea of a crossbody bag I wanted to make with batik fabric. So, at Christmas break, I came home and asked my mom to help me make it. I wore it until it fell apart and then made another….then I made some for friends. I fell in love with the process… taking a pile of materials that had no meaning or purpose without the work of my two hands.  

What made you decide to open your business?

Since my first bag-build in college, I ventured into several other sewing projects over the years - some good, most not so good - but in the process, I realized I was continually drawn to making bags. I wanted my projects to be useful, to have a purpose, to be enjoyed by many. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third child (and our first little girl, Ellie Jane), that I decided I was going to take the risk to open up a little side hustle. I’d consider myself an introvert, so putting myself and my work out there was the last thing I wanted to do….but I craved the process of creating and sharing. I also knew that I wanted my new little girl to eventually learn from her mama….that taking risks are important, that being bold has great value, that chasing a passion doesn’t have to be a daydream. 

What advice would you give to someone starting a fashion-related business in Cleveland?

Keep your focus on your passion and not on what you think will sell. Products will sell when customers find value in them, when they can see you're passionate about your craft. Also, when you keep focused on what you’re doing, you’re less focused on what others are doing. There will always be someone doing the same thing as you or something similar. Energy is wasted on comparison.    

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I’m drawn to simplicity in design and colors of Earth….browns, greens, grays. I like to imagine the adventures my bags will take….traveling overseas, a companion on a day hike, trips to the grocery store with kids gripping tight, a walk to the farmers market. My bags are made with everyday adventure in mind.

What is the best piece of style advice you've ever received? 

I’m probably not the best person to ask. :) I don’t know that I’ve ever paid attention to style advice.  If I could live in jeans and a sweater everyday, I would!


Learn more about Ellie Jane Bags at www.etsy.com/shop/elliejanebags.

Photo credit: Kailey Marie Photography

Wednesday, October 4, 2017