I’ve never been a handbag person. There are very few designers that tempt me to purchase, and even fewer that I think are worth raving about. However, browsing through etsy one day I stumbled upon a shop that made me swoon: Valhallabrooklyn. For the first time I got excited about bags! Something about the designs connected with me. Perhaps it was the unique urban chic features, such as the roomy front pockets. Or maybe it was how easy they would work into a number of different looks. It’s as if someone finally understood what I desire in a bag and created an entire collection to suit my needs and treat my eyes. I had the pleasure of interviewing Karin, creator of Valhallabrooklyn to learn more about the woman who turned me into a bag enthusiast.
Tell me a little about yourself: Name, location, affiliations
My name is Karin javidi, I work from my home in Greenport, Long Island NY.
I’m a one-woman business, I don’t have any employees and I am in charge of everything from purchasing materials, designing, manufacturing, shipping etc.
When did you begin designing handbags?
I started designing and making handbags in 2005 after 7 years of making dresses for a company in NYC
What inspires your designs?
I get inspiration from magazines, the internet, walking the streets of NYC etc. I also try to figure out the most practical yet stylish shape and pocket outlay for the handbags which sometimes can be a little challenging. When I had my 2nd baby I made myself a large diaper bag with lots of compartments and pockets and I found myself constantly looking for stuff since I couldn’t remember which of the 17 pockets I had left my car keys in.
Do you have a favorite among your collection? If so why?
I love the Okinawa bag made from “bubbled” lamb the hide has gone through a washing/shrinking process that not only makes in much thicker and sturdier than usual, but it has this great texture to it that I love. I use smoother cow hide for all the trimmings, side panels, handles etc. It’s one of my most popular bags for sure.
What can you be found doing on a typical Saturday afternoon?
Usually we spend the weekends finding yard sales,-there are so many great ones out here on the North Fork of Long Island all summer long, I also do a lot of landscaping and yard work, – if the bag business ever fails, landscaping is my plan B hah!
How did you hear about etsy.com and what made you decide to sell there?
My mother in law showed me an add in a crafting magazine in 2007
I was really sceptic though – I had never heard of etsy before, but I though what the heck, I’ll give it a shot and It pretty much turned out to be a viable way of income right from the start.
Besides designing handbags what else do you do?
Had you asked me this 6 years ago I would have said traveling, camping, baking, reading lots of books but I have a 3 year old son and a 5 month old baby, so at this point I squeeze in sewing when he’s sleeping. When the kids are older I hope to have more time for other crafts (knitting, stained glass, etc.)
What are your future plans for valhallabrooklyn?
I’m currently in the process of outsourcing production, I have a lot of stores and boutiques that have asked about wholesale and I just cannot keep up with orders and financially it does not make sense to me to sell the bags for half/wholesale price.
so eventually once this is up and running I’ll stop selling on Etsy all together and just do wholesale, it will be the end of hand made bags from Valhallabrooklyn but it’s the right thing to do for me at this point.
What’s in your handbag?
Make up, a diaper, toys, lego, keys, a couple of old receipts with a hunk of gum stuck to it, my wallet and a few other chotskies.
Where can readers go to find more about you and your work?
I have a webpage: valhallabrooklyn.com
-but I’m not the best at updating it, I know how to sew but I’m not to savvy when it comes to promoting myself, it’s in the works though,- it is! But a couple of kids got in the mix and I had to push all this business stuff back a little bit.