Tag Archives: handbag design

In a Clutch . . .


Boston Mini clutch + Mailer Envelope clutches | Ayanna Listenbee Raw Collection

When I was younger I never got excited about clutches. I always hated the idea of being forced to carry my bag in my hand. The option of having my hands free has always appealed to me + honestly it still does (which is why most of my handheld styles include a removable strap). However, I have really come to appreciate the beauty of a clutch in my latter years. I am drawn to minimalistic style, and clutches are a great way to channel a minimalist vibe. A clutch can really streamline your look. These days I own my share of clutches, and I love designing them. However, because big bags are where my heart lies, and typically, that’s what I am carrying most days, I have found that clutches and pouches are a great way to compartmentalize things in my bigger bags. Lately, I’ve been working on a new collection of raw edged clutches and pouches. My love of texture and simplicity has lead me to keep a lot of these styles raw, letting the beauty of the leather and minimal hardware speak for itself. I’ll be adding these new clutches + pouches to the shop soon. Stay tuned!

::UPDATE:: Raw Collection now available here.



Ayanna Listenbee Collection @ All That and More Boutique . . .

Ayanna Listenbee Collection can now be found @ All That & More Boutique . . .

Ayanna Listenbee Collection can now be found @ All That & More Boutique . . .

Last week was pretty amazing for me. I accomplished two major milestones. I am learning everyday to celebrate the small stuff right along with the so called big stuff. Honestly, I think it’s all big when you accomplish something that was hard, or that you didn’t know you could do. My first milestone was that I started working out again. It’s been way too long and I was ready. Ready to feel stronger, healthier and better about this body God has blessed me with. Last Friday made a full 2 weeks of working out. It may seem small, but it’s huge to me. Especially since I have never been athletic or even liked to play sports. (Don’t ask me how I ended up on the girls basketball team in high school. It only lasted a few weeks, until one of my team mates went up for a jump shot, landed on my toe and broke it . . . she actually broke two of them)  But I digress . . . the point is I completed two weeks of gym workouts and I am pumped!! Im excited about it and somehow it is working for me, so I feel good about it, and mentioning it here gives me some accountability as well. ;)

Candance Simmons + I  . . .

Candance Simmons, owner of ALL THAT & MORE boutique + I  with some bags from my collection . . .

The second major accomplishment, which I am really excited to share with you, was partnering with the first retail account to carry my handbag collection! As of last week, SoCal locals can now purchase pieces from my collection at ALL THAT & MORE BOUTIQUE in Culver City. I’m super excited about this partnership because it is the answer to hard work and prayer on so many levels. It’s amazing to see my bags in a store setting, and to witness customers oogling and inquiring about them. It’s also good to be able to get feedback from customers. But I think what I am most happy about is meeting Candance Simmons, the owner of All That & More. Aside from the fact that her boutique carries some really amazing clothing and accessories, Candance is an angel in disguise. She has blessed me with so much valuable information from a mentor standpoint, that being a featured designer in her boutique is like icing on the cake!

Renaissance Convertible Clutches + The St. Francis Clutch getting ready to hit the floor . . .

Renaissance Convertible Clutches + The St. Francis Clutch getting ready to hit the floor . . .

If you are local or have the opportunity, please visit AT&M and check out some of the beautiful clothing and accessories offered. I know you will not be disappointed! #shopsmall + Support Indie Boutiques!!

10754 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230



#designfail | That Time I Made a REALLY Ugly Bag . . .

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY I recently cleaned out my black hole of a closet and discovered one of the ugliest handbags in the history of all bagdom.

And I made it.

For all intents and purposes, we’ll call her Gertrude. It’s only right to give her a proper name. After all, I designed her, created her patterns, sourced her materials, hardware and sewed her for the final project in my accessories design class. Luckily, I got an A in the class, and somehow, an A on the project Gertrude,  but when it was all said + done, I was not feeling the end result  “Old Gert.”

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY

Here’s Gert up close and personal. That detailed stitching you see on the leather pieces did NOT come out as I envisioned. Believe it or not, I was NOT going for the Rodeo Cowboy effect, but apparently . . . . #nuffsaid

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY

This is Gert’s backside. She’s kinda wide. I wanted her to be able to carry tons of stuff, and she can. She is a workhorse, Ill give her that . . .

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY

Gert is full of surprises! She is actually reversible!

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY

At one point I even convinced myself that Gert’s inside was her better (looking) side. And that, in actuality, this was my design plan all along . . . hah!

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY

I thought the frayed denim edges would give her, well . . . a little edge . . instead it just made her look like she should be sold with a pair of cowboy boots . . .

That’s how I felt. I mean Gert looked great in the original sketch. On paper she was more like a “Rebecca,” or a “Jocelyn.” At the time I selected her leather and denim, I thought she’d look cool. I wanted her to be daring + useful, so I decided to make her reversible. I even decided to keep some of the denim edges frayed as a testament to her coolness. I envisioned her a real downtown-urban-cool-girl-tote. But by the time I was finished . . . and frankly, even before I finished, I could tell the physical manifestation of Gert left a lot to be desired.

My downtown-urban-cool-girl-tote looked more like
an old-back-woods-rodeo-satchel with a zipper.

Yet and still, if I wanted to pass the class, I had to turn “Old Gert” in. Truthfully, by the time I finished sewing, glueing and hammering all her pieces together (which happened to be 4:30 am the morning the project was due) I was glad to be done with it her. At that point, I had gone through two sewing machines and had ended up at my ex next door neighbor’s house, practically spending the night on her floor, so I could use her sewing machine to finish the project. My machine broke and basically died during a crucial point in the project, so I borrowed my Mom’s. Well, then her machine broke and I was left with no machine and only a few hours left to complete the project. So I called my friend Jessica who now lived about 40 miles away. She was gracious enough to let me come over and sew away to my heart’s content. She even helped me when Gertie’s leather and denim became too thick for the machine. Thank God for Jessica. She basically saved my life in that moment. At certain points I had to hand sew Gertie’s denim and leather together with a really thick needle and thread. Naturally, during this process, my thimble came up missing, so at 4am, I’m sitting on Jessica’s dining room floor with a wad of paper towels taped around my sore thumb while gingerly trying to pierce a stack of denim, leather + facing approximately 1 1/2″ thick. True leather craftsmen have all kinds of shavers, clamps and hammers for this type of situation, but little old undergrad moi, only had a couple of binder clips, my sewing needle and a roll of paper towels at my disposal. Nevertheless, I completed the project, and was greatly rewarded for my efforts by passing the class with flying colors.

She's ready for her close up . . . just don't get too close . . .

She’s ready for her close up . . . just don’t get too close . . .

So last week when I came across the ugliest bag in the world,  I mean Gertrude, cringing in the far back corner of my closet I had to stop and chuckle to myself. Yes, she was still ugly. But she was still standing strong! No rips, tears or ungluing had taken place in the 8+ years since she was conceived. And during most of this time, she had taken up residence in my closet . . .

Now, you may think that’s a safe place for a bag to reside. And maybe most closets are.
But not mine.

Any item of clothing residing in my closet is liable to take a serious beating. I’ve briefly discussed the horrors of the inner workings of my closet before. At any given moment a shoe, boot or belt could decide it’s “had enough of all this fighting for space” and pounce. I speak from experience. There’s been many a time I’ve opened my closet and been met with a boot to the head. (that’s the trouble with storing way too many shoes on a shelf above your head in a shallow, crowded closet) . . . it’s an “Enter at Your Own Risk” type of situation. Yet, despite her surroundings, Gertrude managed to survive in tact.

I’m not so sure about her dignity though.

There was that time I found her huddled amongst my favorite hi tops . . . (perhaps for the sake of protection) and pulled her out in an act of “reconsideration of her ugliness,” or to put it nicely, I thought I would give her a second chance. Maybe she wasn’t as ugly as I’d thought she was. Surely she could pay her way by acting as a large beach tote? I mean she was huge, and could hold a lot of stuff. That was probably her only redeeming quality . . . and her only outing. I think she enjoyed the beach. She still has a few sand grains in her pockets to prove it. Probably snuck them back home as proof to the other bags that she was good enough to hit the beach, and I guess she was right! She went, and they didn’t!

That Time I Made a Really Ugly Bag | THE LOOKBOOK PHILOSOPHY

I thought about throwing “Old Gert” away, but only for a second. She has a special place in my heart. She is the product of hours upon hours of labor, possibly a tear or two, most definitely a right hand full of sore fingers + a mind full of lessons learned. Birthing her taught me what it takes to actually make a large leather bag. She showed me the painstaking error of my ways when I rushed and thought I could wing it without the proper tools. She got me where I am today. So although Gertrude may not be the prettiest bag on the shelf, she definitely has earned her place on the shelf.

Do you have any #designfail’s hiding in your closet? ☺ 


The Design Process: My Accessories Design Final Project

Modern Masai Tote by Ayanna Listenbee Handbags

A few weeks back I mentioned that I was ensconced in preparations and projects for finals. In my design class we were asked to come up with a theme, and then design a collection based on that theme. My theme was based on the Masai tribe of Kenya. Once the collection was designed, we were asked to select one style from the collection and then create that item ourselves. I selected the tote bag I designed for the collection. Unfortunately, I sold my industrial sewing machines a few years back. I have not sewn a bag in over 6 years so I underestimated what it would take to sew leather and denim on a (borrowed) home sewing machine! It took me about four days to draft and create the patterns (working feverishly while the kids were at school and at night when they were in bed) and another two days to complete the construction and sewing of the bag. My borrowed machine died and I had to borrow ANOTHER machine to complete the task. As hard and frustrating as it was at times, it was a great exercise and provided a wonderful sense of accomplishment. I plan to incorporate the design into the new line. To see more of the design process check out the pics below. . .

Modern Masai Mood Board

Modern Masai Croqui & Sketch

Masai Tote Details

Design Process

Construction Process


Are there any ideas in your head that you can make a reality in the coming new year?

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