THE PURSE-SUAL OF HAPPINESS
THERAPIST-CUM-ACCESSORIES DESIGNER AMY FELDMAN IS FINDING EMPOWERMENT THROUGH RETAIL.

Byline: Deirdre Mendoza

If there were ever a debate over the benefits of talk versus retail therapy, Amy Feldman would be the perfect person to weigh in on it.
After five years of hawking her handmade bags to friends and at flea markets, Amy Feldman turned her weekend gig into a bustling business, complete with a sales rep and contacts to key retailers, enabling her to leave her day job as a therapist behind. Feldman is the founding designer of 2 Old Bags, a contemporary accessories line based in Los Angeles and represented at Le Trend showroom in the CaliforniaMart. Henri Bendel in New York and Fred Segal Feet in Los Angeles are among the 50 accounts nationwide who are carrying the line.
Feldman was in a San Fernando Valley mall in 1993 when she first got an inkling of her future profession.
“I was walking around the mall and I saw this little evening bag, just a rectangular thing. I thought, I could make one of those,” said Feldman, who does not sew, but was resourceful enough to find a friend who could whip up a sample of the then-popular baguette style.
Feldman brought the cotton handbag with a novelty beaded handle to a neighborhood party, where she received requests. Within a week, she and a sew-savvy neighbor put together a line to sell at the Rose Bowl swap meet in Pasadena. At $40 a pop, Feldman’s creations found plenty of takers.
Last year, Feldman finally found a contractor to make up a bag in pony with leather straps and others in animal print-motifs. She happened to have the prototype with her on a shopping expedition to accessories retailer David’s Shoes. A saleswoman showed interest, and the retailer placed an order for all four stores.
Empowered by this coup, Feldman boldly drove a few of her bags over to the “Will and Grace” soundstage in Burbank, where the costumer picked up several for the show. Earlier this summer, New York retailer Henri Bendel picked her up during the Los Angeles installation of its Open See, literally an open-call to fledgling designers to place their wares at the Gotham institution.
2 Old Bags only have one signature style: a boho, unconstructed shape with shoulder strap, zipper closure and a patchwork theme.
For spring 2002, Feldman is offering a retro flair in three groups: suede on suede patchwork in neutral colors, a denim and suede group (denim with red and light blue suede patches, black denim with black suede patches) and a lambskin patchwork group with pastel lambskin patches. The bags come in small or large and range from $65 to $85, wholesale.
“This whole thing is kind of evolving,” said Feldman, adding that, though the economy seems unsteady, she would like to do $1 million in sales for yearend 2002. “For now,” she said, “the plan is to sit down and come up with the next season.”