Portage Embellished Handbags are designed and handcrafted by Valerie N. Jones in Dayton, Ohio.

Valerie's story:

From shoe bags to handbags...

More than ten years ago, my BFF Stephanie and I started offering personalized embroidered shoe bags to close friends and members of an organization we belong to in order to participate in the entrepreneurial program. Stephanie came up with the idea, I had the sewing skills and a computerized embroidery/sewing machine so together we came up with a product to sell - personalized embroidery bags that had inspirational sayings, embroidered high heeled shoes, and anything else they could think of. The bags were popular, especially for personalized gifts.

My mother used to tell me that she believed one day I would have my own boutique. I thought that would be great too and had actually dreamed about becoming a fashion designer.  However, I never pursued it because I didn't believe I had artist skill to do so. Not to mention that although I loved fashion and loved to sew, my academic and career choices were a far cry from the fashion business.

Many years ago, Stephanie brought an embellished purse to an event. It caught my eye - it had everything on it - beads, ribbons, embroidery, feathers, you name it, but it was tastefully done AND just looked fun to carry. With my imagined creativity and ego, I asked to borrow it and set out to create what is now my signature handbag style by mixing various neutral fabrics and textures, embellishing it with beaded fringe, metallic leather, and a brooch my mother gave me decades ago. I treasure it for the sentimental value.

Now, for almost 10 years, with the continued support of my friends, who encouraged me to pursue the handbag business, my 'sisters' from the organizations I belong to, and many others, I am able to grow my business that specializes in embellished handbags and totes called PORTAGE Embellished Handbags.

I am also the co-founder of LUXE Gives Back, Inc., a one-of-a-kind company producing fundraising events featuring exciting independent fashion and accessories designers. LUXE Gives Back is committed to creating an indie designer community who share our mission; giving back, designing unique quality merchandise, and sharing the story of our incredible non-profit partners. Then we bring it all together at an event that is energetic, entertaining, and empowering. For more information and for a free subscription to our LUXE digital magazine go to LUXEGivesBack.com.