How This Designer Created Wooden Handbags

From Leather to Wood

I studied economics and interior design in college, but a year after graduation I realized I wanted to design handbags. I started the brand Aurelia Garza Handbags in 2014 and released my first collection of leather handbags in 2015.

While I was studying in Milan earlier this year I was inspired to take a new design challenge. I was doing some shopping and I saw a simple wooden clutch that inspired me very much. Thinking how some people feel very strongly against using leather, I thought wood would be a good alternative. So I decided to start working on my second collection, but this time it would be wooden bags.

Art + Architecture in Handbags

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While studying interior design I studied furniture design and creating a wooden bag didn’t feel different. It was the same design process. Using wood would allow me to create three dimensional textures and have very sculptural bags. Art and architecture have always been a huge source of inspiration for me.

The bags are very sculptural and are inspired by the movement of water. The main difference between creating leather vs wooden handbags is that a good leather handbag has a lot of different reinforcement materials inside. The flap of a bag could have around 5 different layers of different reinforcement materials. However, a wooden bag doesn’t need reinforcement at all.

The Right Factory Partner

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From the beginning, I knew that finding the right factory was crucial to the success of my new wooden bags. You want to work with a factory that understands your needs, it’s not afraid to do something new or out of their comfort zone. That is very important for me, as a designer I want to create new and unique things and I need a factory that is willing to do the same thing.

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I started searching on Google for a factory but I wasn’t having much luck, until I found Maker’s Row. With Maker’s Row I could find many factories across the U.S. and I love that you can also search a factory by state. When I search for a factory I look for a factory that is relatively close to me. In case a visit to the factory is required I can easily go without traveling too far. That is one of the most important benefits of manufacturing in the U.S. I also look for factories that display some of their work online. It gives me an idea of the kind of work they normally do.

Working with Clean Air Woodworks

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After checking out a few factories’ profiles online, I decided working with Clean Air Woodworks would be the best for my brand. They specialize in furniture but since I was looking for a factory that knew how to work well with wood I thought they would be perfect. The factories that make handbags only work with leather so they wouldn’t have been the right fit for me. Mr. Rogers at Clean Air Woodworks understood what I was looking for and didn’t say no to doing something different from what the factory normally does.

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Currently, I am still working on the second design of my wooden handbags with Clean Air.  The bags will be available this fall in 5 different colors. All my bags are available online at aureliagarza.com and Carats retailer in McAllen TX.


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