Christina Wright is a long-time Power of the Purse designer and founder of Bespoke Accessories Group (B.A.G.). With not even a decade under its belt, the Christina Castillo brand is now recognized globally for its trend-setting handbag designs and superior quality leather goods. Each collection is a tasteful mix of feminine meets function and is a tribute to Christina's appreciation for style, quality, and convenience.
Christina has remained committed to producing her line under the expert eye of local designers and leather craftsmen. A true maker and advocate of all things made in America, Christina ran into many roadblocks when looking for the perfect factory to manufacture her bags. She discovered that there were very few, if any, companies still producing handcrafted leather accessories in the United States. With a profound appreciation for the craft and a desire to keep her small business local, Christina founded the Bespoke Accessories Group, Inc., a leather goods design studio and atelier, located in Portland's historic East Bank district. Bespoke Accessories Group is not only the manufacturing hub and headquarters for Christina Castillo but the company is now producing handbags and accessories for a variety of brands from around the country.
COLTY is a gender neutral lifestyle brand centered around small leather goods and accessories. The brand was created by COLTON HELFRECHT of PORTLAND OREGON. He has been designing accessories and sewing leather for over 10 years. COLTON wanted to create a lifestyle brand that was androgynous and spoke to both men and women. Blurring the lines between gender and fashion.
COLTY creates timeless leather accessories such as wallets, portfolios, totes, backpacks & body harnesses. The mood of the brand is dark and mysterious but also very modern. Only small limited collections are released every couple months. Giving the brand an exclusive and unique vibe. COLTY mixes bold colors and textures with clean shapes to create a sleek modern look with his leather accessories. The brand is also known for its different use of surface treatments on leather to create intricate textures and patterns.
COLTY leather goods are hand sewn in PORTLAND OREGON. The leather is selected from the best tanneries across the UNITED STATES. Only the highest quality leather cow hides are selected for COLTY leather goods. Each piece is designed, hand-cut, and sewn in a small workshop in SOUTH EAST PORTLAND. A small team of trained craftsman carefully create each piece with precision and care. COLTY is currently only sold privately through Instagram. DM for pricing. A full-size website will launch this Fall.
"My design journey has taken me from Paris, to Hawaii... to Oregon... from suits to bridal to handbags...
I've enjoyed designing just about every type of garment, and fell into the field of handbag design quite by accident a decade ago after turning a piece of precious fabric my aunt had given me into a handbag. While carrying that brightly colored pucci like fabric handbag on my shoulder around Honolulu...a local shop owner tapped me on the shoulder and asked me where I got it. I told her and she placed orders for a collection of bags from me on the spot. I've been running to keep up ever since.
I enjoy working with unusual types of fabrics, and have a fondness for vintage fabrics from the 60s and 70s. I'll turn just about anything into a handbag from a men's suit... to vintage leather bomber jackets... to a set of silk curtains. Clients will often give me something sentimental to turn into a bag.
Recently, I've incorporated travel into my collections... this is where I see my business evolving for the future.
Life is short... buy the cute handbag."
- Denise Tjarks, Owner & Maker
Ellington Handbags was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1986 with its showroom headquartered in its Portland location at 3620 Northwest Saint Helens Road. It has since become the iconic label known as Ellington Handbags by Mission Mercantile. Establishing itself as a luxury handbag company over thirty years ago, Ellington is now recognized not only domestically, but internationally for its designs.
The company continues to make its mark upon the handbag industry with various recognitions and achievements acquired over the years and is no stranger to the Power of the Purse event.
Every piece at Ellington employs the highest level of craftsmanship to create its leather pieces. Generationally owned artisans help to maintain their commitment to exquisitely made purses, totes and satchels. From meticulously sewn handles to beautifully constructed pockets, no detail is overlooked.
Boutique tanneries in Italy are some of the resources Ellington uses to hand select its fine leathers insuring that every bag becomes a timeless addition to the Ellington woman’s closet.
Everyone at Ellington, including our master bag designer, Mike Eggleston and Lead Developer Nancy L. Simon, are honored to be a part of Girls Inc. and to participate in the annual Power of the Purse Project.
"Ten years ago I sat on a tiny stool in a small leather shop in the Marrakesh souq, watching as a craftsman sewed a large leather cushion. As I followed his hands rapidly moving back and forth, needles flashing, he happily explained everything he was doing. He kept offering me glasses of tea and I kept watching and listening - utterly fascinated. When, several hours later, I looked down at the tray full of empty tea glasses, I realized that I was hooked before I even started working with leather.
That began a gradual learning process. Over the next few years as I was wandering around North Africa, Asia and the Middle East, fully a third of my backpack was stuffed with leather scraps, tools and powdered dyes. I continued to seek out local artisans, learning from anyone who was willing to share. I did leather work in all of my spare time, eventually replacing my camera pack with an ever evolving series of leather bags. When I returned home, my travels ended but my passion for leathercraft remained.
Little did I know back then in Morocco, sitting on that stool, that today I would own a successful leathercraft business. My small company of 3 employees offers a range of hand-crafted leather goods, specializing in smartphone wallets, tablet covers, wallets, travel goods, bike accessories and handbags. We produce everything in our studio in the Ford Building in SE Portland."
- Jeff Amrhein, Owner & Maker
"My name is Kayrene and I am Leather Girl Kelley. Thank you for dropping by my online store.
I started this deal in 2007, kind of on a whim. It was an accidental whim. Okay, I didn’t even mean to do it. But anyway, it turns out I just have a natural sense of organic-style, leather design which I have focused on ever since to craft as an art. I love designing and creating, and it delights me to have my creations end up in the hands —and on the bodies — of people who love my work.
I make everything by hand in my leatherwork studio, which is set up for wild, mad leatherwork production created in hurricane style.
Stand back — I am creating…"
- Kayrene Kelley, Owner & Maker
"I am a multi-faceted, thoughtful, and detail-oriented designer with extensive professional experience in healthcare. I draw inspiration from my Mexican heritage, my love for travel, other cultures, the arts, the simplicity, yet mysteriousness of life. I enjoy playing with asymmetry and different materials within my feminine-boyish aesthetic.
LOURDES é EVA, inspired by my paternal grandmother, strives to create and develop the birth of a fusion between my Mexican roots (the soul, the core of my being) and a girl raised in an American world. LOURDES é EVA helps define the woman who is feminine with a tomboyish flair and uses understated elegance as a form of self-expression. The silhouettes are soft, organic, and architectural in design."
- Nora Matilda Suárez, Owner & Maker
Looptworks is a certified B corporation design brand that creates meaningful products from excess materials. Looptworks repurposes abandoned materials into beautiful, long-lasting and limited-edition products such as bags, clothing, and accessories. With industry experience at Adidas AG, Jockey International, and Royal Robbins, Co-Founder Scott Hamlin is considered a thought leader on the circular economy from a practitioner's perspective. His passion is focused on re-imagining product creation with a focus on zero waste and closed loop manufacturing methods. By re-using the world's pre- and post-consumer excess, the Portland, OR, based brand aims to rid the world of waste while inspiring a generation to reduce their impact on the planet.
Looptworks has been featured on Oprah's O List, The Today Show, The Guardian, BBC, NBC National News, The Washington Post, Fox Business News, and many other mainstream media, blogs, and websites. Looptworks has partnered with major companies such as Patagonia, Southwest Airlines, LUSH Handmade Cosmetics, The Dave Matthews Band, and Toyota - just to name a few.
**In their first year designing for Power of the Purse (2016), Looptworks collaborated with Purse-o-nality and Grimm star, Claire Coffee, to create The Calvin (pictured first, below). The pack has been mass produced and continues to support Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest with a portion of its proceeds donated to support strong, smart, and bold girls!**
"My Great Grandmother, Mari Lassa, was strong and fearless. Her life story is one I carry and draw from for inspiration.
Born in the late 1800's in Les Aldudes, a small village in France’s Basque country, Mari was one of 13 children who labored in the farm fields of the Pyrenees. After a leg injury from the hard farming life in the mountains she wanted a better life for herself.
She came to America, settling in Los Angeles at age 19. She worked as a domestic, then she took a job cooking on a ranch where her older brother herded sheep. Here, she met and married fellow French immigrant Jean-Marie Coudures.
She created a big loving family and a large farming operation with her husband. She was a hard worker and was adamant to continue with French traditions and the French language in the household. To this day we carry on the lovely French traditions that was such a part of her life and our family has all learned from her about the importance of hard work and perseverance.
Mari Lassa is my family, my hero and my inspiration.
For me, it all started with a little fabric bag I bought in New York. I loved it so much I went back to the little boutique in SOHO to get another, of different fabric, for a friend. The thing I loved best was that I was the only one in the city that had this great bag! It was a little way I could feel special and unique in such a big city.
This brought about a desire to design and sew bags. My vision is to create something to make someone feel special and distinctive in this global world. I want to design and make bags here in Oregon. I want my bags to be functional, have simple lines and a raw beauty to them. I want to be inspired and be inspirational. I want to follow my dreams."
- Anne Scott, Owner & Maker
Janny Downey, Founder and designer, did her post graduate studies in Paris, France, where she received her degree in design from Le Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne - the world's highly noted school of haute couture. After working at Christian Lacroix and Chanel Haute Couture in Paris, she returned to Portland, OR, to launch her own line of high end children's wear in 1990. In 2003, she launched Minou-Minou, a ladies' handbag collection. This marks her 11th year as a Power of the Purse designer!
Mia Scofield, Founder, was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, so nature is a huge influence in the designs for Mo&Co. bags. We use natural components like cotton canvas, antiqued leathers, and high-quality suede. The rugged look of our bags has been described as "not too girly" - which makes sense, as the inspiration for the look is in the celebration of the women's rights movement of the 1970's.
All of the bags are made in India, so India is a strong influence as well. We work to bring handwork and traditional crafts to our bags to create a look that is rugged and functional... but pretty, too - just the right amount of girly!
Susan started designing handbags in 2010 when she decided she wanted to learn how to make leather shoes. She needed to learn how to sew with leather and her love affair with bags started then. Since then she has built her custom business and is now showing evening bag collections on local runways. Her design philosophy centers around the idea that a handbag should not only ornament its wearer, but make them feel bold, confident, unique, and empowered. She recently opened her own retail shop in the Pearl district of Portland, Oregon where she sells handbags, artisanal perfume, bath and body products, and runs fragrance workshops where clients can mix their own signature scent. She was inspired after a trip to Paris and a private lesson with a master perfumer, becoming captivated by the sense of smell and its power to trigger memories and emotions. She also designed and made a collection of solar powered bags in a collaboration with Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest and FashioNXT and is excited to explore the realm of wearable technology.
Founded in 1962 in Canada, SOREL brings its functionality and heritage of expert craftsmanship to the modern world of fashion, where it is inspiring a new generation of doers, builders, and creators. And though SOREL makes more than just boots, there’s a boot in everything SOREL makes. SOREL combines felt, wool, premium leather, and flawless construction with people who aren’t afraid to get their boots dirty.
*Girls Inc. is proud to partner with FashioNXT
FashioNXT brings Fashion Week to Portland, featuring talented designers from around the globe to showcase their collection(s) each October. Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest is thankful to be featured each year in one of the days of fashion for 'Girls Inc. Night'. Girls Inc. girls attend the show and sell raffle tickets to the crowd to raise money for Girls Inc. programming before they hit the runway themselves to read the Proclamation of the Day of the Girl and welcome guests of FashioNXT to the evening's show.
As a part of our partnership, FashioNXT designers (*) participate in Power of the Purse to design one-of-a-kind pieces for our live auction to maximize our fundraising potential. Thank you to FashioNXT and the talented designers that participate in both shows for your dedication and support of strong, smart, and bold girls!