1. Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a designer here in KC.
I started Dolyn Bags in January of 2014, after graduating from Stephens College with a bachelor’s in apparel studies. I bought a large industrial machine and a bunch of scrap hides and began designing my first pieces out of my grandmother’s basement. Since my education was in apparel, there were many failed attempts at the perfect bag! I obsessed over every detail, determined to achieve the perfect result of fine craftsmanship, practicality, luxury and class. The brand really took off for me in March of 2015 when I launched a nine-piece collection in Kansas City Fashion Week to much success!
Why handbags and purses? What drew you to this area of design?
I specifically care about longevity and creating staple pieces for men and women that will be relevant for decades. These values were best represented through leather products and accessories as a whole due to their versatility. So, although I’ve always loved bags, the decision to create a brand around them was as much for logic as it was design aesthetic. The brand name was chosen from one of my favorite names, Gwendolyn. I shortened the name to make it crisp and androgynous with the intention of an eventual emphasis on travel bags.
3. What makes your products unique?
My products are all handmade one by one in Kansas City. They often sport unique color blocking and interiors and are very striking in appearance and touch. It is common for my customers to come directly to my shop in the West Bottoms to fully customize their purchase. It is fun for my clients to see firsthand where the bags are made and have a say in the pocket lining, for example.
4. Where do you draw your inspiration from for your designs?
It is hard to pinpoint a specific origin for inspiration. I am inspired often by movies, people-watching, travel and my personal preferences. If I see a style or silhouette that is popular, I often take a stab at a (typically more complex) version of it, or I’m inspired to go in the completely opposite direction. I feel that trends are useful and important to pay attention to, but I don’t believe in following what everyone else is doing either. So my brand offers kind of a bit of everything.
5. Do you have a personal favorite bag you have designed? What is your go-to bag or purse?
My personal favorite is definitely the Kerri-All Tote. Named after my mama, it was my take on the simple tote bags that are so popular now. I added some blocking, some suede, magnets for an alternate silhouette option, fun pockets and long, comfortable straps. It has been a hit, and I carry mine everywhere, with two smaller bags inside so I’m prepared for every occasion.
6. Where can we find your bags and accessories?
Dolyn Bags can be found at Webster House, Tallulahbelle’s and Anaphora in Kansas City, as well as my website, DolynBags.com. My studio is located in the Livestock Exchange Building near Kemper Arena in Kansas City, and I welcome visitors!