The Willa Clutch
We Green Pebbles Girls have always been fan's of New York brand WILLaCY's clutches so it was with real excitement and pleasure that we were able to catch up with WILLaCY's creative director and founder Kamilah Willacy.
You set up Willacy almost 7 years ago, the last couple of years have been very tough for many luxury brands due to the financial climate yet WillaCY still seems to be going strong, what do you believe to be the main reasons behind this success?
When I started WILLaCY, I immediately started focusing on growing economies while others were concentrated on a strong saturated market which eventually weakened after the economic turmoil. This brand has a strong position with a loyal client base in the emerging markets.
Aside for the online shop your brand appears to be very boutique oriented. Was this a strategic decision to focus on boutiques? What was the rationale behind it?
I would love to say that it was a strategic decision however; the main reason why we are boutique oriented resulted in the fact that I never wanted to mass-produce so soon in fear that the quality of production would diminish. Therefore my bags are mainly made to order which is a business model that worked best with boutiques rather than department stores which require bulk in stock goods ready to ship. With that said, we are steadily growing our presence in larger arenas here in New York through several department stores this year.
The Getta Handbag
How many points of sale do you have to date and where are they located?
We have 8 major points of sales within New York ,LA, Miami, Nigeria and recently Dubai exclusively at Valley Dez stores.
What are your major markets?
My major markets are the Middle East ,Africa and Europe.
The Paisley Crystal Clutch
How would you describe your typical client? Who is the woman who buys WILLaCY?
My typical client is a woman who has a multi-functional lifestyle and needs accessories that are bold yet sophisticated.
You studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and during that time also modeled, you then moved to Italy where you studied at the Universita’ degli Studi in Milan, which of these experiences have been most influential in your designs?
I would say those experiences influenced the business aspect however; while studying in Milan where I learned to work with leather, It influenced my need to work with handbags. My designs are influenced by my love for eccentric prints, leather and fabric detail.
What is your fondest memory of your time in Milan and Europe in general?
My fondest memories in Europe, when I spent a summer in Copenhagen, Demark. The humble & colourful architecture near the canal were truly like no other place I have been in Europe. It’s still one of my favorite places to go.
The Pyra Handbag
Your designs in general, and your clutches in particular have a very clean and linear almost architectural feel to them, yet this is somehow contrasted by your use of colour and patterns which adds a certain exotic flair allowing them to stand out from the rest, how would you define your collection?
I have such a strong interest in Architecture and actually studied it before studying fashion. My designs are a merge between the two worlds.
Your signature bag for this season is the Willa clutch. The use of metallic gold and dark lines is very reminiscent of the artifacts from Ancient Egypt giving the clutches a very luxurious feel. What inspired this collection in particular?
This collection was inspired by North-East African culture. The last 2 seasons I have concentrated on their use of fabric and leather.
The Willa Evening Clutch (Ivory)
Functionality appears to go hand in hand with your designs, particularly the handbags which appear to have been designed with a busy woman in mind, juggling several things at once who doesn’t have time to transfer all her ‘bag belongings from one bag to another’ and who therefore requires a bag which can be used for most occasions. What are the key functionalities do you aim to achieve when designing a handbag?
It was important for me to create bags that can hold all the things a women needs throughout the day yet had an aesthetic that would be carried all the way into the evening.
Do you consider yourself a methodical designer who sits at their desk and sketches or are you the kind of designer who needs to be inspired and walks around with a sketchbook and pencil in their handbag just in case they are inspired by something they see, hear or feel?
My design process varies from season to season but I would say overall I am truly inspired by what is around me and what I am feeling.
The Tweedy Clutch
Which designer today or from the past do you relate to most and why?
Coco Chanel is whom I relate to most because she was truly an independent through design and in business. As WILLaCY grows, I hope to offer even just a fraction of what she has brought to this industry.
As with most designers you are probably already developing your new collection while promoting your latest one. What can we expect to see in Autumn Winter 2012/2013?
You will see a play with materials both soft and textured such as cashmere mixed with exotic skins. And of course more evening clutches!
WE CAN'T WAIT!
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