Susan Handley started Beijo as a struggling single mom. Three years later her bags are sold by the tens of thousands at home parties and stores nationwide. Many of the women who host Beijo parties are in the process of gaining their first measure of financial independence.
The bags are made from “vegetarian friendly” material (no leather) – durable polyvinyl, to which combinations of special materials for Beijo’s signature pearlescent finish is added. The bags can be recycled when send back to the manufacturer.
Photo Credit: Web Burrell
“I’ve loved handbags ever since I was a little girl. I’d sneak into my mother’s closet to play dress-up and stack my arms with every bag I could reach. But I never thought my passion for purses would provide a paycheck, until four years ago. That’s when my “practical career”-selling advertising in newspapers and on the radio-made me certifiably unhappy. Babysitters. Stress. Zero savings. As a single mom with a 6-year-old, I needed a major life change, but I didn’t have time to figure out what it was. So I quit-cold turkey.
Beijo “Prim & Proper” bag in pearl from the New Classic Collection,$105.
…I spent a lot of time being scared to death until I noticed my friends were buying knockoff designer bags at home parties. They’d invite a bunch of the girls over, serve wine and cheese and get a discount on the merchandise for hosting the party. I thought, I can design bags that are just as inexpensive but really special. It would be a way for me to work from home-or someone else’s home. So I tapped the entrepreneurial know-how that runs in my family. My father lives in Hong Kong and exports furniture to the United States. With his help, I toured 30 Chinese factories until I found one that had a truly fabulous material: pearlescent vinyl in a gorgeous array of colors. Seeing the potential, my father bought into my venture by lending me $50,000 for start-up costs.
Beijo “You Complete Me” Petal Pink satin bag, wallet and luggage tag set from the Founder’s Edition Collection, $135.
…For luck I named my company Beijo, “kiss” in Portuguese, after my son Kyle’s second word. And luck was what I needed six months later when a container of 2,500 bags arrived in Jacksonville Beach, FL, where I was living. I set up a booth at a local bazaar, and women went crazy. Not only did I sell 300 bags in four days, but customers wanted to host parties in their homes to sell my bags to friends and family. I didn’t ask-they did!”-Susan Handley.
Retail Price Points: $45-$129