Get to Know: Modjewel
Tell us about your brand and your business model.
Modjewel is an innovative accessories brand making handbags that adapt to any style, season or occasion. Our handbags feature a Modular System that allows women to change the exterior of their bag by attaching Modules such as Clasps, Covers and Straps to a reusable handbag base, the Bare Bag. These Modules can be purchased separately in different materials, colors and designs, giving customers the creative freedom to really make it their own.
Thanks to shielded internal magnets (engineered not to interfere with credit cards), changing the exterior of the Modjewel bag is as simple as removing the magnetic Shell, wrapping a new Cover around it and placing it back on the Bare Bag. Clasps, the jewel of the bag, can also be released and swapped out with the simple click of a button. By making our handbag bases reusable, we believe we are doing two things: 1) making a playful bag that can be changed indefinitely; 2) creating sustainability through modular design.
The playful nature of our product results in a business model that is based on the one-time purchase of our Bare Bag and repeated purchases of Modules. While we have tested selling our bags as kits in boutiques, we have had the most success selling them directly to the consumer through our own website — customers enjoy the experience of building their bags themselves rather than purchasing a fully assembled kit. This business model also permits us to offer a much more competitive price point to our customers, eliminating the middle man.
In addition to offering creative freedom through our modular approach, we also made Modjewel’s bags functional: our Bare Bag accommodates a woman’s daily essentials and its interior features a center divider with room for cash and credit cards while side pockets can store lipstick and other small items. Our reusable Smart Pouches packaging system keeps everything visible and neatly organized, allowing for easy browsing while taking up very little storage space in one’s closet or suitcase. The end result is a handbag crafted to the same high standards as designer brands, but that is completely customizable, changeable, and sustainable.
As we scale, we plan on releasing new collections of Covers, Clasps, and Straps so that customers can simply purchase additional Modules each season to update the look of their Modjewel bags, keeping up with trends and seasons in a sustainable way.
What drove you to start your own label? And what have you enjoyed the most so far?
The concept for Modjewel was born out of frustration – I felt that current handbags in the market limited my options and ability to create something I truly loved. It also did not seem practical storing a pile of bags in my tiny closet or having to pack several bags whenever I traveled, not to mention how expensive it gets owning several bags. I just wanted to own a single bag that had the ability to be styled in different ways, something that would be easy to store and fun to wear.
Having always been mindful of sustainability, I wanted to live a more minimalistic lifestyle and only own a few key dynamic pieces rather than fall into the fast-fashion track and end up purchasing too many accessories that I would only wear once to a friend’s wedding or to a special event. This inspired me to develop a new handbag system that would be sustainable by design and better suit a modern women’s lifestyle.
I have really enjoyed the technical challenges brought about developing a consumer product from scratch: from collaborating with top Industrial Designers and Mechanical Engineers to research, prototype, and perfect a sustainable handbag system, to developing a playful brand platform with a distinctive voice, personality, and identity. In this process, I was fortunate to meet several talented designers and creatives who not only helped shape Modjewel’s overall look and feel but who also helped shape me as a designer and creative thinker.
What are one or two big goals you’re focusing on in the next 6 months?
In the upcoming 6 months, we will be focusing on growing our customer base through pop up shops, strategic joint giveaways with brands that are aligned with ours, collaborations with bloggers, and product placement in TV shows.
As a recently launched brand, we realize we need a solid marketing strategy to really be able to get the word out about Modjewel. Therefore, we have been applying for accelerators in the East Coast as an avenue to have better access to media outlets as well as have the opportunity to pitch to investors and, ultimately, obtain funding to grow our brand. We are also working on a new collection of Modules as well a new handbag silhouette to add to our product line.
StartUp FASHION offers business support and community connection to fashion designers around the world. Join the group, or learn more at The StartUp FASHION Community
The Sarmiento Collection was born from a desire to create handbags that were exotic yet elegant, to offer a luxury accessory but avoid high priced mark-ups. Our design process involves experimenting with classic silhouettes; equally focused on functionality as much as a striking aesthetic.