Today we’d like to introduce you to Valerie Blaise.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Valerie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m a handbag designer. But before that, I’m a Leather artisan, and even before that, I was a Haitian Immigrant living in Dorchester. I did much of my growing up in Boston trying to understand what being American was and finally being able to know it’s not monolithic allowed me to find my space in it. I started Vavvoune after I moved out of Boston but had the idea when I was still there. After purchasing a handbag online from a random but lovely vintage website (when I was in my early twenties), it dawned on me that I wanted to learn how to physically make bags and work with leather.
Once moving to NYC, I bought my very first sewing machine, it wasn’t the best but it can teach me how to sew. I read, watched internet videos, bought books, visited leather shops over and over to figure out how to work with leather. After making my first bag, I decided to start VAVVOUNE is 2015.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It defiantly has not been! From someone not having much experience or knowledge in Fashion Accessories, Design, and even sewing made starting a bag line, not the easiest. As a young black woman, people and professions do not take you seriously, especially in the ‘fashion’ world. That too comes with burdens and gives you space to buckle up and make adjustments.
Having a vision and staying true to YOUR own and YOUR own vision, inspirations will have you flourishing. Be kind to yourself and try to not obsess over things rather than allowing it to come to you. Put in the work and do all the necessary things that will grow your brand. Surround yourself with genuine friends and family who support you and take your ideas seriously. These are the things that I have to always remind myself. It isn’t easy, nothing is.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about VAVVOUNE – what should we know?
I make and design what my idea of cultured leather bags are. I’m most proud of my ability to be okay with change and starting over. Being satisfied if I start something spend days on and realizing that I don’t like the product. It’s all about progression and learning.
I believe modernizing classic leather accessories through subtle but efficient femininity. By ways of color, details, and versatility. Gives VAVVOUNE a good space in the industry of leather bags.
So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
That’s a great question and I feel the same way. But I think it’s necessary to talk and prolong the issues of what women are facing and have had to deal with. The unnecessary pain and the resilience we hold to conquer it. There are positions for women in ALL industries. I think it’s time the mainstream world recognizes and gives qualified women those opportunities.
- Bag’s range from $300-$620
Amandla Baraka (@totheppl)