Q&A: Minnesota Handbag Designer Danielle Sakry

Designer Danielle Sakry in her studio

Kelsey Lee photography

The Twin Cities’ hottest new handbag line hails from an unlikely place: St. Cloud, Minnesota. Designer Danielle Sakry’s namesake line of luxe leather accessories wouldn’t be out of place in the designer handbag department of Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom. Her line of handbags, clutches, and small leather goods are handcrafted in Minnesota.

I recently chatted with Sakry about her background, design process, and what’s next for her.

How did you first begin to get into designing handbags?

I started with a little bit more of a custom, one-of-a-kind thing about two years ago, getting used to the making and technique. I’ve been making distinct collections and figuring out my company fits in a traditional fashion sense for about a year.

You have a background in law. Why the transition to fashion?

I had always wanted to help people. As I got further through the law school process, it wasn’t satisfying the creative itch I had, so I thought i’d try something in the meantime. My mom had bought some scrap leather from SR Harris and we just started playing around with it. I made a couple of little pouches just for the fun of it, not thinking anything of it, and people kept complimenting it, and I thought, I must have something here. That’s how it started. I had no education in fashion, so it was a slow start, but I’m getting there. Full disclosure: my mom is an amazing seamstress, and I’ve been sewing since I was 5. I’d never really gotten into the industry of fashion, but I always had that sensibility and desire to make my own things. I’ve been working with my hands for a long time.

What’s your design process?

Trial and error. I start off with an idea and create a rough sketch, and then put that onto a pattern paper and start to work out a pattern and create prototypes from that, and eventually work with the leather. It’s really a natural process from the beginning to the end. I’m not necessarily Type A, or perfectionist, but I like clean, finished details. I’ve even watched videos on YouTube to try different techniques for sewing leather. It’s very precise work.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I sort of figure it out as I go. I think what it comes down to when we as women find a piece that transforms your attitude, and you feel like you’re expressing yourself, and it feels natural. So when I’m inspired to create a new style, I really try to step back and think, what is a bag that will work really seamlessly? Maybe my customer needs to go to the office and carry a laptop, or on Sunday she wants to take it to a farmer’s market. Something that polishes off a look but is still effortless. In terms of aesthetics, I’m always editing down elements that don’t need to be there, but at the same time I like to have something that’s unique. There’s some detail and eclecticness. I understand my price point is an investment piece, so I want it to be really multi-use.

Who are your favorite designers, and where do you look for design inspiration?

That’s like picking your favorite child! Celine is one of my favorites. I love the Row and Narciso Rodriguez. I definitely get a lot of inspiration from iconic bags. But I try as much as I can to step back and try to design from artistic inspiration—fine art, sculpture.

Where do you source your leather and hardware?

My leather comes from a tannery in California. I’m pretty particular about the quality of leather, that’s one of the thing that people note the most often that it’s soft but can still hold weight and have structure. My hardware from a company in Ohio, mostly made in USA, and all my brass is from India.

Do you plan to release seasonal collections?

I don’t necessarily release them with the industry calendar, but eventually I would like to. I tend to release small collections to keep it fresh. I’m starting to break into wholesale.

Do you have plans to manufacture?

Definitely, sooner than later. I found out last Christmas, if I have any more volume I wouldn’t be able to handle it myself. I haven’t gotten too far with it, but I’m trying to find the right one. The key is quality. The biggest thing is a responsible manufacturing process. It’s really important to me that employees are treated well and the quality is good. For now I’m a one-woman show.

Select handbags by Danielle Sakry are available locally at Arrow. Shop her full collection online at daniellesakry.com

Danielle Sakry Mirabella bucket bag

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry large Greta tote

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry Stella fringe cross-body bag

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry envelope clutch in navy

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry Mara tote

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry Corina clutch

Courtesy Askov Finlayson

Danielle Sakry mini bucket bag

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry Stella cross-body bag in marsala

Courtesy danielle sakry

Danielle Sakry tassel keyring in navy

Courtesy danielle sakry