Questions Answered: Shana Luther of Shana Luther Handbags

{Shana Luther pictured right with the William Tote}Handbags are essential to a woman's wardrobe and as designer Shana Luther puts it, "If you have to carry one, why not make it an awesome design?" Her passion for designing fashion accessories began the moment she looped her first piece of thread through a needle. Years later upon graduating from Pratt Institute in 2000 she founded SML (her initials), a small company specializing in handmade leather and fabric handbags. Until 2012 Shana meticulously sketched and sewed each one of her designs by hand out of her Brooklyn studio. The recent expansion of her line into Shana Luther Handbags brought with it additional manufacturing capabilities, which Shana was adamant about keeping domestic. All of her materials are locally sourced and all of the manufacturers she uses are based in the US. Her commitment to American-made even garnered the attention of one very high-profile American-made enthusiast, Martha Stewart, who chose Shana's line as a finalist in the 2012 Martha Stewart American Made Awards.Name: Shana Luther Hometown: Pennsylvania Moved to Brooklyn in: Fall of 1995 Job title: Owner and designer of Shana Luther Handbags Established in: 2012 My design career began… when I was walking down the street one day and I noticed a great handbag in a little boutique here in Brooklyn. Having always been interested in handbags, I was incredibly inspired by it and I knew I could make something like it myself with even better materials. I'm a graduate of Fashion Design from Pratt Institute, so I knew the fundamentals of design and construction. I went to work drafting the pattern, making the prototype and then finally the actual bag with my own spin on it. From there a small business of handmade bags was born but after several years of hand producing your own designs, you begin to want more. I always knew I wanted to outsource my manufacturing so I took the leap in 2012 and launched Shana Luther Handbags after finding a good fit with a local manufacturer. Manufacturing in the US is… extremely important to me and I always knew I wanted to do it here. NYC is world renowned for its incredible fashion manufacturing and garment district so why not take advantage of that? Not only does manufacturing here give designers more quality control, but it also supports our local economy. I'm able to drop into my manufacturer and actually check the progress and see how the bags are being made. That is invaluable to me. I think that US consumers are becoming more aware of where their products are being made and I'm proud to have a product with the Made in America stamp. Being selected as a finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards was... very thrilling! I have to say, I was not expecting to be chosen as one of the finalists. I was incredibly honored and knew that it was a slim chance for me to be one of the top ten from all of the amazing craftsmen, designers, cooks and artists that were amongst the chosen. Even though I didn't make it to the top ten, it was great being recognized by none other than Martha herself! In terms of inspiration… I'm inspired by so many things and many designers can attest to that, I'm sure. I'm always inspired by colors and textures but most recently, I'm loving vintage furniture and muscle cars for their beautiful shapes and lines. My current handbag of choice is… the William Tote. I've been carrying it all fall and winter and it's been wonderful for holding all my gear. The William Tote never runs out of room!{William Tote pictured above in camel} My personal style… I love dressing up like many women do but my everyday style is rather casual - skinny cargos, cute blouses, great boots, plenty of unique jewelry and of course one of my bags! My favorite American-made brands are… I have a pair of Frye boots and love that they are made here and will last a lifetime! Nanette Lepore is also amongst my favorites - not only for her designs but for her determination in bringing awareness to NYC's shrinking garment district. I also love Jason Wu's design aesthetic and love that he also produces here in the US. Buying American-made is important because… it supports our economy and local work forces. If more people buy American made products it will only create more awareness and because of that, more companies will begin producing here. The Best Valentine's Day Gift I've ever received... the first Valentine's Day I spent with my now husband, he brought me a box of Jacque Torres chocolates, which are made here in NYC. Torres's artisan chocolate is made with no artificial flavors or preservatives and each one is unique and amazingly delicious. My husband has turned this into a tradition and I'm a lucky gal to get these chocolates every year since our first Valentine's Day spent together. I look forward to those each February and of course spending time with my amazing husband!

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