Nichole MacDonald’s shoulder bag is the nomad woman’s favorite accessory


The design was born in Legoland. Perhaps not a place known to inspire women’s fashion, the amusement park in Southern California was nonetheless where Nichole MacDonald found herself fumbling with the purse she had tried (and failed) with. to start a business. It was too bulky for walks, too cavernous for small necessities, and her son impatiently tugged at her sleeve as she tried to balance the weight of the purse against her shoulder. Cue a mental collapse, and the thought occurred: Wouldn’t it be nice if she had more pockets? Just, like, endless pockets? Pockets for everything. A good old-fashioned Batman utility belt for the active woman?

She returned home and, with the help of a friend who wields a sewing machine, designed the first prototype of what is now the Sash Bag, a popular utility handbag that bridges the gap between a satchel and a belt. Equipped with a total of 10 pockets evenly distributed along the entire length of the bag, there is little to no weight. The handbag evokes the casual style of a nomad: it’s just as natural on Geena Davis’ shoulder as it is on a cosplayer posing as Jack Sparrow.

MacDonald officially launched Sash Bags in 2012, and since then the company has generated over $ 14 million in revenue and built a community of dedicated fans. Most of the bags, which come in a variety of shades and styles – fringed, fringless, snakeskin, marbled – are made from genuine leather, a silky lambskin from India that is strong yet lightweight. . Prices range from $ 150 to $ 190 for the leather belt, with “junior” bags designed for youth available starting at $ 50.

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nichole macdonald and the shoulder bag fans

Monique Hoppe

For MacDonald, the bag’s popularity among a particular demographic of women – those in the “third stage of life,” after college and / or childbearing and ready for the future – speaks volumes for its own. attraction to reinvention. Sash Bags was launched in the aftermath of its first business failure; the second enterprise could have been synonymous with disaster.

“When I started my first business, I really focused on the wrong things,” she says. “I was really focused on wanting it to look really good and making myself look professional. Because I grew up on welfare. No one has ever taught me how to manage money; I was never encouraged to start a business or even find a job. I was encouraged to become a mom. I had no idea what I was doing. And I collapsed, and hard enough, this business took me with it. So when Legoland’s crisis caused her to sit down with another prototype bag, she almost didn’t feel confident enough to complete her design.

“What I did differently the second time around was I didn’t care how things looked or what people thought. It was more about being really genuine and vulnerable, ”she says.

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The idea was to make the Sash Bag more about function than form. It would be a purse that you never really meant to take off – it hugs the body whether you’re in the car, on the flight, or, well, in the toilet. The Hybrid Satchel is a completely hands-free carrying device for the many products a woman is, for better or worse, expected to have on hand. There are pockets for passports, lip gloss, keys, phones, hand sanitizer, Airpods, feminine hygiene products, cash, cards, snacks, and sunglasses, but due to the flaunt style, MacDonald says the customers often forget that they even carry the bag. And such a “liberation” – that’s the word MacDonald uses – turned the Sash Bag fandom into a real community, rich in Facebook meetups and live video sales popular enough for MacDonald to host them once a week, every week.

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Today, Hoda and Kathy Lee are fans. Brian Smith of UGG Australia is a shareholder. RHOBH star Garcelle Beauvais has a belt. In an accessory market that is expected to grow along with the increase in the percentage of women in the US workforce, the success of the Sash bag is a clear indication that fashion doesn’t have to be freakish to be created. a clientele.

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