Working with a variety of talented innovators, Clutchbags.com has recently sat down with some of its collaborators to explore their inspirations and designs. This week, we interviewed the designer Luis Castner of the brand Luis Steven.
Do you have any design background? If so, what experiences have you had that led you to this point?
No, I don't have any design background. I'm more of an entrepreneur with a creative side. My career is in Accounting and Finance; design has become my hobby and passion now for a few years. I've been experimenting with designs, fabrics, and learning all the ins and outs of the business. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, but it's all a learning experience. I realize it is a good combination to be able to run a business and be creative at the same time.
How did you decide to start making accessories?
My first business partner, Steven, involved me in design work and I've learned to love it. We came up with the original idea for a fashionable laptop backpack for work and travel, a brand name i.e. Luis Steven, and started producing leather bags. I was at a point of my life that I wanted to build my own business and this opportunity presented itself.
Is this your first time making accessories? If so, what important lessons have you learned from this process? If not, what skills did you bring in to creating this line of handbags?
Not the first time, I've been doing our original backpacks for over 10 yrs. I'm now expanding the concept of fashionable work bags by adding different designs to complement the line. As far as skills, I'm very creative with a good eye for color and fabrics. On the other side, organized, great planning and coordination skills, and lots of perseverance. These are all necessary to make something like this from nothing.
Why did you choose to make in the USA?
I've made the bags both abroad and in the US. There are benefits to either. In the USA, I can make smaller unit quantities and experiment more vs. the large quantities commitments required abroad. For a beginner without a lot of experience in the industry, it makes sense to work locally and have more control of the creative process.
Why did you choose this particular market of working women?
I've worked in corporate America for many years. I've observed professional women's accessories needs not being met by the large designers whose focus was always on fashionable but not practical designs. I see a lot of women carrying black nylon briefcases to work along with their designer handbags. Practical designs were designed only for men, but it's changing substantially. I'm hoping to lead the change.
Why did you choose to make these particular style of handbags?
My original laptop backpacks needed companion bags, e.g. totes and cross body bags, to form the "matched pair" of bags for professionals. The larger bag carries the work equipment, while the other carries the more personal items plus room for a tablet. Also, the weight is divided as well as the functionality.
Have you thought about creating men’s accessories? Why or why not?
Yes, some of our backpacks are Unisex as well as some upcoming designs. Men are slowly carrying more fashionable, leather bags than before.
What do you love most about design/accessories/manufacturing your own line?
It's a great creative outlet for someone who deals with numbers and charts all day. I love creating a beautiful product, selling it and getting wonderful customer feedback of how my product is an integral part of their lives.
Luis Steven accessories are available to shop @ www.clutchbags.com.