The Disruptive (Mon) Purse
Two years ago and after countless hours of futile searching, Lana Hopkins concluded that her version of the perfect handbag did not exist. In her eyes, none of the designer handbags she had seen matched her expectations closely enough to justify its premium price tag.
After all, it was not mere luxury she was after, but a bag that was a unique expression of herself and one she would adore. It seemed that the only way she was going to get that perfect bag was if she created it herself. As soon as that idea sparked, she knew there was no turning back.
“I realised that if women could design their own luxury pair of shoes, then there had to be a way for them to also create their own bespoke handbags,” Lana says. “Mon Purse was born from the belief that every woman should only carry a handbag she truly loves.”
She headed to Istanbul where she tapped into her local connections for a foot into the city’s leather industry. Launched in October last year, Mon Purse very quickly found itself riding the unceasing wave of demand for custom-designed luxury merchandise.
woman with drive spoke to Lana for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her world of bespoke.
You call yourself a disrupter. What does that mean to you and was it a conscious decision to be one?
Disruption uproots and changes how we behave and do things. Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru, Clayton Christensen, says that a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new, more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.
My goal in being a disrupter was always to solve a problem I personally faced. In the case of Mon Purse, it was to give women the opportunity to design a one-of-a-kind premium, quality handbag and deliver that to them.
What was your biggest financial challenge and how did you tackle it?
It was developing a minimum viable product (MVP), and testing if the market really wanted a custom-designed handbag. We also put together a team of great software engineers to turn our vision into reality. To make this financially possible we had to raise capital and initially operate on minimal resources.
When your business model challenges the traditional rules of manufacturing, how do you present your vision in a way that secures a manufacturer’s buy-in?
It all comes down to relationships. We spoke to numerous manufacturers and were lucky to find one who understood the concept and wanted to cooperate. Most manufactures will never agree to this business model as they are used to mass production. You really need to build relationships and trust in order to sell people an idea. This is the hardest part.
Have you ever set your heart on a concept or a strategy but had to let it go because it just wasn’t working out?
All the time! Most successful startups are nimble and able to pivot. There are no known facts when you are disrupting an industry so you have to always listen to your customers and evolve accordingly.
For a business based on customised products, your target market is everyone. But what did you need to understand about this mass market in order to hit the nail on the head?
We were out in the market from day one running focus groups that helped us identify our target market. The key is to get as much feedback as possible during the development and MVP stage.
Mon Purse is exclusively offering 20% off its black calf leather pouch for woman with drive readers. The offer is valid from July 3 – 24. Go here and use the WWD promotion code to get your custom-designed bag.
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