Judy Cummins describes herself as an accidental entrepreneur. Starting the Elizabeth Grace brand a year shy of her 60th birthday was the result of determination, resilience and naiveté.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START A HANDBAG BUSINESS?
I was designing and sewing leather handbags as a hobby/business and decided I would rather design than sew. While I was searching for someone to sew my bags, I was introduced to Briana Hartsock, (www.emergingmoda.com) a product development and production consultant. My idea to outsource sewing morphed into a handbag company. It sounds crazy but that's how it happened.
WHY DO YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS AN ACCIDENTAL ENTREPRENEUR?
I didn't set out to start a company. I thought I was just finding someone to sew my bags. I hadn't really considered what would be involved in getting from the design to the finished product once I outsourced. I had always done everything myself - and on a very small scale. I don't have a background in fashion or business but I have passion and determination in spades! I've been fortunate to navigate the process with very seasoned professionals.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO HAVE YOUR BAGS MADE IN ITALY?
My heritage is Italian and I feel a connection to the artistry of the Italian craftsman. Having my bags made in Italy from Italian leather seemed like a natural choice.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE NAME FOR YOUR COMPANY?
Elizabeth and Grace are my daughters' middle names. I love how they sound together!
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT AND CUSTOMER?
My bags are simple, elegant and made from soft leather. I design with gentle lines and minimal hardware to produce a bag that's versatile and comfortable to wear. My customer is a woman who appreciates excellent quality, is interested in the story behind her fashion and has the confidence to set her own style.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR Elizabeth Grace?
One of my goals is to provide my customers with a connection to the Tuscany Region in Italy where Elizabeth Grace bags are made. There's a tranquility, beauty and authenticity to the place and its people that I aspire to communicate in my work.
I'd like to expand my product line by adding accessories and small leather goods and add new handbag designs each season.
I romanticize about having a small store in the future. I envision exposed brick walls, worn wood floors and a kickass espresso machine!