Amy Schmitz has always had a knack for fashion. From constantly trying on clothes as a little girl to creating clothing lines in adulthood, fashion has always been her biggest passion. It wasn’t until just over a year ago though, that she realized she’s keen on creating and crafting designer handbags—and started her own bag line called Alice Bags.
Ironically enough, Schmitz wasn’t prepared to make a career out of fashion. She skipped attending any fashion institutes and hasn’t taken design or fashion courses. Instead, she went to school for cosmetology and was a hairdresser for 18 years. “When you do hair, everyone can have their own style,” Schmitz says. “It’s the same thing with bags.”
Cue Alice, Schmitz’s “large beast,” otherwise known as her 130-pound St. Bernard. Schmitz wanted a bag that was both practical yet chic, and something she could bring on dog walks and use during training. So, when she started designing her versatile bags, she knew just what to call her brand: Alice Bags.
It all started in summer 2018 with the Classic Alice—a stylish, fringe and camo-printed bucket bag. Next came the Alice minis, a perfect stocking-stuffer gift; the Alice fanny, an easy on-the-go travel essential; the Alice crossbody and many more designs. Now, the bags are sold in Edina’s popular boutique, Equation. “The bags sell out of Equation every time,” Schmitz says. “It’s amazing.”
But creating her one-of-a-kind purses is no easy feat. Schmitz typically spends hours creating a design, which she drafts completely in her mind, and goes out to purchase the materials needed—which usually include an authentic leather hide, straps, chains, buckles and more. Next, she starts sewing the bags, with each bag taking a full day (if not more) to complete.
Recently, Schmitz created her own custom-made bag liner, complete with her new Alice logo—and Schmitz says that’s the easy way to know it’s an Alice bag. But sometimes a design just doesn’t work out how she plans. “They can be really ugly,” she says. Instead of throwing away an idea, she reworks it until she finds a design she likes.
For Schmitz, it’s also important to stick to her own style instead of copying other designer bags (though she may find some inspiration, she says). When she tries to do what’s popular it doesn’t always sell right away. When she sticks to her own true style, the bags sell out in a heartbeat.
“There’s a million fashion [styles] out there,” Schmitz says. “But stick to the one that’s true to you … Do what you do best.”
Give the Gift of a Bag
Alice bags—typically the minis—are the perfect gift, says Schmitz. “[The perfect gift idea] is four to five people going in on an Alice mini and filling it with money, gift cards and a few of [her] favorite things,” she says.
Schmitz has seen ladies fill the bags with everything from local boutique gift cards, including Equation, to makeup products or a Starbucks card. And don’t worry, minis will be in abundance this holiday season. Coming up for the chilly season will be new styles, bags, prints (be on the lookout for cheetah) and a few new accessories—including comfortable one size fits all wraps. There’s sure to be something everyone on your gift list will love.