As we emerge from a snow and ice covered Minnesota, we start to look out to warmer and sunnier days of spring and summer ahead. Even though the weather here in the Midwest is like a Wheel of Fortune, you never know where the wheel will stop, we have grown accustomed to it's unpredictable climate patterns by now. Every year we brave the possibility of snow in May (insert sigh here) but… we know in time we will be rewarded with beautiful better-late-than-never spring and gorgeous Midwest summer. We are blessed to enjoy many lakes, parks, nature trails, breweries, open patios and outdoor concerts. A whole lot of amazing that comes with living in our beautiful state.
One other thing that is amazing about this state is its local talent, creatives and artists who make us oh-so proud. Whether it’s the food we eat, clothes we wear or music we listen, we are key role players in helping small businesses flourish and decorate our neighborhoods for years to come. Aside from purchasing local merchandise, attending small business events and sharing local brands on social media, I also highlight them in my blog whenever I can.
With that in mind, I would like to give a shout-out to creators of the trendy and stylish Pursey handbags. It is a Midwest all girl team and an inventive force. If you have not heard of Pursey yet, don't fret. This blog post is all about getting to know the brand and the creatives behind it. Superb ladies behind this amazing women run business are lovely Randi Larson, her sister Jeni Kurtyka and their lifelong friend Holly Foltz. I was as much fortunate as eager to interview Randi, who was as equally happy to share her team’s passion and everything that is Pursey.
So Randi, please tell us how did Pursey come to life, or the idea of Pursey that is?
“Our lives had the feeling of being very small. We were really beginning to question if it was just time to "settle in" and accept life as it was. We knew we wanted something different and we had tried a few things, but nothing had panned out, so we gave up trying to figure the "thing" out. Instead we focused on how we wanted to feel and the lifestyle we wanted to create. We gave up the how and focused on the why. For example, we wanted to do something creative. We wanted to collaborate. We wanted to spend time together having fun. We liked making something out of nothing. We wanted to travel. We liked art, Jeni & Holly liked fashion (I do as well, but it had not been an interest for a long time). We wanted to feel free, joyful, inspired, and creative. We decided to focus on the feelings and the lifestyle we wanted to live and then we promised to follow anything that felt like that.
Then one weekend, the three of us were together, heading to the Women's March in Jan of 2017 and I accidentally called my sister's purse a "pursey" as we were leaving. We had the most fun joking & laughing about all the things we could put in our "pursey" and it really just snowballed from there. I couldn't get the idea out of my head. I began tearing handbags apart, to see how they were made, to see if I could sew one. As we kept getting together to figure out how to bring it to life, the energy around it grew and we began to realize that we had found what we had been asking for, but never in a million years would we have known it would be in the form of a handbag. It's just so much better than we could have imagined for ourselves. “
That is so very cool. I love how this little funny word slip-up snowballed into such a cool creative idea, and of course into a ‘together’ project that resulted into what Pursey is today.
I have to ask, what is with the shape of the Pursey MARCH ON style, it looks like kitten ears?
“Yes it does and people often ask us if it's supposed to look like a cat. The triangles are a custom shape & size. The triangle is very significant to us for a multitude of reasons. In this first design they are placed in the corners of the bag, partly because this first design inspiration happened at the march. There is a subtle nod to that day, inspired by the pussy hat. But we named it the MARCH ON because it is about so much more than that day. It's become a symbol of what is possible when one connects with their power and makes the decision to rise above their current reality, disconnect from the status quo and create the life of their dreams, regardless of what people have to say about it.”
I applaud you for this and think that it is a very unique way to subtly start a conversation about such important topics troubling our society today. I feel that in terms of women’s rights especially, we still have a lot to talk about. The road might be rocky, but together we can ‘march on’ and rise above.
Now I have to say I love the versatility of the bag, how many different ways can you wear it?
“So far we've worn the MARCH ON a backpack, fanny-pack, cross body (long or short), on the shoulder and as a clutch. Several of these ways were not from the original design but have come from trying things out and playing with the chain. We really want you to make it your own and we've seen the different ways women have come up with wearing it. We LOVE that! “
We LOVE it too! I really feel drawn to an idea of the backpack, as I am always running around after my kiddos and the puppy. This leaves my hands free to play an octopus.
REBEL is also a fantastic piece, so fierce. Tell me more about it?
“The REBEL is our second design. It comes with two sizes of detachable chains which makes it versatile as well. We thought there was four ways to wear this one as well, but we just received photos of someone who made it into a backpack on a trip to Mexico. The word REBEL is significant both to us and for humanity at this moment in time. This wasn't in our wheelhouse. Yes, we were creative but we did not have specific experience with designing handbags, manufacturing, or retail/product based business, or even Instagram, so we had to make the choice to REBEL against our own limitations and end the stories that we told ourselves on who we could be and what was possible for our lives. Every single day we choose to move beyond our perceived limits. We believe humanity is being asked to make these same choices. The world is changing and the way we've always done things is no longer working for everyone. It takes immense courage to break from the status quo and go your own way. The REBEL is honoring that courage. It's a symbol of our glorious rebellion individually & collectively. “
So the purses are designed here in the Midwest, but made in New York?
“I live here & Jeni & Holly live in North Dakota, we run the business together & do the designing collaboratively. We wanted an American made product. Being new to this entire process, trying to do something overseas felt very overwhelming. We also feel strongly about having product that was produced from a living wage , in an ethical work environment. We absolutely love New York, so that was the first place we looked. We found the perfect fit for us with our manufacturer. They catered to us being brand new and walked us through the process step by step and handled sourcing of materials which really brought the process to a place we could wrap our heads around. They are true craftsmen and we love the quality and expertise that they bring to our designs. “
Ethical fashion is so very important. Not a lot of brands practice this and choose to cut corners on working conditions, fair trade, sustainable production and the environment. I’m glad you are setting an example.
How does it feel when you see someone wearing one of your amazing pieces?
“It's absolutely AMAZING! We've already seen how women are making PURSEY their own & we love that. They have come up with new ways to wear the handbag, which is so fun to see. PURSEY is really a statement piece & yet it's really versatile in both function & style. We love seeing it on women who love it. It's literally the best. “
In the end, is there anything else you would like to add about the brand, the product or what to expect in months ahead?
“We are in our second production run expected to be complete at the beginning of May with new colors and the DISRUPTOR which is the MARCH ON body style with the REBEL embossed into it. That is on pre-sale now and it is amazing! We are also adding a large tote in the coming months along with heading to the wholesale market in September with our first trade show in New York. “
This is all so very exciting and I am looking forward to seeing all the new styles, colors and sizes coming ahead.
I want to thank Randi for taking time in her busy schedule to talk to me about Pursey Handbags. It was a captivating story of how small humorous moment sparked an idea. It is a story of three friends who got together and co-created not just a product, but also the environment in which their creative passion ignited and turned into something truly magnificent. It is an ever lasting proof that no dream is too small, and that chasing one such dream has no expiration date.
I hope you all enjoyed this post. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or if you just want to say hi. If you wish, you can also send me a private message. Stay well and be happy.