I have several Belen Echandia handbags, which I’ve had for years. I’m not a person who treats her handbag delicately. They get overstuffed, carried on the tube, slung on the floor and then get carried around to fashion events, but my Belen Echandia bags leather just gets softer and the bags look beautiful. I met Jackie Cawthra, Founder and Creative Director of Belen Echandia, serveral years ago as we were introduced by mutual freinds. (It’s a great perk to have a friend who designs handbags!) Jackie’s a new mum and is constantly perfecting her business and she’s recently just redesigned her site!
Could you tell us about your fashion background?
Well, I am a lawyer and everything I learned I learned on the job. But I have always loved fashion. I love watching people and in my opinion the rise of internet style blogs can only ever be a good thing. It allows some people to share their style and others to get inspired by it, all without leaving the house. Genius.
How many years have you been online?
For 6 years.
What is better about the site?
It is cleaner and more luxurious, so it does more justice to the high quality of our bags. We have also improved the functionality so that you can search by more categories and we have added a style page!
What is the biggest challenge of being online?
People love the accessibility but they still want to touch and feel the bags. To get around that we sometimes send trusted customers more than one item. They return the one they don’t want to keep.
What trade shows do you exhibit at?
We have done London Fashion Week but we tend to send more online than to stores, so we make other appointments privately
What’s special about a BE bag?
Our bags are all made in Italy, in a family-run atelier. All the pieces are cut one by one, by hand. We make custom bags and have just launched a site to showcase them, at www.createyourownhandbag.com!
How would you describe Belen Echandia style?
Chic, understated luxury. We usually bring out 8-10 styles each season. We like to keep it capsule.
Where are you stocked?
Covet, Edinburgh, Harvey Nichols, Dubai, Clutch, Seattle and lots of other boutiques dotted around the place from time to time, but mainly at www.belenechandia.com because until now we have focused on our retail business more than our wholesale business.