A few weeks ago I did a post on my new favorite handbag designer, Aimee Kestenberg! The crossbody I have from her is versatile, stylish, and great quality. I reached out to her team and was able to ask her Aimee a few questions about her journey to getting her brand into major retailers and what she plans for the future of her brand.
THE FASHION NEWCOMER: When did you know you wanted to design handbags? Was it something you had set out to do from a young age?
AIMEE KESTENBERG: I have been designing since before I even knew what designing was. My grandmother was a seamstress and both my grandfathers were jewelers and I grew up making jewelry, painting and sewing my own garments and accessories. I never knew I wanted to design handbags specifically, but after graduating in industrial design and fashion design I found the the perfect was to incorporate the two things I love most (accessories & 3d product design) was to focus on handbags, footwear and jewelry. This allowed me to use all the skills I had learned and specialized in, as well as being creative and driven everyday. I began to love accessory design so much and today I would say I live and breathe it.
TFN: How did you get started in terms of establishing your brand and expanding it?
AK: It took a lot of hard work. I worked everyday, 7 days a week, 17-18hrs a day doing everything humanly possible to try and perfect my first collection, get it made, get in contact with buyers, and convince them to give me a chance and to come take a look at my collection. Everyone was skeptical at the beginning as most people didn’t want to take the risk on a new designer and a new brand at a time where the economy was struggling and felt the need to “play it safe”. It took persistence, drive, and passion to keep trying and keep pushing for that chance. After the first orders started to sell out in rapid time, Slowly but surely one by one my brand was picked up by boutiques and department stores across America and now the world.
TFN: Getting into Nordstrom, Macys, and Kitson (among other stores) is absolutely amazing. Do you have plans to bring the Aimee Kestenberg brand to other major retailers?
AK: We have been picked up in the last 3 months by Lord & Taylor, Saks, Anthropologie, Free People, and Dolce Vita. We are launching into high end department stores this year in Australia, United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico, Ireland, Canada Hong Kong and many other countries.
TFN: What advice do you have for girls who aspire to go into fashion design?
AK: Get as much experience as possible. Intern for brands and people you respect in all areas of fashion. Not just design, because having your own brand means being a master of all trades, not just design. Keep an open mind and remember that some of the most grueling of experiences are the ones that make you the best you can be. There was one job I had where I was so miserable because I was treated so badly and was constantly bullied by my manager but looking back, this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Not only did it fuel my fire to succeed and never give it, but it taught me what not to do when I managed people and how it to be a strong manager and inspire people.
TFN: Will the Aimee Kestenberg brand being branching out to clothing and other accessories?
TFN: What inspires your designs?
AK: No one thing in particular. Every day is a new adventure for me and I generally take my inspiration from my travels, things I see, people I meet and design each season based on what I am inspired by at the time. I of course add the Aimee spin of function and rock star attitude to all my bags too!
TFN: If you could only shop three brands for the rest of your life (besides your own) what would they be?
AK: Zara, Tom Ford, and Roberto Cavalli.
Here is a picture of Aimee working in the factory making wax molds of her hardware:
Special thanks to Aimee and her team for taking time out of their busy work days to help me out! Make sure to check out Aimee’s website – www.aimeekestenberg.com.