Longhorn Collection Handbags

Cowhide lovers, we've got a treat for you today.  Today's featured collection comes from JulieBeth Handbags, a Texas-based designer based in Houston.  Owner Beth Younger Purpich was inspired by the legacy of her family's cattle ranch for her 2015 Rodeo Collection designs, with the "Longhorn" bag as the key piece.  This year, the ranch is celebrating its 100th year in the family as a cow/calf operation, so Beth paid tribute to the iconic longhorn silhouette in these beautiful, handmade pieces, teaming with Rhed Lucy Jewelry designer Julie D. Stevenson to collaborate on gorgeous leather and hide combinations.

The result is a truly unique, one-of-a-kind, statement piece of a bag.  These spacious totes are perfect for nights out on the town, as stylish rodeo accessory, and make perfect laptop carriers.  Whatever they're used for, the Longhorn Collection bags are sure to turn heads.  The craftsmanship is impeccable.  Each member of the team of artisans boasts more than 25 years of experience in leather crafting, and each handbag is cut by hand and stitched with precision. 

Beth explains the steps involved in creating each handbag: "The process for making a Longhorn bag starts from the inside out.  We cut the lining, fillers, and reinforcements for the bag, which will give the bag its structure.  Next, the leather is cut, followed by the hide.  We pay special attention to cutting the hide and selecting a great pattern for the bag, assuring that no two bags are ever the same.  We love this aspect and so do our customers.  Once all the cutting has been completed, we begin the assembling, stitching and hardware additions.  The very last step is placing the horns on the bag, which serve as the handles."

Julie, Beth's business partner, also owns Rhed Lucy, a high-end Western jewelry business where she creates custom pieces and also wholesales to boutiques around Texas.  Each of her pieces is made by hand - she uses no casts or molds when building these beautiful sterling silver, turquoise, and native stone works of art.

To see more of the Longhorn Collection and order a custom cowhide bag, visit their website.  Julie and Beth have offered The Big and Bright readers free shipping on any handbag order using the code BRIGHT.  For inquiries about carrying the JulieBeth and Rhed Lucy lines in your store, contact Julie here.

Clothes shown with the Rhed Lucy jewelry are from the Double D Ranchwear Spring/Summer 2015 Collection.

Favorite Texas Tees

Texas Roots | Roadtrip Texas | Texas Towns | Texas Tumbleweed/Rivers

Of all the tees we've seen that show our pride for the Lone Star State - these are by far the coolest.  I mean, how genius are these designs?  Each one was created here in Texas and printed on super soft cotton blends for a vintage look and worn-in feel.  The Texas Roots shirt is a design by a Texan graphic designer and is on sale via The Cotton Bureau's limited edition tees.  This one's only available until April 7th, so get yours quick!  The other designs are by Tumbleweed Texstyles, a homegrown apparel company run by two Frisco, Texas high school teachers with passions for travel, art, design, and of course, their home state. 

I'd rather not choose just one, but if I HAD to - I think I'd go with the tumbleweed/river design.  As a current west Texas resident (i.e.: frequent tumbleweed encounters) who grew up floating the Frio and wakeboarding the Highland Lakes of the Colorado every summer, this one just speaks to me!  

Here's a close-up of the Texas towns design.  There are 187 towns included - can you spot yours?

HD West Custom Painted Leather Goods

When artist Amanda Richardson opened an Etsy shop at age 18, her hand-painted leather accessories drew lots of attention, but none to the effect of her first pair of custom painted boots.  Inundated with requests, Amanda now takes custom boot orders one at a time through her new business, HD West.  It's almost like Richardson is giving each pair of boots a tattoo - telling a story unique to the one who wears them, transforming the leather into a canvas through color and design.   These incredible works of art leave us pretty speechless, so we'll just let the pictures do the talking...

Spring Style: Neutral Handbags

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Spring is always when I really start to reorganize, which includes cleaning out my purse - which then leads to dreaming about a new one.  I've rounded up a few of my favorite neutrals from Spring 2015 collections and here's a spoiler: I'm obsessed with Consuela's.  They hit it out of the park this spring with their luxurious white St. Tropez collection (1 & 5) and that beautiful gator (16).  Also introducing gorgeous new collections is Barrington (12 & 13) with their Axis and Navajo Mesa prints.  And yes, Navajo is a neutral as far as I'm concerned.  Barrington bags can have that little leather square on the front monogrammed and are really great quality (note: the Axis bag is not real hide, it's a very realistic water-resistant nylon print).  Not to mention, both Consuela and Barrington are Texas-based companies - Austin and Dallas!  Throw in more gorgeous leather from Frye (#9) and some fun fringe from Steve Madden (#15) and you've got some great choices that will be the perfect addition to any outfit throughout the year.

Young and Wild(ly Successful): The Lace Cactus

Kelsey Johnson is a 23-year-old entrepreneur from Hico, Texas, who went to work on some big dreams just a short year and a half ago.  With no college degree, no business loan to help get her started, and two kids at home with a husband on the road, Kelsey started out hand-making furniture before transitioning to selling clothes and accessories via Facebook, and what a wild ride it's been.  Two hundred thousand Facebook fans later, she's selling out of her items minutes after they're posted, is in the Top 10 in the nation for monthly revenue of postal output, and has been able to purchase the downtown Hico storefront that The Lace Cactus calls home.  While The Lace Cactus may seem like an almost overnight success, don't be fooled.  What started out as a childhood dream of owning a business (and a passion for dressing well no matter the budget) has turned into a bustling business owned and operated by a kind and determined young woman, wise beyond her years, who is proof that age knows no bounds when it comes to success.

TB&B:  How do you set The Lace Cactus apart from other boutiques?

KJ:  I really don't follow hardly anyone, whether it's on Pinterest, or Facebook or what not - for one, I just don't have the time, but I don't want to look at what a bunch of other boutiques are doing because I feel like that would take away from what we're doing.  I just go with my instincts and I buy what I would put in my own closet.   I go with things that I know I can sell at an affordable price point.  I love bright colors - stuff that's wild and different - if I feel confident in it, and I'd buy it for myself, then I'll buy it for the store.  You just have to trust your own instincts and not worry about what other people are doing.

TB&B:  How did you decide on your Facebook "flash sale" strategy?  It's obviously working and is at the core of your business's success, but why didn't you start with traditional online sales?

KJ:  Well before we started selling clothes, I made everything I sold.  I put some stuff on Facebook and before I knew it, I had 1,000 followers and I thought, "This can't get any better." (Ha!) I had more orders than I could keep up with.  When we expanded to clothes, I just stuck with what was working.  I think more so than what we're selling, it's about the way that we talk and interact with our customers.  I've always been honest with them, if I make a mistake I own up to it, and Facebook allows me to put myself out there to where they feel like they know me and that they're a friend.  Which they are!  I've gotten to know so many customers through Facebook.  I know their style, what they like, and when they come into the store I can talk to them like I've known them forever.  I just want people to feel like they're buying from a friend.

TB&B:  What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?

KJ:  I started this business from nothing and I was able to accomplish so much more than I ever dreamed of - when we started growing so much, I was able to provide a job for my mother, my aunt, my grandma, and my sister.  My husband used to be on the road for work all the time and at one point he was only getting to spend four days home out of the month. With The Lace Cactus growing like it was, and us having two young kids, it just made sense for him to get in on it with me.  So now he helps with the office side of things and he doesn't have to be on the road anymore.  I'm so thankful that now we get that time to spend with our kids.  Bringing my husband home and providing a job for so many of my family members - I'm really proud of that more than anything.

TB&B: What's one thing you wish someone had told you before you started this business? 

KJ:  Be prepared to spend a LOT of time making it work.  A lot of people think you just snap your fingers and order clothes and sell them, and it doesn't work like that.  It doesn't fall into your lap.  I don't get to sleep as much as I'd like to, I work a lot of late nights, and to this day I still haven't found that perfect balance between work and family time and personal time.  It's a hard thing.  It's worth it, but it's going to consume a lot of your time.

TB&B: What do you hope your children learn from you as they watch you grow this business to be even more successful?

KJ: It's all I ever dreamed of - owning my own business - but when I was younger, I didn't have the confidence to even think I could.  I finally made up my mind and just said "Let's go for it" one day and I put my heart and soul into it.  I just want them to know that you can do whatever you want - whatever it is - if you pray about it a lot and WORK.  It doesn't matter what you have.  The money doesn't matter - I didn't have any - you can still achieve whatever it is you want to do.  I just hope they have the confidence to go after what they want.

Speaking with Kelsey was such a treat.  She's so down-to-earth, so humble, and what she said about treating customers like a friend is absolutely true - I felt like I'd known her forever after just one conversation.  Kelsey and The Lace Cactus are a testament to the products of a strong work ethic and determination, no matter where you come from or what you've had to work with.  If I took anything away from our chat and seeing how quickly The Lace Cactus has bloomed, it's that dreams don't work unless you do!

You can shop The Lace Cactus online on their brand new website, or follow them on Facebook to stay in the loop on new arrivals. Special thanks to Cassidy Uptergrove Photography in Hico for graciously sharing her photos.