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6 Independent Handbag Designers You Should Follow (that Happen to ALL be Black Women)

{Let me preface this post by saying I added the part of title in parentheses because I've read too many articles listing "Designers to Follow" and rarely in a mile-long list are there any black designers included AT ALL. And so those designers listed get to expand and grow their audiences from the exposure while our designers remain in the shadows. This post is my little way of combating that so please share, share, share! Independent Black designers are climbing a steep uphill battle.}

OK, back to the blog post...

I've been an indie handbag designer for longer than I care to count. Well OK, let's count. It was the year 2000 when I made my first bag and 2002 when I began selling them out of the little boutique I owned at the time but then I took a few years off to focus on life (finishing my degree, my corporate career as a footwear technical designer and motherhood). I started back up in 2008 when the market crashed and I walked away from my corporate life for good. Since then I've been designing under my own brand, Jypsea Leathergoods, for the most part of the last decade.

Back when I started, I didn't know another soul who designed handbags. Not one! But MY have things changed! Now I have personal friends who are very talented handbag designers plus I've developed great online relationships with handbag designers I admire and follow on IG.

I come from a background of earning a degree in Accessory Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the only school in the country offering a degree in this discipline at the time. But many of my design sistren took another route that led them here...from first being a clothing designer like Abina Wood, designer of Pomeroon; to first being a tv set stylist before quitting to pursue handbag design like Treasure, the designer of Nikki and Mallory. And then either teaching themselves or taking classes to learn what they didn't know.

Makes me wonder what countries I could have traveled to with all the FIT tuition

I wasted.


Just joking!

Meet the 5 other indie handbag designers I follow (PLUS THE BONUS DESIGNER AT THE END) and be sure to show them love.

But me first... ;)

I am based in NJ and I specialize in leather, particularly leather upcycled from discarded garments and furniture. I give old leather a new life. I also use new skins as well, if it has an exotic texture. I primarily make custom bags and only put out a new ready-made collection once a year because I am a mom/wife running 2 other businesses and teaching handbag/accessory design. But this is my first love!

Best Handbag Designers of Color

Amira Estell was raised in NJ, where I met her, but moved to Detroit several years ago. She studied Fashion Merchandising at Art Institute of Philadelphia and learned sewing at the Detroit Sewing Spot to hone her handbag-making skills. She's passionate about stylish, sophisticated handcrafted handbags and accessories. She also juggles it all as a mom, wife and mentor. Anddddd.... not only do we share the same profession, we share the same birthday! #LEOSRULE ;)

Best Handbag Designers of Color

"Where Bohemian Chic & Contemporary Vintage Collide."

Nikki & Mallory is designed by a fly California native named Treasure who makes Instagram FUN! I love her Workshop Wednesdays where she takes us into her studio and shows how she makes a bag style by hand. She teaches more of her techniques on her Youtube channel as well.

Her leather structured bags remind me of Coach but with much more flavor!

Best Handbag Designers of Color

The designer behind Pomeroon, Abina Wood, I also know from her life in NJ. Abina left her corporate life and trekked to paradise where she now handcrafts leathergoods. But Abina was always incredible creative. She and I had an art exhibit together a decade ago with the goddess-flowy cotton jersey dresses she used to make as a side hustle//passion project. Her leather bags are made-to-order in a gorgeous workshop full of nature in between her world travels.

Best Handbag Designers of Color

Miami-based designer and mama of the cutest little girl (plus one on the way), Cortnie Elizabeth of Love, Cortnie, makes clutches and shoulderbags that are trendy, colorful and in-demand. With over 40K followers, she is the most popular designer on this list. I think she does a great job showing that balancing motherhood and a creative business is totally doable and even fashionable.

Best Handbag Designers of Color

In the opposite direction of funky and colorful, is sleek and minimalist. This is where we find Tree Fairfax, a line of handcrafted leathergoods made of timeless design from locally-sourced leather at the time of order. The designer, Tricia Hash, incorporates the natural imperfections of the hides into the design, creating one-of-a-kind beauties. On her blog and in her IG stories, she shares her design process.

Best Handbag Designers of Color

As you can see each designer on this list has her own aesthetic and is therefore in her own lane. Before I get questions like, "How can you share your competitors with your audience?" understand that I don't see these women, or anyone for that matter, as my competitors. I only compete with the woman I was yesterday. These are my sisters in handbag design. You know how few people know how to design high-quality handbags? Very few! It's a pleasure to have others who speak my language and understand what my life is really like. I feel a bond and kinship to them. So please follow and support them all!


Honorable mention to @skwilbur who isn't on the list because he's not a woman but he is still very worthy of your follow as one of my favorite black men bag designers. His work is quirky, in your face, and full of personality! He is also the Founder of the Black Accessory Designers Alliance which uplifts and supports accessory designers of color!

Best Handbag Designers of Color

PS: If you are an emerging handbag/accessory designer wondering how to get started, I'm teaching Leathercrafting at the Fashion Design Center of South Jersey in September! Learn more and enroll here:

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