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The Business of Fashion: Behind the Success of Allison Mitchell Handbags

If Allison Mitchell's journey was a Cinderella story, Cindy would have found a way to make more of those glass slippers and launched her own brand of footwear. Allison doesn't think of her business as her baby - she thinks of it as a business, and that has allowed her to take risks which others wouldn't. Starting with one DIY bag in 2014, her brand has grown to be featured in multiple luxury boutiques in Dallas like Stanley Korshak and Elements, boutiques in New York, and carried by clients all over the US as well as France and Spain. How does she do it? Allison's attributes her success to her motto of "99% business, 1% fashion."

Prior to launching her fashion career, Allison started a marketing agency 5 years ago, specializing in web design, digital marketing, branding, and public relations management. What started off as a small business grew rapidly to 32 accounts and 5 employees. Rapid expansion turned out to be a double-edged sword; as the business grew too fast without the extra capital to expand further. After cutting clients and reducing the size of the company, Brand New Marketing was better than ever. With the same rapid expansion of her handbag line, Allison focuses on maintaining a scalable infrastructure which expands with her business.

Her first handbag came about out of necessity, a simple DIY project that turned heads and gathered compliments wherever she went. Thus the idea of her full handbag line was born. While shopping at Elements, the bag drew interest from their buyer and they wanted to carry it in the store. Allison's first collection launched in 2014, full of bright colors and simple shapes. In the week leading up to Fashion X Dallas, Allison and her manufacturer created 60 bags in 7 different colors. One of the reasons her business was able to take off so quickly was her ability to design the product ready for production.

Exhibiting at Fashion X Dallas and entering the Dallas fashion scene, Allison knew the company had to portray a solid brand and a solid message. Her oversize clutches were luxury, chic, and minimalist. Dallas loved it, and soon Allison's work was available in multiple boutiques and trunk shows while retailing at Stanley Korshak.

Success is not all fun and games. Some of the obstacles Allison faced the last two years included inconsistency from manufacturers and securing extra funding to grow. Starting with a single woman creating each bag by hand in Dallas, quality dwindeled as the business grew and she had to upgrade manufacturing. As someone with prior business experience, but little fashion experience, Allison had to learn how to navigate the world of fashion buyers.

Today, Allison is launching her fourth collection while designing Spring 2017 and meeting with multiple showrooms in New York. Designing bags using animal skin is a challenge, but Allison has it figured out. Instead of contorting the natural shape of the material into unnatural shapes, she lets, "the materials talk to her," in creating the designs. The end result is effortless and chic. Through it all, Allison attributes her success to her business background, a passion for design, and an extensive understanding of how consumers view products and brands. Keep an eye out for her newest collection!

Allison's Tips for Success

  • Create a solid brand and message - it makes marketing a LOT easier

  • Don't be discouraged if things don't work out - it might not be the right time

  • Relationships and mentors are very important, don't be afraid to reach out for help

  • Think of your business as a business, and take risks!

  • Self-educate on subjects you're unfamiliar with

To follow Allison:

Instagram @AllisonMitchellHandbags

To follow me:

Instagram @czarina_ekaterina and @OurNewMonarch

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