Schmancy Purses Interview

Miss Behavin' Bag

Today's handbag fashions are continually evolving, surprising us with fresh takes and interesting elements to redefine what are deemed as truly stylish, cute purses. Deftly combining casual chic with a hint of sweetness and a touch of glamour, Schmancy Purses offer unique bags that weave together vintage appeal with a sassy, girlish charm that make them very versatile -- as cute with comfy denim as they are with a tailored skirt suit.

LoveToKnow recently had a chance to personally learn more about the handbag line, which was developed through the talents of designer Erin Pata and the star of Broadway's Legally Blonde, Laura Bell Bundy.

Shcmancy: Combining Contrast = Cute, Stylish Purses

By chance, hand-sewn gift designer and farmer's wife Erin Pata met actress Laura Belle Bundy, who is currently starring in Legally Blonde on Broadway as Elle Woods. Although Erin had already been creating wonderful handbag designs, the combined inspirations of the two women created something truly unique -- and forged several styles used for Elle Wood's character in the show. Together the women have come up with incredibly unique and stylish purses.

LoveToKnow (LTK): Erin had already begun designing handbags when she met Laura -- can you give us any details about how the designs changed or were inspired by the two women working together?

Schmancy: When you team up a Broadway star and a farmer's wife you get an unusual duo. Pre-Laura, Erin was designing the purses with a lot of large floral patterns, old vintage aprons, and pearl buttons ... stuff you would have found in Grandma's closet. With Laura in on the design process the purses got a little more urban and glamorous. We started to add funkier fabrics, shiny new golds, and sparkly rhinestones onto the bags.

And then, because of Laura's starring role in the musical, we had the unique opportunity to design two bags specifically for Elle Wood's character in Legally Blonde. We blended the omigod-girly Malibu look, (pinks, frills, and sparkle) and conservative Harvard look, (browns, tweeds, and velvet) into one purse. Combining contrasting elements is sort of the philosophy here at Schmancy.

Inspirations: Rural Roots and Creative 'Mixing'

Kentucky Moon

LTK: The Schmancy designs are incredible - these cute purses are so unique in their details and combining fun, femininity and functionality. Obviously the designs were inspired in part by the character of Elle Woods and her ultra-girly sensibilities, but are there other inspirations that Laura and Erin draw upon to design the bags?

Schmancy: We [Laura and Erin] are both originally from rural areas of the country in the Ohio and Kentucky valleys where we both still have strong ties to our hometown families and friends who played vital parts in helping us each feel rooted and solid. So, both of us appreciate things that feel genuine and authentic. I think that is where the love of anything vintage comes in for both of us and then in turn, shows up in the purse design.

We also both enjoy mixing colors and textures, creating beautiful spaces around us and reinventing ourselves every morning with our closets... So the creative spirit is alive and well in each of us.

Fun Fact: In a little nod to our rural roots, we name each bag after real CB Trucker Handles.

Schmancy Philosophy and Today's Fashions

LTK: Today many designers and fashion experts encourage women to use handbags and accessories as an expression or extension of their personal style. How would you say that the Schmancy bags fit into this "fashion philosophy'?

Schmancy: Perfectly. These bags are not meant to be matched to an outfit... they are not meant to blend in quietly to the background of an outfit or a look. They are meant to be the main attraction! The ultimate accessory that screams individuality. We agree, accessories should be unique and say something about the person wearing them. Make sure your purse does! Our purses are made in limited quantities on purpose... to celebrate and advertise that every woman is a limited edition herself.

LTK: What advice would Schmancy give to women when it comes to choosing handbags?

Schmancy: Go with your gut. If you get that little thrill that comes while browsing the shelf at the department store, note it, then walk away, and if that thrill is still there an hour later go back and get it. Your purse should be fun and be an extension of you and give you a little thrill when you wear it out on your arm.

The Perfect Puppy Purse

Bruiser's Cruiser

LTK: The 'Bruiser's Cruiser' bag is adorable, as well as functional for women who want their small furry friends to accompany them wherever they go. What features distinguish this bag as a puppy purse verses a standard handbag or tote?

Schmancy: Although it looks like a tote, there is a waterproof nylon interior with a removable pad for easy cleaning, two pockets inside for doggy snacks or a cell phone, a sturdy leather bottom and adjustable straps, mesh windows and mesh top for easy breathing, a head hole on one side so the dog can look out, a short snap in leash to hold the dog from jumping out. Included with every order is a collapsible matching water bowl.

We have had so many requests for a standard larger tote that we are actually in the process of turning this bag into a handbag for women who don't need to carry their pooch.

What's Hot at Schmancy

LTK: Is there any specific bag style that is most popular among customers? And do the designers have a particular bag style that is a favorite?

Schmancy: The Elle Bag is the most popular. It sells at the show and Laura spends a lot of time after the show at the stage door signing fan's purses. But, oddly enough, Laura's favorite is the Sweet Demeanor purse. Erin's favorite is the Miss Behaven purse.

Custom Orders

LTK: The Schmancy purses are in limited editions and feature unique fabrics, details, and designs. Do the designers also work with custom orders, or strictly the bags inspired by Legally Blonde?

Schmancy: Absolutely we will work with custom orders. The only bags connected to the show are the Elle Bag and Bruiser's Cruiser. We created a bag specifically for Laura's Legally Blonde Opening Night and we have some plans brewing to create bags for other people's specific event, other shows or special affairs.

The Future for Schmancy Purses

LTK: What is the future for Schmancy Purses?

Schmancy: Our Spring line is in place. We will be coming out with a larger messenger bag, a take off on the Bruiser's Cruiser, a clutch purse and a computer bag as well as five new purse designs in the style we are already selling. On a personal level, Erin is about to have her third baby and Laura is continuing to enjoy performing every night in her role on Broadway.

For More About Shcmancy, or to Order…

For more about Schmancy Purses, or to place an order, please visit their website at www.schmancypurses.com. For information on orders, wholesale inquiries, or customer service, you can also call: (859) 396-6650. In addition to being available online, the purses are sold at boutiques across the country and also at the Legally Blonde Palace Theater gift shop in New York City.

To hear about the latest happenings at Schmancy, subscribe to their mailing list at mailinglist@schmancypurses.com.

Schmancy Purses Interview