Sitting down at her Brother Sewing Machine, Lisa Suphan lets her “creative urge” propel her toward making something both fashionable, and horsey.
Admitting she has zero background in fashion, but a deep tie to horses, Suphan plans to launch an E-Com site next month, featuring many one-of-a-kind and (some washable!) horse-themed pocketbooks.
In this week’s Clubhouse Q&A, Suphan talks about her inspiration to build a better handbag, one that can take a beating at the barn, and still look good in all occasions.
Q: Lisa, when and how did you start your own company specializingin horse-accented handbags?
Very recently! In December I started getting together some materials that I liked and thought would make nice bags. From there I jumped onto Facebook to start to get the word out. I’m hoping to be ready to open up “shop” on Esty.com sometime in February. For now, I am pretty immersed in running a benefit auction for Transitions Thoroughbreds, so the shop is on the back burner at least until the auction ends.
Q: What fashion niche do you envision for these bags? Are they everyday, take-to-the-barn garments, aimed specifically at the horse world, or do you see a wider appeal in the general fashion scene?
I see them as anytime, anywhere bags. I take everything to the barn, and I like items that can withstand being taken there, and everywhere else.
The bags are also extremely durable, and many of the materials are even machine washable.
Because I am a horse person, I am mainly focusing on the horse world— that is what I know. Eventually I’d like to design bags that reflect the different disciplines; now that would be fun!
I also think that the bags are more appealing to equestrians, not only because of the theme, but because a portion of any 2013 proceeds will go to [ReRun, Inc.] I think equestrians are more driven to help the horse causes than people who just love all animals.
Q: Please describe the process that goes in to making a bag. Where are they crafted? Do you design them yourself? How long does a bag take to go from idea to fruition?
Yes, I do design them myself.
I work on them at home with my little, non-digital (I know— gasp!) Brother Sewing Machine.
They are very easy little bags to make so it doesn’t take me long to go from concept to finished product, plus, once I have an idea in my head, I am driven to work on it until I have a finished product.
Otherwise it will play around in my brain, interfering with everything!
I believe they call it the “creative urge.”
My inspiration can come from some random thing I see in a craft store, or emerge from something in my home that I haven’t yet found a use for.
I love to repurpose things! I’m one of those people who can’t stand letting anything go to waste.
The interiors of the bags, which also have a horsey theme, sometimes start the creative process for me. I’ll find the interior material first, and build the rest of the bag from the inspiration that I feel.
Q: Could you please tell me a little bit about your background with horses and with fashion?
I have no background in fashion, but, I love to sew and, as I mentioned, I always have the urge to do something creative.
What attracts me to working with and creating handbags is that they can each be one-of-a-kind; because I can alter them anyway I want.
They beg to be anything but “cookie cutter” items!
I made my first bag last year as a fundraising item for a therapeutic riding program.
The goal was to produce something that any horse lover, of any age and ability, might want.
The bag turned out to be so popular that I thought I would try my hand at others.
As for the horses, I started taking Sunday riding lessons years ago, when I lived on Long Island, and later, when my family and I moved to Vermont, I leased a pony for the summer.
Shortly after, my parents bought me my first horse, Bitsa. She was a grade Quarter Horse in rough shape.
One look at her and I couldn’t say no, so my parents bought her.
We were together until we were both 21, and she passed away.
Bitsa, of course, like so many rescues, was wonderful and we did everything from 4H to 100 Mile Trail Rides. Bitsa always took care of me, no matter what we did.
In college I rode hunters, and after graduation I started training for low- level eventing, but I gave it up because of the cost.
I didn’t ride for a long time. But, about 10 years ago, I started riding Thoroughbreds.
When I purchased my latest horse, Duncan, my hope was to fulfill my dream of returning to the hunter ring. However, after a few years of owning him, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his hocks as well as kissing spine in his lower back.
While both are manageable, they are issues that could keep him from jumping comfortably, especially for long periods like at a show.
So, on the advice of my trainer (who just happens to be a Grand Prix dressage rider) and vet, we took up dressage.
I purchased a dressage saddle last year and since then we’ve been hooked and are hoping to attend at least a couple of the Thoroughbred only horse shows this year.
And maybe we’ll sell some bags, too!