a personal blog by erin whitlock brown

3.04.2013

Shopsmart Spotlight: Bella Bag Designer Handbag Consignment

Bella Bag owner Cassandra Connors. Photo via AtlantaMagazine.com
Owning a designer handbag is arguably one of the first "to-dos" on every budding fashionista's checklist. Although, not always an easily attainable goal, it surely is the one thing that will cause even the most social of butterflies to skip a few girls' nights out to save up for the latest investment piece.

Enter Bella Bag: an online boutique featuring an awe-inspiring selection of authentic pre-loved designer handbags. I met owner, Cassandra Connors, over the holidays when I stepped into her Atlanta showroom, and boy was I amazed! Imagine a space with floor-to-ceiling shelving filled with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Dior and a covetable collection of brightly colored Hermes Birkin bags (stored carefully out of reach on the highest rungs, natch), all priced to move. 


Truly impressed with the quality and selection in-studio, I asked to sit down with the fab handbag-ista (and savvy businesswoman and new mom!) to learn more about her booming business, how to select the best bag for your lifestyle, and #shopsmart tips for purchasing authentic luxury consignment. Read on!

How did you get started with luxury handbag consignment and eCommerce?
I was a broke college student who had spent too much money on designer clothes and bags. I used my college campus's Intranet to post them for sale so I could pay for things like groceries and winter boots in NYC.  When they sold, I started thinking that maybe my friends would benefit from a leaner closet too. It kind of spiraled from there.  

Once eBay was popular, I created an eBay Storefront and scoured thrift stores for unique gems that other people would want to buy.  I've always had a great eye for fashion and style, and eventually realized that the biggest problem in shopping eCommerce was two-fold:  (1) the selection was terrible and (2) guaranteeing authenticity.  I had been scammed on eBay previously and it was important to me that women be able to have a place to shop where they felt completely trusting of the sourcing and authenticity piece.  I wanted women to feel beautiful  when they slung that bag over their shoulder each morning, and confident that they were carrying something genuine too.

Which are your most requested pieces?
Louis Vuitton staples like the Speedy or Neverfull and Chanel classics. . . black flap bags.

Which designer is your favorite?
I love Chanel. It's super classic and I feel it goes day to night like no other brand can.  I'm not a huge fan of switching out my bag or wallet, so I like something versatile.
Right now I'm carrying the Ultimate Soft Flap Hobo from Chanel, and inside my bag is the YSL Belle Du Jour Zip Around Wallet.





I love my wallet. It's versatile and I can carry it as a clutch as night also. I'm also using the Goyard St. Louis GM as my baby bag.  I love the durability, and also that it's somewhat more rare. You don't see it on everyone, you know?  




If you had to select a bag to fit these personality types, what would they be?

The Sophisticate
definitely a Chanel Classic Small Flap in Lambskin leather..shown here on Stacy Keibler with George Clooney.  Love the look.



The Party Girl
Something fun, like an Alexander McQueen Union Jack Clutch...shown here on Eve.



The Career Woman
Something big enough for a laptop, but stylish enough for a dinner party.  I'm thinking an Hermes Birkin, like the one Ellen Barkin is carrying here.




The Socialite
Definitely Louis Vuitton Monogram!  And lots of it. Paris Hilton is over the top here!



The Princess
A princess should be classic, chic and simple.  Kate Middleton has carried Prada throughout much of the past year. I think its a beautiful, understated choice.  No need for her to be flashy.




The First Timer
Go for a less expensive option!  Make sure you love how you feel when you are wearing it...pick something fun but dip your toes into the designer bag world slowly.  I'd choose something like the Alexander Wang Rocco bag...shown here on Dakota Fanning. 



Are you ever sad to see a bag leave the showroom?
I'm always sad!  They are my little babies!  But its bittersweet.  I love having women walk out happy and even more in love with the piece than I was.  We get so many new arrivals (150-200 each week), that is also very fun to see them turn over.
How should one protect and care for her Bella Bag investment?
There are many ways to care for your designer bag...but honestly, I think the best way is to take it directly to the source.  The women who work at Hermes, Chanel in Neiman Marcus and the Louis Vuitton boutiques here in Atlanta are amazing.  They will help you send out a handbag to have it professionally cleaned or re-touched.  On a daily basis, store your purchase in it's dustbag or the soft Bella Bag re-usable shopping tote that we provide with purchase at the store.
We're dying to know what items do you keep in your bag at all times?
YSL Lipgloss and YSL Touche Eclat Highlighter No. 2 (makeup must haves!), my YSL Zip Around Wallet, a Platinum Amex, my Iphone, and a picture of my family.


An suggestions or sage advice for women looking to purchase designer resale?
ShopBellaBag.com!  Ha!  No, seriously, I would say just be careful. There are tons of resale companies out there that are sort of just stepping into this business now, because its getting a bit hot. That doesn't mean they have the expertise to authenticate, or the desire to please their customer base at all times.  We've been doing this for nearly 10 years now, and we aren't in this business as a flash in the pan. I plan for Bella Bag to be here 20 years from now too.


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If you're in the Atlanta area, visit the Bella Bag Showroom in Buckhead at 650 Miami Circle, Atlanta, GA 30324. Or, visit online at www.ShopBellaBag.com

-EWB 

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