After cruising the internet late one night – like I usually do as I’m an insomniac, I stumbled upon the Gigee Marie collection and immediately fell in love with the usage of colours, fabrics and embellishments. I couldn’t help but investigate further to find out who was behind the new brand of affordable priced accessories. Turns out it’s super gorgeous, Angela Bright, a Management Consultant in Washington who had the courage to pursue a dream and take a risk. Her journey struck a chord with me as I am always inspired by intelligent women who are not afraid to take chances in life.
Photo courtesy of Neon Paws
Photo courtesy of Tinacious Me
If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember that fabulous camo clutch I’ve been rocking around town, which was part of last season’s Gigee Marie collection. Since receiving my bag, which I absolutely die for, Bright has created a new collection and has also expanded her product offering to include fun jewelry accessories – bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings.
The designer, Angela Bright, showcasing her pieces at a DC event
I got a chance to interview the 28 year old designer, who was born and raised outside of Philly but currently resides in DC and chat about how the Gigee Marie brand was created, the story behind the name, what inspires her and where she sees the future of the company…
SS: When did you decide to create Gigee Marie and what was the catalyst behind the decision?
AB: I started creating Gigee Marie back in the Fall of 2011. I didn’t originally set out to start a business making clutches specifically though. At that time, I had just bought a sewing machine with the intentions of doing small fixes (i.e. sewing on bottoms, hems, etc.) But then I began experimenting and seeing what else I could make. I started off making small pouches and that idea evolved into making clutches. At the same time, I had been wanting to start my own business for a while but none of the ideas that I had previously come up with really stuck. A light bulb went off and I combined my clutch creations with the idea of starting a business, and Gigee Marie was born 🙂
SS: What was your career in prior to starting this business venture?
AB:I was working as a marketing specialist/consultant, which I still continue to do as my 9-5 job. However, the ultimate goal is to grow Gigee Marie to a point where I can quit my day job…hopefully before I’m 30 *fingers crossed!*
SS: And as for the name “Gigee Marie”…it’s so cute. What is the back story behind the name of the collection?
AB: The nickname came about when my little [at the time] cousin first began talking and he couldn’t say my name. When he tried, it sounded like he was saying “Gigi” and the name just stuck. The reason I spell it “Gigee” is because back in the days of AOL screen names, I wanted to use “Gigi” as my screen name but it was taken, so I decided to change the spelling. Marie is my middle name. I put the two together and thought it had a cute little ring to it [giggles].
SS: Although your brand is still relatively new, I heard about you all the way in Canada…so you must be doing something right! What has been your Marketing strategy to help increase brand awareness and get your name out there?
AB: Since I am a marketing specialist by trade, I love this question [laughs]. First, it really starts with what you don’t see that goes on behind the scenes — the constant research and outreach that I put in to find potential opportunities to get my brand out there. I really do try to be strategic with my marketing though. I try to make sure my efforts are planned, in line with my brand, and integrated if possible. Staying engaged in social media has been a big part of my marketing strategy, as well as events. I try to make an effort to participate in events at least once every other month, whether I’m actually selling my pieces or just contributing promo cards to the gift bags. When I do get to sell my pieces at events, I have the opportunity to connect face-to-face with customers and potential customers. I think that really helps people connect to Gigee Marie by putting a face/personality behind my brand. In addition, networking has been very beneficial, and leveraging those relationships. And you can never go wrong with good old fashion word of mouth.
SS: Is there anything in particular that inspired your last collection? And any specific inspiration for your next one?
AB: When creating a collection, I try to incorporate some of my favorite trends at that time. This past Fall/Winter, I loved the Camo trend and the Sapphire (Cobalt) Blue trend so I incorporated those into my collection. Ikat print and Tangerine orange were also big last Summer, so I played off those trends as well. For my next collection, you’ll see a lot of sparkle and jewel tone colors like Emerald (Pantone’s color of 2013). I also try to always include a few neutral/muted pieces for the woman who likes colors that are a bit more toned down. Ultimately, I want my collections to be a reflection of me and my style, in hopes that there are other women out there who can relate.
SS: Where do you see Gigee Marie in the future? Any thoughts on expanding and creating totes, satchels, duffel bags, etc?
AB: I want Gigee Marie to be an accessories brand, carrying not only clutches, but larger handbags, jewelry, scarves, etc. I think the clutches were a good start to get the business going, but I’d eventually like to get to a point where I have someone else focusing on the production part (i.e. actually making the bags) so that I can focus on the business side.
Sticking to her goals for 2013, Bright just recently launched some adorable jewelry pieces to her website within the last couple of weeks that is cute for both day and night. Here’s a sneak peak at what you will find on her site…
To view the full collection and to access Angela’s blog (Behind The Seams), head over to www.gigeemarie.com and don’t forget to get “social” and follow her on Instagram and on Twitter. If you are looking for something extra special…Gigee Marie also does custom orders!!!