Jacki Easlick – Former Design Director, Kenneth Cole Productions and Vera Bradley.

Jacki Easlick – Former Design Director, Kenneth Cole Productions and Vera Bradley.

Tell our readers about yourself.

“Every handbag tells a story about the woman who carries it.” – Jacki Easlick

Jacki Easlick is the former Design Director for Kenneth Cole Productions and Vera Bradley.  Jacki has also designed handbags for respected brands including Tahari, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Henri Bendel’s illustrator Izak, Nine West, Steve Madden, Baggallini, NY&CO, Jones New York, Macy’s, Avon Mark, and Lily Jade.  Jacki has also designed for successful pop culture icons such as Hello Kitty, and the Kardashians.  In 2010 Jacki Easlick launched her own line of high quality, affordable luxury handbags. Jacki’s handbags are lovingly hand crafted by artisans in Manhattan, China, and Indonesia.  

In 2013 Jacki Easlick launched the Tote Hanger®. A simple, metal hook designed to hang and organize handbags and fashion accessories in your closet.  The Tote Hanger® is currently sold at The Container Stores, Lowe’s.com and Amazon.  Jacki owns the design patent and trademark.  www.ToteHanger.com 

From 2010 – 2018 Jacki was a speaker for Handbag Design at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian. She spoke to teens about handbags at the Teen Design Fair, hosted by Tim Gunn.  

According to you, how does a focus group identify brand and consumer needs?

For many women, purchasing a handbag is an addiction, a fixation, an indication of social status, a sign of hope, a fetish, or pleasure.  It’s equally as important to know what objects women are containing in their handbags versus what the exterior of the bag looks like.  I’ve attended focus group studies in Tokyo, Osaka, and New York to find out what types of handbags women love, and specifically what women carry in their handbag.  The research studies concluded that in Japan and in the United States, women carry the same objects in their handbags. 

The top 10 secret items most women carry in their handbag are: a wallet, a pen, keys, a cell phone, lipstick, tissues, sunglasses, coupons, hand lotion, and a nail file.

My guilty pleasure is…

I’ve spent the past 5 years studying Modern Psychoanalysis in Manhattan.  During this time I spent 17 months in a facility in New York observing mentally ill homeless people.  Handbags can be viewed psychoanalytically as maternal substitutes, or holding environments for the fractured or improvised self.  Perhaps there is a connection between the woman’s original holding environment as an infant and what she holds in her handbag as an adult.  As a Handbag Designer, I observed women and their relationship to their handbags and their mental illness. 

The schizophrenic woman’s handbag was completely empty inside.  The hoarder’s handbag consisted of receipts, old notes, used tissues, wrapped half chewed gum and old remnants of items that would be considered garbage by others.  These items should be discarded but instead they represented sentimental objects with memories attached to this woman.  The women who had addictions carried food or alcohol in their handbags.  There is a difference between women who carry bags for status and those who carry all their personal belongings in bags.  The difference is extreme poverty, mental illness and isolation.  While most of us have closets and storage containers for our personal belongings, the homeless have only their shopping bags.  Everything they own travels with them.

Handbags hold secrets, perhaps the hidden parts of ourselves, and maybe that’s why they are called baggage.

The one electronic I couldn’t go a day without is…

My iPhone. 

Who inspires you and why?

Women entrepreneurs traditionally face systematic discrimination when looking for venture capital or traditional lending.  I’m very supportive of women in business and also women who start their own charities to help other women in need.

Over the course of the past 8 years Jacki Easlick LLC has partnered with over 750 charities throughout the United States to help raise money through selling my handbags. “If women have a roof over their heads and a home free of violence, good and afford health care, then so do their children. Women describe their giving as an emotional obligation to help those with less. Women helping fund other women through the power of the handbag.” 

What do you do to relax?

Self care if very important. I go to the spa and get a manicure, pedicure, facial or massage.

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