As someone who has jumped around from career to career and tried a bit of everything along the way, I strongly admire people who have always known what they've wanted to do with their professional lives. I imagine great comfort in that – a direct through line in one's ambition.
I have known a few of these laser-focused individuals in my lifetime. One of them is my father – who says he always knew he wanted to be a lawyer. Another is a woman whom I met in my teens. Even then, she seemed destined for a career in fashion.
I have a particular visual memory of Jodi Been, who was a class behind me at Nicolet. I remember her always being flawlessly styled in the hallways of our cavernous high school. Her outfits stood out as being a little more put-together than the rest of us wearing plaid shirts, stonewashed jeans and oversized sweaters.
That sense of style, love of fashion and design has been carried through since Jodi left Wisconsin for FIT in New York City. After completion, she interned for Betsy Johnson (I die!) and was an assistant designer at Steve Madden and The New York Accessories group before graduating to head designer at companies like Pinky/Ultra Pink, Pacific Sunware and Claire's. She is one of those people who have had a straight shot from their initial ambition to their current success.
Accessories are not only an obsession, but also a profession for Jodi. Doing what she loves, this style guru – now living in Los Angeles – has made retail coup d'état, turning her passion for jewelry and purses into two lines of designer handbags ready for gifting this holiday season.
The vintage-inspired, elegant yet funky, luxury "Jodi Been" handbag line and the exotic prints and practical function of "Crimson Muse" are both manufactured in downtown Los Angeles. I predict between the incredible, creative designs within these two lines, Milwaukee can call the next "must-have" purse designer a native daughter.
I had a chance to chat with Jodi to find out more about her two retail lines, "Jodi Been" and "Crimson Muse," her inspiration, goals, where to purchase and why the heck handbags are such a coveted item.
Lindsay Garric: I spotted your bags on Facebook and am dying to know more! Tell me about your two lines of bags, purses and handbags.
Jodi Been: "Jodi Been" styles combine gorgeous materials with amazing silhouettes and added details such as vintage hardware or tassel fringe ... unique looks, different from those found in the contemporary handbag market.
"Crimson Muse" styles showcase global accessory decoration, rare vintage textiles and handcrafted details on each and every style allowing for truly one-of-a-kind pieces.
LG: What is it about designer handbags? Why are they important? Why do you think certain women must have that Coach bag, or that "Jodi Been" pocketbook?
JB: Quite simply, designer handbags are such a visible way to reflect one's style. Be it a logo, detail or recognizable triangle, bags can be a daily show of "label lust." However, I do think that some women just merely appreciate and love having yet another accessory to adorn themselves with. Like clothes, bags are a form of self-expression and sometimes, a more attainable way to switch up a look and experiment with new styles.
LG: Where are "Jodi Been" and "Crimson Muse" available? Please say we can get these in Milwaukee!
JB: "Jodi Been" is available at a few unique boutiques in Los Angeles and is making its debut in the Chicago area at Willow Boutique on Gage Street in Winnetka this month. Jodibeen.com is under construction.
"Crimson Muse" is available at boutiques in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Milwaukee's own FLIRT down in the Third Ward at 317 N. Broadway. "Crimson Muse" will also be available online soon at ShopCrimsonMuse.com.
And of course, I am so excited that both lines will be available on Dec. 7 at The Shops at Gigi for their "Holiday Pop Up Shop!"
LG: OK, I have to ask, because I want one, and I know Milwaukee girls are going to want one of your pieces too. What's the damage on these bags? Can you give me a price point?
JB: Prices for "Jodi Been" styles retail from $198 to $398. Prices for "Crimson Muse" styles range from $28 to $398. Signature totes (best-selling silhouettes) retail from $249 to $299.
LG: What is the ultimate goal for "Jodi Been" and "Crimson Muse?"
JB: First and foremost, I want to continue to grow and expand the "Jodi Been" line to include many more silhouettes and offer a wider range of styles each season. Having worked as a corporate designer for assorted retailers, I became enchanted with all manner of accessories, and would ultimately love to take the signature look that is the essence of line and apply it to other classifications including jewelry, belts, fashion scarves, etc.
The "Crimson Muse" line really was born from my love of travel, adoration for textiles, and absolute obsession with decoration. Through work travels, I became obsessed and enthralled with the amazing textiles and fabrics indigenous to India and Thailand. I truly love that every piece reflects heritage from different countries and that no two pieces are exactly alike. I would love to continue to also grow and expand this line as I find new and amazing artisans to work with and collaborate.
I think a natural progression at some point would also be to expand to other textile accessories and jewelry that take the best from each country and meld that with my vision.
LG: Sounds like global accessory domination!
Jodi's purses will be featured in Milwaukee at the "Holiday Pop Up Shop" Wednesday, Dec. 7 (snowdate Dec. 8) at The Shops At Gigi, 1550 W. Mequon Road. Be sure to stop by for drinks, light fare and a bag the fashionista in your life is sure to treasure.
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