Lets talk about a little series I've wanted to start for a while now, Small Biz Spotlights. I started my business back in 2015 and have since learned SO much about the ups and downs of running a company. Between expense reports and taxes, there's a lot that goes into making it all run smoothly. And let me tell you, every business owner I meet, whether it be someone in starting their first restaurant or in this case, an online boutique, I'm always fascinated and admirable of all of the hard work that others put into it.
Which leads me to my friend Laura...
Laura Zobar, recently started a small line of adorable bags, Bodnar. I first met Laura when she was considering starting the business. Like many of us small business owners, Laura was a little nervous about outing herself "out there" (girl we know the feeling) and getting things started but she did it and I'm IN LOVE with these bags.
Here I'm wearing the Mackenzie clutch which is actually super spacious. The morale of the story is, these bags are seriously just plain fun. Ideal for a date, the beach, or brunch, the Bodnar bags are too cute to pass on. Let's chat with Laura a little bit about the company shall we...
Q: Tell us about the bags!
A: So the bags are made of a colorful woven cotton blend that I discovered in New York City's Garment District last summer. The fabric was originally created for a well-known fashion designer who opted out of using it but when I found it, I knew I had to have it and bought the entire roll. There are five different bag styles but all are unstructured, which is great because they can easily be folded into a suitcase if you're traveling or tucked into a work or school bag. Personally, I think they're perfect as the type of bag you take with you when you want to go grab a midday coffee but don't want to bring your whole bag with you.
Q: Where are they made/how are they made?
A: Each bag is made of the recycled material I mentioned above, which is super soft (think American Apparel t-shirt) and lined with a thin canvas. Although the styles and sizes vary, each bag features rainbow colored tassels and poms. The Cece Clutch is a zippered pouch, while the others have a top flap closure. As for how they are made, I sew and hand-stitch each bag here in my studio in Washington, D.C. so they are Made in the USA, which is really important to me. I'm also working on incorporating organic fabric and natural dyes in future rounds of production.
Q: What was your inspiration for the bags?
A: A year ago, I was studying fashion design at Parsons School of Design in New York, and one of our assignments required us to make a handbag. While shopping for materials, I fell in love with the bright and colorful pattern and immediately knew I wanted to make an oversized slouchy clutch. I think at the time I was carrying a lot of things around with me in the city and needed something that could go from day to night, and this bag really worked for that. I carried it everywhere I went for the rest of summer.
Q: What made you decide to make a business out of it?
A: When I finished the bag I posted a picture of it on my Instagram and immediately had friends messaging and texting me asking me to make them one, which was really exciting! A few weeks later at our final exhibition, which is basically a showcase of everyone's work, I was walking around looking at other students' projects when one of my friends texted me that a girl was asking for me and wanted to buy one of my bags. The exhibition is more like an art show so the pieces aren't actually for sale but this girl was dead-set on leaving with one of my bags, so I named a price and she became my first customer! I think together these two experiences made me think I ought to give it a shot.
Q: Where did you come up with the name, Bodnar? And am I saying it right?
A: Yeah, so Bodnar (\bod-ner\) is a family name. It was the last name of my great-aunt and uncle who were clothiers in Budapest, Hungary. They owned a shop in Paris and made clothes for members of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's royal family, which I thought was pretty cool. I also liked the name because it didn't box me into anything specific, so whichever direction I decide to expand in the future I'll still be able to use the same brand name.
Q: What is the best part of having your own small business?
A: I love being able to work on something that is meaningful to me and where I see the impact of my work. I didn't always feel this way when I was working in an office and it's something I really appreciate. I also enjoy being able to bounce between being creative when I'm designing, social when I'm engaging with customers, and strategic when I'm running numbers or working on the business side of things. It's fun that every day is different!
...and what is the worst?
I think the hardest part is doing it on my own. I don't have a business partner or team so every decision rests on my shoulders, which can be a little overwhelming. That being said, I'm incredibly lucky because I have the most supportive friends and family who have helped with every decision I've made. They also happen to be my best customers! So it goes without saying that without them, Bodnar wouldn't exist. (Thanks guys!!!)
Q: How would you describe your target customer?
A: I'd say our client is a woman with a classic, preppier style. Definitely someone who "lives colorfully"! The bags are perfect for a woman-on-the-go because they transition from day-to-night really well. My current customers use their Bodnar bags for everything from a smaller pouch to hold essentials in a large work bag to the clutch they take out when meeting friends for drinks or traveling abroad.
Q: If you could have any celebrity or influencer carrying a Bodnar bag, who would it be?
A: Well I loved the shoot you did and seeing the Bodnar MacKenzie Clutch featured on Libby Living Colorfully was really exciting! It's hard to pick a celebrity or influencer because there are so many talented and incredible women, some of whom I've been lucky enough to engage with already. I think also because Bodnar is so new it's really exciting when anyone purchases or is carrying a Bodnar bag. As I mentioned earlier, so many of my girlfriends have been so supportive and it's the best feeling in the world when we go out or run into each other and they're using their Bodnar bag!
Q: So what's next?
A: I'm playing around with new styles all the time and planning colors and fabrics for the upcoming seasons. Right now our five styles include the Original Milly Oversized Slouchy Clutch, the CeCe which is a smaller zippered pouch, the MacKenzie Oversized Slouchy Clutch, the Mini Mac (a smaller version of the MacKenzie), and the Perfect Kate Clutch.
In planning for the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons, I'm focused on a color palette that includes blush, navy, and shades of red and tawny brown, maybe olive too! I'm also looking at how we can incorporate organic fabrics and outsource to ethical manufacturers (within in the U.S.). And I'd love to see Bodnar bags in local retailers like Tuckernuck, Salt & Sundry, and Take Care Shop but for now our bags are available at www.shopbodnar.com.
Make sure to shop ALLLLLLL the bags from Bodnar and follow them on instagram