Buying a Beijo bag is like having a girl's night in and going shopping all at once. Read on to find out more about how Beijo bags creator, Susan Handley, got her start.
Beijo Bags: The Story
LoveToKnow (LTK): How long did it take before you felt truly successful with your line?
Susan Handley (SH): I don't feel that yet. I have so many ideas and designs that I need to see come to life.
Selling Beijo bags at home parties happened organically. I had no intention in doing parties mostly because I never enjoyed going to home parties myself. When I was asked to do my first Beijo party, I was instantly determined to make Beijo parties different from other home party experiences. When I became too booked to do them myself I knew I had found my niche.
LTK: You started designing handbags when you were ten years old. Did you ever deviate from the fashion design course, or did you stay true to your passion over the years?
SH: When I was ten years old and playing in my mom's closet, my idea of the perfect handbag included lots of sparkles and the basis of my designs was 'More is more'. I attribute a great deal of my successes to the fact that I grew out of that phase. I appreciate the classic look with hints of trend.
Most of my designs can be pulled off the closet shelf years from now and be just as fashionable as the day they were purchased. I am exploring more now with different materials and allowing myself to play. My designs tell a story and are very much a part of me.
Until now the edgy, fun side of me has come out mostly through color. However, I am in the process of developing different collections that will show off various sides of my personality. I am having a blast. It has been a challenge for me because owning and running a company can stifle one's creative process, but having the right people in the right place is allowing me to be more creative.
LTK: On the Beijo site, there's a quote, "Success is being able to balance your life and be passionate about what you do." You've obviously done exactly that. Do you have any tips for busy women when it comes to achieving that balance and finding what you're passionate about?
SH: I can tell you that working to achieve balance in my life is a constant effort.
Life is an ever-changing thing so I am always adjusting my approach.
Realistic expectations of myself as a mother and business owner are ultimately what allows me to achieve balance. What works for me is setting realistic goals, and then when I achieve them I feel empowered. That empowerment drives me forward with a positive force.
As for advice for other women: Follow your instincts; they are the most powerful things you have. Be flexible yet focused, and surround yourself with people who believe in you and your vision.
LTK: What have you learned throughout the course of your career? What do you wish you'd done differently? What was your proudest moment?
SH: I have learned that I truly can do this…I AM doing this. The journey has to be enough. Having a 'Now I've made it' goal casts a shadow on what is perfect right now.
I am not a big believer in regrets so to say what I'd do differently is tough. All of these experiences both good and bad have brought me to this moment. I wish I had been kinder to myself. Believed in myself more and not been so incredibly hard on myself when I couldn't make every single person happy.
My proudest moment thus far is when my twelve-year-old son turned to me about a year ago and told me he was proud of me. When I asked him if it was because all the girls at school loved Beijo, he said no, "I mean I am proud of you as a mommy."
Beijo Donation Program
LTK: Tell me more about the Beijo donation program.
SH: At the very grassroots level, our Independent Sales Consultants are a part of, and provide service to, the communities that they live, work and shop in.
Beijo handbags are easily noticed and our consultants are often asked to provide product to charitable causes, auctions, fundraisers and the like. This act of giving happens daily in cities all across the country.
At the next level, Beijo sales teams work together to benefit regional causes. The most recent example of this generosity was with the 2008 Beijo Spring Launch Tour. Across the country, Beijo sales teams worked together and in conjunction with Beijo to launch Beijo's spring line while benefiting various charitable groups at each location.
In February, the beneficiaries of this event included: St. Jude Children's Hospital, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Attitudes and Attire, American Diabetes Association, Alzheimer's Association, USO-Soldier, Metro Angels, YMCA, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society and SCV Women's Shelter. Together, these events raised over $15,000 in a three hour period.
At the company level, Beijo supports a number of national organizations with both monetary and product contributions. These organizations have included Dress for Success, the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and many more charitable groups.
Showcase Handbag Parties
LTK: The showcase parties seem like the perfect place for girls to be girls, getting together with friends and talking about handbags. What's a typical showcase party like?
SH: Beijo home showcase parties are truly fun. A guest is welcomed by their hostess who, in most cases, is their friend. Then she spots the bags and it's off to shop. We understand that some women want to 'just stop by' and look with no pressure. Parties are about fun and selection. Walking out the door with your new Beijo is like having your cake and eating it too.
Beijo Price Range
LTK: What is the price range of the bags?
SH: When I started this company, my goal was to design fashionable bags that were affordable for women. Most women cannot afford to spend more money on their bags than their rent. And they shouldn't have to. Handbags are fun, so buying one should not stress you out. Women can own a Beijo bag for as little as $69. Beijo accessories such as wallets and watches sell for around $29.
LTK: Tell me more about the Impressions Collection. What makes it special?
SH: The Impressions Collection is unique and fun for two main reasons: First, the collection itself honors some of our most popular and time-tested designs, the very designs that have left the greatest lasting impression on many of our loyal customers. Secondly, Impressions is founded on a very unique treatment of the chic and fashionable "croc print" look that is so popular today
In addition, our newest line is enhanced with an engraved logo medallion, complete with the lips, making these bags "dressed to impress".
LTK: What's your all-time favorite Beijo bag?
SH: That is a tough one. They are each lovable in their own way - like children. I'd have to say 'Over the Moon'. It was an instant favorite that looks great in every color, and it is still one of our best sellers six years later.
LTK: What is it about Beijo Bags that makes them stand out among the competition?
SH: Beijo is unique in many ways. I have been told there is an unexplainable magic in these bags. It's as if all that I have been blessed with is in each one of them.
For more about Susan Handley and Beijo handbags, including information on purchasing and hosting your own home party, please visit the Beijo website at www.beijobags.com.