There aren’t many people that can genuinely say that they do what they love every day at work. Alice Huang is one of the very few people who are lucky enough to have started a very successful business of her own. Alice created a very unique line of handbags, Mei Vintage, where she takes old items of clothing and designs and puts them together to make some of the most beautiful handbags ever seen. We had the chance to speak with Alice and get into the brain behind the brand.
What inspired you to start a unique business, such as this?
The Mei Vintage handbag line was created from my own obsession with vintage textiles, particularly vintage kimonos. I started collecting Kimonos while I was living in Hawaii. I was invited to a traditional Japanese festival called “Bon Dance” and was immediately mesmerized when I saw the bold and intricate patterns on those beautiful kimonos.
Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I began sewing as a creative outlet. I decided to use what I had in the house to create a handbag for myself to use. Incorporating the vintage kimonos that I had collected and taking apart a retired leather jacket that I found in my mom’s closet, I created something that turned out surprising beautiful! It was a moment of transformation! I was so excited to see that I could turn something that was old and ugly into something new, beautiful and useful again. Hence, Mei Vintage was born. The word “Mei” means beautiful in Chinese.
How do you go about designing a bag, is there some sort of process that you go through to figure out just what looks right?
Vintage Kimono print is my main source of inspiration. I typically choose the kimono print first, then I select the color and leather texture that will be used on my collection. I also seek old photographs for inspiration and spend time at the beach to sketch out designs for my next collection. I am very lucky to be living in Los Angeles where I can source all my materials within the Fashion district. I typically go to at least 5-6 different places to get all my materials before production can begin.
If you had to pick one, which is your favorite bag in your collection?
My favorite bag would be the “origami clutch” as it was inspired by the art of origami paper folding. This clutch is definitely a statement piece. It’s unique in shape and yet it’s so easy to accessorize. It’s such a versatile bag! It can go from casual to dressy.
How do you feel about your work, in general?
I wake up each morning feeling so blessed that I am doing what I love! It took a lot of time, money, and energy to develop a sustainable handbag line and see my collection come to life. I am slowly discovering a fan base and it’s such a wonderful feeling when strangers come up to me and tell me how much they love my handbags. It makes all the design and production nightmares that most people don’t hear about all worth it.
If you had to give advice to somebody that was trying to start a unique business, such as yours, what would you tell them?
Start small and dream big! It’s important to surround yourself with likeminded people that have the passion, the vision and the positive attitude to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit! Also, be around people that want to see you succeed in your business. Finally, be open to your environment. There’s so much inspiration around you!
Click for more on Mei Vintage.
Photo Credit: Hillary Cramer
- Arielle Ozery