ART IN A BAG
THESE HANDBAGS ARE MORE LIKE FINE JEWELRY THAN A PLACE FOR LIPSTICK AND A CELL PHONE.
Byline: Emily Holt
Who cares that Lily Scott bags actually hold lipstick and credit cards? Their true value exists within the beauty of the pieces themselves. Which is exactly why last December, when Lily Yudis, creator of the handbags, ran into a friend of hers who owns a boutique on the Friday before Christmas, she returned home with an order for 42 handbags.
Yudis did not intend to solicit her wares that Friday; she was just out wearing her own creation for personal enjoyment. But enjoyment soon turned to profits, and in short order, Lily Scott became a business.
And as if the Christmas season wasn’t hectic enough, it became even more chaotic for Yudis, as well as her husband, Scott, for whom the company is co-named. Combining his business sense with her creative intuition, the two spent their weekend in the living room churning out bags.
Four months later, Yudis hasn’t stopped working. Based on initial bookings, she is projecting a first-year sales volume of $1 million.
A particular fan has been found in Tracey Ross, owner of her own West Hollywood boutique, which is a Los Angeles staple.
Referring to the Lily Scott line’s unique composition, Ross said, “Her combination of ethnic with old is beautiful. It’s not what everybody else is doing, and I see everything.” Ross selected pieces for her store from Yudis’s antique selection, recognizing them more as fine jewelry than handbags.
Creating new pieces as well as restoring vintage finds, Yudis’s work results in beautifully hand-crafted artwork disguised as handbags. The Lily Scott bags’ vibrant color combinations, like purple and orange or gunmetal gray and pink, distinguish them.
New designs, priced around $200, may incorporate sequined or paillette bags/bodies with handles of raw turquoise or Japanese tensha beads, giving them the appearance of fine beaded bracelets. Even more delicate are the antique bags Yudis restores by relining the interior or replacing detail with Swarovski crystals. At the price of $750, these bags are more for display than they are for function.
Covering all looks from modern to vintage, Yudis’s designs have caught the eye of young Hollywood. Kirsten Dunst practically ripped Yudis’s own bag from her wrist, desperate for an accessory for the SAG awards. When buying pieces for her store, Tracey Ross kept one for herself and gave another to Kate Hudson for her birthday. Other designs have been spotted gracing the arms of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Shiva Rose.
Yudis, who stays far away from mass market production, intends to keep her bags limited to unique, sought-after pieces. Her aim is to develop a loyal customer. “If a customer purchases a bag from last year’s line, I want it to be special that she got that bag from that line.”
Eventually, Yudis said, she would love to be able to respond to customers’ requests on a one-to-one basis. The opportunity to build those kinds of relationships may be drawing near, as the Lily Scott line takes on the Web. The bags will soon be featured on the shopping portals shoppingtheworld.com and fashiondish.com, which would allow Yudis to develop a following via an avenue different in important respects from the department store channel. That difference includes international exposure. “I’d love to see my bags in Europe,” Yudis noted, envisioning her bags swinging from the wrists of stylish girls in Paris.
A self-defined fashion victim and shopaholic, Yudis said she loves the concept of e-commerce. As a mother of two in a hectic household, Yudis relies on the Web for a quick fashion fix, as “I don’t have time to run around to all the boutiques. I love that you can see the world from your living room.”
That’s not to say Yudis has given up on the real-world boutique. Her six-month goal, she said, is to open her own boutique in Los Angeles, a city that she believes “works well with my style.”
Yudis said she hopes to open her doors this fall, with her new designs in gold and bronze on prominent display.
As Yudis put it, “The bags are like candy. How could you be a girl and not love these bags?”