LoveToKnow was absolutely delighted to interview the designing genius of Lani Click, creator of Palm Beach Purses and EcoChic Purses brands.
How Lani Click Began in the Handcrafted Handbags Business
LoveToKnow (LTK): Lani, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your wonderful handbags. When did your interest in purses begin?
Lani Click (LC): As a child, I was born with a vivid imagination. I loved to play with dolls and I invented their lives, families, and fashions. I loved dollhouses, too - especially all the accessories. Later, my focus switched to purses. Women seem to put all of their life possessions in them. I gave up the dolls and the dollhouses. The purses, their history, variety, concepts, and purpose attracted me. Somehow this connection charmed me.
LTK: You are a Yale University and Carnegie-Mellon graduate. What did you learn in school that you've been able to apply to your businesses?
LC: At Carnegie-Mellon University, I began to understand the creative process which applies to drama as well as design. When I began writing plays, I loved the risk and challenge of testing an original play against the tapestry of the stage. I learned to accept criticism and to understand that it was not a personal attack, rather it enhanced and clarified my writing. I saw that obstacles will often offer opportunities for growth that would not have been understood previously. I was also fascinated by the reaction of the audience to the play.
At Yale Drama School, I was the sole woman playwright selected for my class. This was challenging because I had no support system. My feminine side, my writing, and my goals were all tested. It took perseverance and courage to maintain balance. Yale had the requirement that we needed to understand theatre in all of its aspects-- acting, directing, lighting, set and costume design, and playwriting. We were encouraged to "jump in" and volunteer as a part of the creative process. This gave me the skills to work with all types of artists. I learned to tolerate the eccentricity of extremely creative minds. And, further, mentoring and volunteering have become a way of life.
LTK: Which purse are you carrying right now and what are your personal favorites?
LC: It varies. That's why we create collections. Purses are like flowers. Which ones do you like best? Certain times you may prefer a wild orchid. On another day, a pink hibiscus. It's like that with purses. We have purses for moods, events, work, play, day, and evening. Here are a few of my choices:
To sum up, if I were an octopus, I'd probably carry at least 8 purses at one time with joy and delight.
More About Palm Beach Purses
LTK: You come out with new fashions every season. Where do you find your inspiration?
LC: Inspiration and creativity are emotional, ephemeral, and intuitive. To define this is a bit challenging. Pure purse design is best learned in the process of production. Allow the design to go into the world and see what happens. How is the response? We try out many combinations, and based on suggestions, we are often improvising and perfecting our designs. Some purses look better in the abstract. If they're not popular, we move on. We select our best. We are based in a tropical setting in South Florida. We draw inspiration from nature - the play of light on the water, the pastel variations of the morning and evening sky, the wind through the foliage, and of course, the lush flowers.
LTK: You have two separate sites, palmbeachpurses.com and ecochicpurses.com. What is the difference between the two product lines?
LC: Palm Beach Purses is the original company of the two. This is a Florida based company with many designs exclusively created and manufactured in the USA. Many are made of silk and chiffon and have beading. The Palm Beach Purses are more technically intricate and ornate than EcoChic Purses. EcoChic Purses are green fashion and very affordable. They're fashionable, durable, and predominantly informal. Our totes are beachy, trendy, and hip and are used by those who wish to set an example to remind us of our limited resources within the earth's balance.
LTK: Any plans to add additional products soon?
LC: We are always in the process of creating new lines. We visit art museums, antique shows, theater, and concerts for ideas and inspiration. We visit a variety of places like New York, Chicago, Rome, and the ancient ruins of Greece. We watch people everywhere. Currently, we're working on our fall line with some exciting Mediterranean influences.
LTK: What would you advise someone wanting to purchase one of your handbags as a gift and how to select the perfect one for the recipient?
LC: The perfect handbag for a friend with an unknown style is a gift certificate. Our gift certificates fit any price range. If you do not have a clear idea of what she would adore, then she can select her choice at our online store. Buying a purse in a tough economy is a way to have style and enjoyment at an affordable cost. A work of beauty is a joy forever.
Protecting the Environment and Giving Back
LTK: Your EcoChic line actually rescues fabrics before they go to the landfill. Can you share with us the advantages of owning one of these purses, both for the environment and the owner of the purse?
LC: EcoChic, our newest product line is "green fashion." Many of the fabrics are beautiful, expensive, and never used. They're either discontinued or remnants. So we create original purses with limited quantities that are unique, affordable, and classy. The effort and quality are identical to Palm Beach Purses, but are set at a lower price point. We are also creating a renewable resource for the environment and showing our dedication to the earth.
LTK: You also help other small business owners through consultations. What is the one piece of advice you'd give someone wanting to start their own small business designing any type of product?
LC: Studies have shown that the majority of businesses fail within the first five years. To avoid this, have a good business plan and a good web site design. A good web site provides exposure beyond your local markets. You will need an excellent product and marketing skills. There will be a lot of setbacks and rejection so be prepared. Passion and perseverance play a role in your attitude. Also, be open to reevaluating and reinventing what you do. Know when to change direction.
A Few Final Words from Lani
Our choices define us. Being an entrepreneur is not simply selling purses. Be charitable. Donate to your favorite causes. Ignite, inspire, and mentor young people. Share your ideas, wisdom, and enthusiasm. Explore the fun side of work. Passion and a wise heart result in a meaningful life. And, remember to have reverence for the earth and its resources.