After spending 25 years successfully designing handbags and launching leather goods for companies such as Fossil and Cole Haan, Sarah White decided to create her own.
“My true motivation is a very personal one,” White says. “As a busy entrepreneur and mother, I could not find handbags that were beautifully crafted, timeless in their design and, above all, versatile with purposeful function.”
After a year and a half of planning and designing, White launched her cleverly designed line this fall. Crafted from Italian leather, her styles include everything from totes to clutches to backpacks. While timeless, White’s designs also serve a distinct purpose.
“I saw a gap in the luxury handbag market and as I sketched the line, versatility and function became key elements from the get go,” she says.
White talked with us about staying in Dallas, embracing functionality, and designing for the next generation of #GirlBosses.
What guided your decision to be based in Dallas?
I began my career in New York City, but I’ve been based in Dallas for over 20 years. I love the modern sensibility that has been growing to become a prominent part of Dallas. It really is motivational for me, as a designer, to be in such a city of growth culturally, artistically, and commercially. There is such a strong community of both large and small businesses, which also really drew me to putting down the roots for my brand here. The business community here is incredibly nurturing. It was also important to me that we have our logistic resources close by, and Dallas certainly has that covered. It’s a big advantage. Dallas is a large city, but there is something about it that feels tight knit and close which is often difficult to describe. I have had such wonderful support, and I can’t think of a better city in which to start my business!
I love the modern sensibility that has been growing to become a prominent part of Dallas. It really is motivational for me, as a designer, to be in such a city of growth culturally, artistically, and commercially.
Most of your collection is built around an elegant simplicity—a classic, yet versatile style. What—or whom—was your inspiration for your inaugural collection?
My inspiration is the modern woman. Most women have such a busy lifestyle today, and I truly wanted to make each day just a bit easier and more organized. When you are organized, it makes you feel more confident. My collection is based on a lifelong love of simple shapes combined with thoughtful and refined design elements.
Architecture also plays a big role in the inspiration for my collection. My husband and I have renovated and built modern homes in Dallas, and I know that that process has been influential in the design of my handbags.
I don’t like excesses or anything that is not meaningful in our homes, and I translate that sensibility into my handbags. Every detail, stitch, and piece of hardware has a purpose. Many times I spend days or sometimes weeks on a small detail such as the amount of curve on the zip pull to make it easier to grasp or the correct proportion of a pocket to fit electronic items. It all ties back to making a product that fits the modern woman’s lifestyle and makes life a little easier for her.
Each piece has a set of small numbers embossed on them. Why did you decide to go with these markings instead of a full logo?
I am inspired by understated, yet meaningful design elements. I wanted to create a marking that is subtle but identifiable at the same time. The letters are my initials and each style number is a birthday of a family member or friend who has been influential in helping me start the business. I truly believe that nothing can be done alone, and it takes a strong support group to accomplish anything in life.
From backpacks to totes to clutches, you have varying pieces in your collection. What was your favorite piece to design?
Wow, that is a tough one. I love all of my designs, but I would have to say that the SW0914 Backpack is my favorite. I travel a lot and wanted a bag that fit a 13” laptop, but allowed me to be hands free. I literally began designing this bag and all my bags from the inside out.
Now, I love running through the airport to catch my flight! The backpack fits perfectly in the security bin and under the seat in front of me, which gives me just a little more piece of mind. In fact, we’ve sold many backpacks to women who see me carrying it at the airport and ask, “Where did you get that bag?”
Who do you see as your ideal client?
I want to create handbags and accessories for creative and influential women who want not only versatility, but a modern style that can cross seasons and trends. My goal is to have this and future collections be “The Bag of #GirlBosses” because as an entrepreneur myself, it’s important to feel not only empowered by your business, but by how you feel in your everyday life. Whether that’s walking into a meeting or going to dinner with friends, I want every woman who carries our bags to feel like the original girl boss.