Being part of, or even watching, any creative process can be inspiring, energizing and fulfilling. I think everyone has ideas and dreams that they want to fulfill someday if only they have the time, money or talent… But when someone actually takes an idea and makes it a reality, it is an amazing thing to witness. In both my personal and professional life, I have had the good fortune to meet and work with many creative people–artists, photographers, museum curators, graphic designers, interior designers, florists, event planners, store owners, moms who love to craft–and I always wonder, how do you they do it? Often the answers are simple and sometimes they are more complex, but they are always inspiring. With Creative Q &A, I hope to create an ongoing series to ask these questions of some of the amazing creative people I know. I think their stories will be as inspiring and exciting to you as they are to me.
For this first Creative Q & A, I am excited to feature Inga Walker, owner and designer of The Classic Clutch. Inga and I met about 5 years ago when our children became classmates. Quite frankly, Inga is one of the most creative people I have ever known. She has a wonderful eye and a great sense of design of all types, from events and fashion to home decor and gardening. Whether she is working on a fundraiser for the kids school or helping a friend pull together some pillows and window treatments for their home, she has a real knack for making things look beautiful. So when Inga pulled me aside last spring and told me she had an idea for the perfect purse, I was not surprised. Within months, she had a prototype for The Classic Clutch–a preppy, all-American styled purse that is the perfect accent piece for any outfit with an array of colors to choose from, all with contrasting piping/lining. Over the last year, Inga has grown the line to include 18 styles, including a co-branded Classic Clutch in the iconic Nantucket Red with Murray’s Toggery Shop on Nantucket. Talk about taking an idea and going full steam ahead! I interviewed Inga this week during our kids swim practice (busy moms gotta get things done whenever and however we can!) and I’m sure you will find Inga’s Creative Q & A as honest, insightful and inspiring as I did.
Q: What inspired you to create The Classic Clutch?
A: I was searching for this type of purse design and style for myself. I wanted a simple design with classic lines in fun prints but I was never able to find it. I wanted a design that could be repeated in multiple patterns and fabrics so that the same style clutch could be paired with different outfits. The design would be so simple and classic that I would want to wear it with everything.
Q: How did you come up with the design?
A: The design came to me in one of those moments in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep and I had this idea pop into my head about creating the perfect purse. I knew I didn’t want to call it the perfect purse so I came up with The Classic Clutch. The design was in my mind from day one. I wanted it to be large enough to hold keys and a phone but not too small like a typical clutch. I wanted this to be more functional. I was also really inspired by the Bermuda Bag from the 80s that has fun fabrics and contrasting piping. A Bermuda Bag has interchangeable covers and The Classic Clutch is kind of a play on that—its a clutch that people can buy in multiples to pair with different outfits.
Q: Your purse fabrics are all so cute – how do you select the fabrics that you feature?
A: I purchase my fabrics in New York and I’m really interested in doing mostly cotton canvas although the winter styles are more silks and wools. When I look at hundreds of different fabrics, I pull what I like and what I would wear. I want these fabrics to be preppy and fun. I want to appeal to a wide range of people too and some people want a more simple style and solid color so I like to have a few solid colors as well as prints. Right now I have about 18 different colors and patterns and I think the range has appealed to a large range of styles.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of starting this business?
A: The opportunity to have my own design come to life and to have that design manufactured and then sold in a variety of different stores and areas of the country and to be able to interact with some amazing people–consumers and retailers. It has been really exciting for me to have it come to life. This year has been busy for me but I hope to take it to the next step in year two.
Q: What has been the most challenging part?
A: I am an artist and a creative person and I love that part of it so the business side has been the most challenging—creating a business and understanding business basics. I’ve had to learn a lot by taking classes and seeking out other people for help.
Q: As a full time mom with two school aged children, how do you balance the business and family?
A: That has been really challenging. It is a balancing act. I try to get a lot done when they are at school and at night but that is always something that I am trying to perfect and I haven’t really perfected it yet!
Q: What are the next steps for you and the business? How do you hope to see the business move forward in the next year?
A: I’m really thrilled about the co-branding with Murray’s and I’d like to do some more co-branding with other clothing retailers that I have my eye on to partner with next year. I’m also starting a sorority line with two or three sororities that I will be launching this fall on Etsy.
Q: What advice do you have for someone starting a creative business like yours?
A: If you have an idea, just go for it. I think that many times people don’t have confidence in themselves. Try it out and see if it is going to work. If you don’t, you will never know and then have regrets. That is what I did and I know that there are going to be ups and downs. Set your sights high and take it one step at a time and then you will build that confidence to see if your idea is a worthwhile one.