I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelli Turner of Kelli Diane Designs. If you’ve ever considered designing purses, Kelli’s story will likely inspire you.
Lori Soard: Kelli, you actually disliked handbags as a child. Can you share that story with our readers?
Kelli Turner: Yes, when I was a little girl, my mom would always try and have me carry a purse. I really disliked purses and did not want anything to do with them. I didn’t want to carry one at all.
Lori: When did you finally get interested in purses?
Kelli: I finally got into purses when I was about 21. One of my best friends was really into purses and then I started liking them. I would go to downtown LA and buy a purse almost every weekend. It got to the point where my mom told me I could not bring another purse into her house. I would even hide the purses that I bought so that my parents would not know I had brought another purse into their house. However, I was a young student and couldn’t afford expensive purses and that is why I would go downtown and sometimes get 3 purses for $10.00. To a college student that is a great deal. That is actually a good deal for anyone these days! However, they were not good quality purses and after awhile some of them fell apart.
Becoming a Designer
Lori: How did that love of purses translate into designing purses?
Kelli: Since I love purses so much, I thought, “Why don’t I start designing my own purses.” I always gave purses to my friends and family as gifts. I figured why not give them a purse that I designed.
Lori: Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
Kelli: I get inspiration for my designs from my family and friends, and that is why all of my purses are named after them. My first design was the Diane Satchel which was named after my mother.
Lori: What kinds of materials do you use and why those materials? I notice you use a lot of leather, but unusual colors. How do you decide what colors to use?
Kelli: All of my purses are made out of leather, but the unique thing about my purses is that the interior will never be the same. When you open the purse, you don’t know what you are going to get.
Starting a Design Business
Lori: You’re the designer and you started your business from scratch and built it. What was the most challenging part of this process?
Kelli: The most challenging part of this process was finding a manufacturer. It took me over a year to find one. I searched overseas, New York, etc. and finally found one right here in CA.
Lori: You do custom designs for bridal parties. Can you share a little more about this for any bride-to-be that might be reading this?
Kelli: Yes, one of my friends was having a wedding in Greece so I came up with the idea to make clutches that were white leather and the interior was the Grecian blue and white. Each bridesmaid received a clutch and wore it the day of the wedding. After that, I decided that I would do customized clutches for bridal parties.
Lori: Do you worry about the current fashion trends or just create what you know you’d love?
Kelli: I do a little bit of both. I study the fashion trends and then like to put my own twist on it. I see what colors are in and then I go from there. I pick designs and colors that I like and ones that I know others will like. I don’t want to be exactly the same as other designers out there so I like to add a unique color and interior.
Lori: How many new designs do you release each season? What can we expect for fall/winter 2011?
Kelli: I usually try to release two designs each season. This fall/winter I am going to bring back a couple of my customer’s favorite clutches and men’s wallets, and a nice tote bag.
Lori: Are any celebrities carrying your purses? Who?
Kelli: Yes, there are a few celebrities that have my bags. Loretta Devine, Kelly Price, Shanice and her mother, Naturi Naughton, Dena Cali, Desiree Coleman Jackson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jody Watley, and a few more.
Lori: What purse are you carrying right now? Which is your favorite?
Kelli: Right now I am carrying the Diane Satchel in Red. I always carry one of my clutches coin purse and wristlet. My favorite design is my clutches, because I can carry them everywhere and they fit all the necessities: ATM card, Driver’s license, lip gloss, camera, cell phone, keys and much more. I also like that I am not lugging a huge purse around when running errands or a night out on the town.
Lori: A portion of your proceeds go to the Foundation for Living Beauty. Why are you passionate about helping this particular organization?
Kelli: My Mother is a cancer survivor and I have many family members and friends that are cancer survivors and a few close ones that have passed away. Kelli Diane Designs donates a percentage of our proceeds to The Foundation for Living Beauty. This foundation helps women living with cancer and cancer survivors deal with the daily stresses of their condition. Each clutch comes with a purse charm of the pink Breast Cancer Ribbon. This clutch is made of soft high quality leather and fits money, credit cards, cell phone, keys and more. It is easy to carry around all day and night and won’t weigh you down when on the go! This clutch is named after one of my mother’s best friends who passed away from breast cancer and her daughter who is a breast cancer survivor
Lori: Anything you’d like to add?
Kelli: I love designing purses; it is my passion and my dream. I believe that in life everything happens for a reason and that people were put into your life for a reason, season or lifetime. It is your job to figure it out. No matter how many people discourage you, or don’t believe in your dream keeping pursuing it. It is your dream, not theirs, and you are the only one that can make your dream a reality.