meet catherine meyer

October 08, 2011  |   column: WHAT'S NEW

to show our support for rising stars in the accessories world, ksny creative director deborah lloyd, who was honored with the iconoclast award at the 4th annual independent handbag designer awards last year, gave the event’s big winner a rare opportunity to collaborate on a special-edition piece for kate spade new york. enter catherine meyer of follis, an under-the-radar line of lush leather handbags based in nyc, who beat over 900 applicants to snag the title for best in overall style and design with her laced julia bag. though meyer has been designing for nearly a decade, now is the time for the f.i.t. alum to really shine, thanks to last year’s idha win, some love from saks fifth avenue, a bit of attention in instyle magazine and the debut of her ksny handbag, the iconoclast, launching today. meet the designer and go behind the seams of her award-worthy carryall.

who: catherine meyer, indie bag designer

company: follis (latin for “leather handbag”)

where: new york city

q: let’s talk about the iconoclast bag—what was your inspiration?

a: the idea behind it was to combine the polish of kate spade new york’s aesthetic with the functionality and edge of follis. on the body of the bag, you’ll notice i mixed lacing (a follis signature) with iconic kate spade new york details, such as a softly-gathered bow and 14kt gold-plated hardware. it’s a perfect combination of practicality and fun.

q: what makes it stand out?

a: it’s a unique shape with two separate compartments to help keep things organized. i love the size—it’s big enough for documents, making it a perfect choice for the woman who works.

q: any memorable moments while designing it?

a: in my initial meeting with deborah and the team, i don’t think anyone had a real, clear vision of exactly what the collaboration would be or how we’d make it work. so there i was sitting in a meeting with the design head and all these other high-level designers at the company. deboarh ran through the design direction then finished and everyone turned to me, expectantly. thank goodness i had thought up a concept of combining the lacing with the bows—it gave a little direction to the project, and i felt the room relax immediately.

q: why do you think it’s important to support up-and-coming designers?

a: well, i think collaborations like this bring a fresh point of view to an established brand. the ever-evolving world of fashion, particularly in new york, is a small intermingling community where today’s emerging designers will be tomorrow’s big brand names or creative directors.

q: what was it like launching follis before you won the idha?

a: first and foremost, i’m crazy about design. launching follis was a chance to design a new look, born of my own imagination and sewing mock-ups on my bedroom floor. creating prototypes was only the beginning. as interest in the collection grew, i was immersed in the challenges of running a start-up, like getting production quantities up to lower costs and adding retailers. of course, securing meetings with stores became a whole lot easier post-win!

q: how else has winning the idha changed your business?

a: it’s brought so much opportunity—not only have i had the chance to collaborate on this project with kate spade new york, but my bags were carried at the saks fifth avenue flagship in nyc. they also appeared on the pages of instyle magazine… i was actually in las vegas at a trade show when the issue hit newsstands, and loaded my suitcase with extra copies!

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