#SoleSurvivor Erin Shaffer is known for her vibrant-chic handbags, designed under the name SHAFFER LA which are produced in a factory in the heart of Los Angeles. The Queen of handbags was recently asked by OneKingsLane: “What’s always in your bag?”
Erin flattered us by saying: “The one thing I love, and I’m obsessed with right now is called Sole Serum. If you’ve been wearing heels out or espadrilles, you roll it on your feet when they’re super swollen and it numbs your feet. This stuff is a godsend. “
We LOVE Erin too, so we asked her more about what she does, and what inspires her! Read below, especially if you’re a budding entrepreneur.
SS: What inspired you to become a handbag designer?
ES: After leaving the hospitality industry, I went back to my fashion roots by accepting a position in PR and Events at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills. While there, I was inspired by a personal need for a well-made, high quality leather bag within an approachable price point. I didn’t want anything extremely trendy that wouldn’t stand the test of time. After listening to customers’ requests and observing buying behaviors, I knew there was a huge need in the market for a dream handbag that wasn’t out there yet.
SS: How do you balance creativity with business?
ES: It’s a hard balance. As a designer, you don’t want creative to interfere with business strategy. One of the core attributes of SHAFFER LA is the value of the product for the price. I approach design and creative conception with the ultimate business sales goals in mind. A balance is required in order drive the business and brand.
SS: Favorite color scheme?
ES: The inner prep I am makes me driven to Red, White and Blue
SS: Besides Sole Serum, one other ESSENTIAL in your handbag?
ES: A rubber band hair tie. I get anxiety without one in my bag or on my wrist!
SS: Favorite part of running your own business?
ES: Being able to adjust my hours! I can work around my daytime commitments and not worry about cramming too much into a lunch hour.
SS: Advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
ES: Be brave, fearless and relentless. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
SS: Advice for aspiring young designers?
ES: Ask as many questions as possible to every person involved in the business. Each part of a process- from the marketing team, to the shipping team- have a purpose and a perspective that is important to understand. Knowledge is power when it comes to product manufacturing and design.
SS: What’s one part of the design/fashion industry outsiders may not realize/expect?
ES: A product has so many elements, all touched by various people before they reach the happy consumer. From design concepts, to actual assembly, quality control and packaging, the business of fashion is very human and requires human hands and eyes to ensure a product is flawless.
Erin crafting her one-of-a-kind handbags!
SS: Favorite moment of your design career thus far?
ES: Seeing someone carry my product on the street…I geeked out.
SS: What fashion trend have you worn…and then immediately regretted?
ES: Oh there’s so many! I even have photographic evidence to confirm my fashion mistakes. The one that I can most recently remember is the silk-pajama-daytime-wear trend. I tried to rock the top and bottom silk set and looked truly like I rolled out of bed and was sleep walking with shoes. Tragic.
SS: Most bizarre thing you’ve ever seen in someone’s handbag?
ES: HAHA! I generally don’t snoop but I did have a woman show me her SHAFFER LA bag and a Rubik’s cube rolled out. I didn’t ask questions but certainly came up with a lot of weird scenarios in my head why she would have it randomly in her bag.
SS: Why do you love Sole Serum?
ES: I love Sole Serum as it provides me an opportunity to have relief when I need it most. I am very tall and love heels but don’t wear them much. When I leave my Repetto flats and throw on the heels for an occasion, it is only a few minutes before my feet are in pain. Sole Serum provides me relief so I don’t have to walk bare feet in the most inappropriate places.
The one pair of shoes you can’t live without Repetto Ballet Flats
SS: When you’re not wearing your own designs, what’s your “go-to” bag?
ES: I love a great pouch! It can carry everything but can also be placed inside another bag without having to transfer all my personal belongings. I generally carry a Goyard colored pouch when I am not carrying SHAFFER LA…or you’ll find the pouch inside a SHAFFER LA!
SS: Surprising fact about yourself.
ES: I applied to Princeton and got accepted and never told my parents. Note – I was a C student but a really good essay writer
SS: Favorite fashion or beauty magazine?
ES: Town and Country
SS: Favorite beauty or fashion trend of 2016 so far?
ES: I am biased for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, I love that more and more fashion brands are committing to manufacturing in the USA. Nothing beats an ethically sourced and produced product.
SS: Give us a hint of what your next creation will look like?
ES: A second generation of the Greta shape and the introduction of suede!
SS: Fill in the blank…”If I weren’t designing handbags, I’d be….”
ES: A Doctor
SS: What mantra do you live by?
ES: Treat others as you would want to be treated.
What a great #SoleMate your are, Erin. Thanks for the conversation. We love to hear from our #SoleSurvivors. Feel free send us your stories, photos and testimonials. You know you can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We are standing by to feature you.