Cortnie Elizabeth started out making handbags as a hobby, but her way of passing the time has since turned into a thriving, money-making business, Love, Cortnie. “I don’t really look at it as ‘opening up a handbag company.’ I started for fun as a hobby and it grew into a full-time business,” she told us. “My grandmother taught me how to sew. I kept at it because it was something that I genuinely enjoyed doing. I’ve always been pretty creative. Making handbags was the perfect outlet. I was able to make my own rules,” she explained.
She still recalls making her very first handbag. “It took over three hours, so that was a little intense. But I think we were both learning as we went, my grandmother and I. I was very happy with the outcome. I was able to sit back and say that I had made it.”
And within only a week of learning to sew she opened an Etsy shop with just three bags available “out of curiosity,” she said. “I didn’t think anything would come of it to be honest. Again, I started for fun. I had no idea that one day I’d be doing it full time. I mentioned it to my readers over on my blog at the time and they were interested in seeing more. That encouragement pushed me.”
Since then the company — and Elizabeth’s style — has steadily grown. “I look back at some of the pieces I have made when I first started and I realize how far I’ve come. I was terrified of making anything with a strap. I stepped out of my comfort zone and have since done bucket bags, totes and wristlets. I’ve got a leather backpack in the works. I try to create pieces that are anything but basic. I do have more simpler styles, but I like my pieces to be unique. Pieces you won’t find just anywhere.”
The hope, though, is that eventually you will be able to find these handbags everywhere. “In the next five years I would love to see Love, Cortnie in major retail stores across the country. So I have to start making my way to major trade shows soon,” shared Elizabeth who currently promotes Love, Cortnie through networking, email outreach, and social media accounts.
Initially the budding entrepreneur started making clutches out of personal need. “I originally wanted to learn how to make clutches because I could never find the ones I’d want when out shopping or online. They were always too small, all black and just plain boring. I’ve always had a thing for big bags, but big clutches were something I had a hard time finding. So I started making my own,” said Elizabeth, who was actually in between jobs when she started. “My grandmother would buy me my supplies and even gave me her sewing machine to get me started. Neither of us knew I’d still be doing it. She’s extremely proud. It eventually got to a point where I was making enough to buy my own supplies.”
Five years later, Elizabeth has now been running her business full time for almost two years, and she’s learned a learned a lesson or two along the way. “Patience and time management. Timing is everything. I never felt that I had to rush things or do something I didn’t necessarily need to be doing. Everything happens as it should. I work hard for what I do. I’m also responsible for my entire business. The buying, shipping, packaging, marketing and advertising, social media, customer service, etc. Being able to manage my time well is very important when it comes to getting things done.”
Today, her grandmother couldn’t be more pleased with the designing seed she planted in her granddaughter. “She is so happy. I don’t think anyone imagined that I’d be where I am today. It did start out as something I did just for fun. The best thing about it is that I still enjoy doing it.”