Genevieve Abigail Meers is a handbag designer, who has travelled the world extensively with her family. “When I decided to enter the fashion industry, handbags just seemed like a good idea. The travelling is what contributed to my decision to create handbags that are ‘symbolic’ to my travels. I absolutely love fashion, but even more, I love fabric!” says Genevieve.
“A diploma in fashion design, textile design, or graphic design would really help to succeed in this business, but if a person has enough passion and determination, anything is possible – even without a formal education. Pattern construction, sewing and other skills that are needed can be learnt quite easily, but without a passion, it is unlikely that you will succeed. It has been said at least a trillion times before: ‘Live your passion, and the money will follow.’ Why then, do so few people listen to that advice? Do not be a jack-of-all-trades. Become a master of one – whatever you are passionate about – and then you can play around with other ‘smaller’ ideas.”
“Designing handbags requires a lot of patience, hard work, and even sleepless nights! But the more fun aspects are the design, creativity, experimenting, choosing fabrics, silkscreen printing, beadwork, embroidery, selling and marketing – and those are only a few of the fun elements!”
“An average day of work involves brainstorming, designing, choosing fabric, cutting, cutting, cutting … and sewing! This kind of work would suit highly creative and courageous individuals, who can delegate and manage a team – someone who can build relationships and keep eccentric people happy.”
“I love my career, because there is so much more that I can still do, and things I can make – shoes, belts jewellery, clothing – there is no limit to my imagination and creativity. I also get to experience some very entertaining moments with some of my more eccentric clients – like the time I was designing an outfit and handbag for a gay client of mine. He came to my house for a fitting and I caught him trying on a few of my personal items of clothing,” she laughs. “I found it very amusing. You get to meet some very interesting people in this industry!”
Genevieve says it’s difficult to give an idea of how much a handbag designer can earn. “It really depends on many different things. As with any business, the sky is the limit, but it will take time to get there. This is not the kind of business where there is instant financial security. The reason is that handbags are a luxury item and times are tough for many people these days. So keep a day job, if possible, unless you have the capital or financial support at hand.”
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