Hester Van Eeghen: Handbags, Passion, & Midlife Inspiration!
From concept to creation, luxury handbags from designer Hester Van Eeghen are not just practical pieces or trendy fashion accessories, but individual works of art. With a craftsman’s eye for detail and an artists joy in creation, passionate and focused, Van Eeghen is solidly in the realm of highly respected and sought-after designers, with a personal and professional profile that is a stunning representation of what today’s successful baby boomer women look like!
Q.: Your handbag designs are among some of the most sought-after in the world! What inspires your design decisions?
A.: My senses are always active. Wherever I am I transform reality impressions into an object. So a tea cosi in its bold shape was discovered by my eyes and I made an elegant purse out of that, just by changing fittings, shape and colours.(The story behind the Bon Bon). A 17th century cupboard painting in the Rijksmuseum with its sublime openings, inspired me to create a working bag with all its doors, extensions and hidden compartments (the Tryptich bag). Sitting on the highest mountain with the view of all the different down hill slopes inspired me to make a wallet with all compartments in diagonal lines and in different colours. (the Diagonal Wallet).
But the behavior of people can inspire as well, like when I saw a harried woman in the bus trying to find her ticket and not being able to because of the huge size of her bag, I imagined the perfect organized purse so that life becomes light and easy for her! (the Amazone purse with 11 compartments). So this constant awareness helps me to create and always have ideas!
Q. You began as a sole proprietorship creating bags one at a time in a small shop…what has it been like to progress from artist/craftsperson to leader of a renowned fashion enterprise?
A. I never made a business plan. I have been on the flow of designing since it became clear that I was spending most of my time in my workplace. Although interested in many aspects of life, it was an organic growth from doing that into thinking about prices, employees, shops and wholesale and so it seemed to be a natural staircase of a step by step business. Of course, I realized in time that I needed more talented people to stabilize a list of processes we needed in order to become an inventive, exciting and reliable company. I was very lucky to have found them! Of course I have to carefully protect my ‘playing in the workshop times’ in order to work out new design ideas. My house with its workshop on the third floor allows me to do that even at night!
Q. With the pressure and expectations that result from having as much success as you have received within your industry and your craft, is it still fun?
A. Oh yes!! This combination of creativity, entrepreneurship and curiosity helps me to always find new materials, producers and items to make. So actually when I look back, on the moment I might have thought it wasn’t that fun anymore, I seem to be attracted to a range of new products, all inspiring! From wallets I grew into purses, into working bags for women, gloves for women then for men, shoes for women and for men and babies, until bracelets and scarfs……so where does it end?
Q. Your handbags and shoes are upscale, trendy and sophisticated… are you finding that more 50+ women are shopping these smart and contemporary styles than used to?
A. We did research on the profile of the people who buy my designs. It turns out to be an independent person (man or woman), a free thinker, internationally oriented, awareness of art and quality, with a sense of humor, and eyes for detail.
Most young people are only focused on trends in fashion. Although always using fashion colours, my designs turn out to be more ‘timeless’, sold ın fashion shops as well in design and interior shops and this is why I sometimes can easily continue a model for more than a few years. That appeals to the independent and therefore more mature people. My client is usually in between 30 and 65 years old, but as mentioned, it is not as much age as it is a certain personality that is attracted to my practical but unpredictable designs. Younger people start with little items and often grow into the bigger items.
Q. You’ve been the preeminent leader in this dynamic, trendy fashion accessory industry for so long…how do you stay enthusiastic and inspired? What comes next for you?
A. Oooh there are many wishes, but I live IN the moment! I let things happen when it is the right moment. I do know that in between having a design and having conquered all the production process it takes a long time so I do not dare to pronounce what the next thing will be, but I promise you new products are waiting to be presented!
Q. Of all the pieces you’ve designed over the years, which was your favorite?
A. How can you ask a mother which child she loves the most? My designs are always made with a purpose, with a certain ‘user’ in mind, so I am attached to them all. When I look at all the items in my shop, I feel tremendously balanced and happy.
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