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Tiffany Montgomery
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Nordstrom picks up Lesa Wallace handbags

By Tiffany Montgomery
April 04, 2008 8:00 AM

Last year was a breakout year for Lesa Wallace of Huntington Beach.


Levi's approached her with a co-branding deal, and she created handbags for Levi's 55 stores. She moved into her first office and now has three employees. She received an order from Nordstrom for 10 stores for this spring.


Now, Wallace is talking with investors, and co-branding deals with other brands are in the works.


"My customers are becoming the big boys," she said. "I don't want there to be any issues with capital."


So far, she has financed her business by selling a little, making a little, selling a little, making a little.


Lesa started her handbag company in 2003 after a teacher in a design class encouraged her to shop around the bags she created for an accessories project. On her first day knocking on the doors of LA boutiques she landed $10,000 in orders.


For three years, she did everything herself from home - designing, selling and backend operations so she wouldn't have to take on investors.


"It was very hard juggling everything," she said. To land orders, "I was relentless - emailing, calling, sending look-books."


Her ultimate goal is to become the next Kate Spade.


"I don't want to be presumptuous, but I don't see a whole lot holding me back but capital," she said. "So yes, I want to be the next Kate Spade - I might as well put it out there."


I wrote a column about Lesa in the current edition of OC METRO magazine.

 


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