Jamie Lewis of JLEW Bags Collaborates with TTM

Posted on November 02, 2016

Meet Jamie, a woman we swear has superpowers.  Not only is she brilliant, but also is one of the nicest and most generous people our team has worked with, to date.  When we first met Jamie of JLEW Bags, her focus on women’s empowerment and #GirlswithGuts had us smitten.  Together, JLEW and TO THE MARKET collaborated to create a truly stunning beaded clutch– designed by Jamie and produced through TO THE MARKET’s artisan network (pssst…you can buy it here!).  Did we mention Martha Stewart saw it?  Read on to delve into the mind of this Wonder Woman!

 

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1.  You’re a Wall Street heroine turned fashion entrepreneur.  What compelled you to make this switch and how did you prepare? 
I’m smiling thinking about a story I told last night when someone asked me whether I was afraid to step into a boxing ring for the first time because I didn’t ever picture me in the ring until I was walking up the steps and barked at myself, “oh my Jamie, what did you get yourself into this time?”  Starting JLEW bags feels similar – I just plunged and didn’t spend too much time hemming and hawing.  One could say the years spent as an investment banker and research analyst and my business school education prepared me for entrepreneurship, but I disagree.   If I had written a traditional business plan, built a financial model and tried to measure success against pre-set goals I don’t think I’d be where I am.  I had an idea that really excited me so I dove in blindly and trusted in myself, my skill-set, my ability to work hard and build things.

 

2.  Tell us about the brand JLEW bags — what is the aesthetic and who are your bags for?  We believe women CAN do it all but often appreciate a little help, so we created one bag that can take them from work to workout to weekend in style . . . JLEW bags helps her stay organized and avoid having to think about packing multiple bags for her various daily activities, but still look fashionable going from one activity to another, whether she’s a student, career woman, mom, travel bug, etc.

 

3.  You clearly care deeply about how your products are made.  Tell us about your Made in the USA effort!

Thank you for noticing!   We really do.   Growing up in the Midwest with family members who adhered to strict “buy American!” disciplines planted the seed. That said, upon researching manufacturing options, I found myself embarrassed that I really didn’t understand the extent to which skilled workers in America had been displaced.  When I heard the stories and saw the impact first hand, it weighed on me and compelled me to action.  By manufacturing our standard collection of bags in Brooklyn, JLEW bags helps protect US jobs and narrow the trade deficit. It also helps us to ensure every bag is up to our high standards of quality, gives us greater ability to customize our designs, and produces less waste in the production process. On top of that, it gives us peace of mind knowing that the skilled craftsmen and women who make our bags are working in safe conditions and are paid a fair wage.

 

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4.  You had this gorgous clutch produced by TO THE MARKET’s network of artisans.  Why did you decide to work with TO THE MARKET on this project and tell us about the clutch design!   

Our signature bow came about when trying to design a logo.  One day I found myself doodling cursive J letters, backwards, forwards and upside down until I had what looked like a butterfly (“mariposa” is my favorite word in Spanish!) or the bow formed when tying the laces of boxing gloves . . . both things that make me smile.  Our head designer, Nick, gets credit for the idea of having this bow beaded on clutches and truly I smile every time I look at this clutch – we hope customers do too, knowing they’re investing in genuine #GirlsWithGuts.  Our brand’s ethos centers around championing women and we couldn’t think of a better way to do this than by paying a fair wage to highly skilled artisans in your network.  The women that created this in Haiti did a beautiful job.

 

 5. Any words of wisdom to entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own businesses? 

 If you’re ready for lots of highs and lows but the adventure of your life, stop thinking and just start!

 

6.  What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?   

Is it bad if I confess that I tend to do the exact opposite of what people advise me to do just for sport?  I really do like to march to the beat of my own drum and think for myself.

 

7.  We’re hooked and can’t wait to collaborate again! Where can our friends find this amazing piece?
 On our website here!   You can also follow us on FacebookInstagram and join our mailing list to stay informed on our latest line, including of future versions of the clutch!
Jamie Lewis with Martha Stewart

 


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