Slainte Bags at Home in Sacramento

By Jill Bornemann

You never know what is lurking behind a garage door in Sacramento. In a quiet neighborhood with more kids, dogs and minivans that you can shake a stick at, lurks the home office and studio of Slainte Bags.

Slainte Bags is an accessories company that is best known for its funky and functional messenger bags, diaper bags, hobos, purses and totes. I founded it seven years ago in San Francisco, shortly after the dotcom crash.

Although I had absolutely no knowledge of pattern design, fabric, merchandising, stock rotation, retail sales, buying calendars, pricing or marketing I took a leap and decided to start my own business. Blind luck, hard work and picking herself up after my many mistakes has lead to Slainte Bags’ success. There are over 100 stores nationally that sell the Line (internationally if you want to include a boutique in my native city of Dublin, Ireland) as well as a thriving purse party network and online store.

I moved from San Francisco to Sacramento’s River Park thanks to my husband’s job and a need for a good public school for our daughter. This means putting around 20,000 miles a year on my car driving back and forth to the city. I cherish the days in my home studio where I can be most creative.

There is no formula behind what fabrics or patterns I choose for my bags – if we see a fabric that makes me giddy, I’ll include it in the collection. As for the style and pattern of the bags, it is all down to what I need and carry. I am my own target customer; a busy multi-tasker that has a hundred balls in the air at any one time. I need a bag that can categorize my life with pockets and pouches, can hold a lot of weight, is comfortable to carry and makes me look put together even though I have been wearing the same t-shirt for three days.

Despite the lure of overseas production and out-sourcing, Slainte Bags continues to be designed in Sacramento and made in San Francisco. I feel this decision played well for me during the recession. Women will always buy bags and these days, my customers are particular about what they are spending their money on. They not only want a bag to carry, they want a cause to support. When people buy my bags, they know they are supporting a company that hires local labor, sources materials from local suppliers, uses recycled materials and has a zero-waste policy. Buying a Slainte Bags is investing in our community.

So how do you get your hands on one of these bags? Fleet Feet Outdoors on J Street and Firefly Salon on H Street both carry the line. You can check out the website or contact me at jbornemann AT yoga-bags DOT com for a tour of the River Park studio and an opportunity to pick up a bag “fresh off the sewing machine” at a fraction of the retail price. The Annual Holiday Trunk Show is on Friday 3rd December at my home and includes not only bags, jewelry and t-shirts, but plenty of wine too. Email me and let me know if you would like an invitation!

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2 Comments

  1. Julie Browne says

    I first discovered these bags in the city – delighted to see that they are available now in Sac. I bought my first one seven years ago and it is still going strong!

  2. Stephanie Eickmeyer says

    Hello Jill, I got your email via my BlackBerry this afternoon. Looking for a great gift for Mother’s Day and this fit the bill — I also had to buy one for myself. Glad to support a local company and a fellow parent in the River Park neighborhood. Love these bags – I have seen mothers wearing them around the Caleb Greenwood campus and now I am glad to have one on the way! Thanks so much – Stephanie Eickmeyer

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