Posh Purses

Handbag designer has a handle on style and function

It was frustrating at first because I was used to drawing teeth, not handbags,” says orthodontist Angela Theodora Anderson.
Three years ago, while working in New York at different dental practices, including her own, Anderson saw a woman on the crosstown bus struggling with a hand bag, a tote bag, and a paper bag. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, she could just probably put everything in one nice fashionable bag and call it a day.’ The light bulb came on.”

That one moment inspired Anderson to take a leap from teeth to chic by becoming a high-end handbag designer. In 2002, she launched angelaTheodora, a handbag company that specializes in classic, polished designs that are also functional. “My bags are for anyone trying to add a little edge and funk to their conservative look,” says Anderson.

Ranging in price from $175 to $500, each handbag is crafted from either calf hide, lambskin, or crocodile. “It’s not just about style,” insists Anderson, “it’s also about the shape, the construction, and the feel.”

Designing timeless pieces that suit every occasion is Anderson’s niche. The 49-year-old Cleveland native wanted her pieces to last for more than a season. “There are lots of companies doing the ‘it’ bag for right now,” she says. “They’re nice, of course, but I want my bags to always be appropriate.”

She also wants her clientele to break purse etiquette when sporting her designs. “Your handbag no longer has to match your shoes and belt,” Anderson says. “Look at it as another piece of clothing you’re wearing; if the color flows, use it.

To get her business up and running, Anderson showcased her goods at trade shows, conventions, and handbag parties. She is currently finalizing deals for her collection to hit Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Future plans include starting a men’s line and expanding her accessories business to watches.

“I was supposed to be in fashion,” says Anderson, who still works as an orthodontist four days a week. “So here I am.”

For more information on Anderson’s handbags, visit www.angelaTheodora.com.

What to look for in a great bag:

  • Shape. Bags today provide sharp, soft, and asymmetrical dimensions. You don’t have to get stuck in a conventional rut or feel pressure to follow a trend. Whether it’s business, pleasure, or transitional, there are a variety of designs that can enhance any personal style.
  • Fabric. Of course, the more luxurious bags are made from skins that range from lambskin to ostrich. Designers are also offering an exciting array of styles that include embroidery as well as blending materials such as canvas with metals and exotic woods and leathers.
  • Function. Many of today’s bags are designed with ease and convenience in mind. Anderson’s bags are compartmentalized to accommodate items such as cell phones and PDI’s. Her bags are also lined with a brightly colored fabric allowing the contents to stand out against the lining.
  • Authenticity. Knockoffs are not just sold on the street. There are a number of boutiques and other unsuspecting shops that will sometimes carry inauthentic designer bags. Of course,
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