Two years ago while on the hunt for the perfect timeless handbag, Lana Hopkins identified the gap in the market for beautiful, high quality leather accessories at an affordable price. Two years later, her business Mon Purse is bigger than ever.
Having just launched a range in collaboration with Laura Brown, the Editor in Chief of US InStyle magazine, Lana chatted to us about how she made it big seemingly overnight…
Myer: What were you doing before Mon Purse?
Lana Hopkins: After high school, I studied International Business and Marketing at the University of Technology Sydney, I now sit on the board of my alma mater; an institution I greatly admire for its progressive approach to education, especially technology.
I came from a media background and I worked in magazine ad sales at News Ltd. I was also part of another startup as Marketing and Sales Director prior to founding Mon Purse, and this invaluable experience paved the way for Mon Purse.
M: How did the idea of Mon Purse come about?
LH: The ability to make a real difference in the world has always been the driving force behind my ambition. I saw a gap in the luxury leather bag market. I realised that I simply spent far too many hours pounding the pavement, looking for the perfect handbag. I wanted to solve this personal problem – the ability to have the perfect handbag, with the leather, hardware, lining and size that I wanted, to suit my personal style. I wanted it to smell, feel and look premium and luxurious (made in Europe) without the astronomical price tag. And I wanted the unforgettable experience of actually designing my perfect bag online.
I had a vision: to create an elegant, state of the art bag builder, and then follow this up with high quality, customisable and bespoke creations, delivered to your door. So, during 2014, I travelled the world looking for the best tanneries and ateliers, we hand selected quality leathers and raw materials, and employed incredibly skilled craftsmen. I also found some great software engineers to turn our vision into reality.
M: Tell us about the technology behind the production of your bags?
LH: Using our own technology, our customer can create their desired handbag, customise the leathers, colours, finishes, interior, monogram and immediately see what the final product will look like through 3D rendering. We started out with 17 million design combinations and now have 6 billion, with more to follow. For the website we use “best in class” software that offers a high degree of customisability to have full control over the design and user experience of our customers to match our vision and strategy. All our leather goods are created by ateliers in Europe using fine luxury leather, and then shipped direct to your doorstep. We’ve built an authentic, high quality brand, where our customers tell us what they want. There are no other handbag brands globally within the affordable luxury market space who manufacture premium quality handbags in Europe, let alone handbags crafted, tanned and cut for a specific individual. For you.
M: What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve overcome as a business owner?
LH: The challenge is to continue to offer people more personalised options in an easy and seamlessly integrated way. At the end of the day the idea of monogramming has been around for many hundreds of years. The consumer has changed and said they want the product to be more relevant to them. That may not be a monogram, it may be something we haven’t even thought of yet, but the concept of personalisation and making it available to the everyday consumer is essential to Mon Purse. The other challenge is to continue to evolve and design a product range that allows their personal traits to fit in with it.
M: Tell us about the collaboration with Laura Brown?
LH: Laura and I have a mutual friend, who said we had to meet. So, we did. Laura came to meet us at our flagship Paddington store in early 2016 and it was true love. We connected with this gracious, funny, smart, ridiculously talented and most of all down- to-earth lady on every level. From there creative ideas blossomed. Our team travelled between Sydney, Paris, New York, Istanbul and Florence to bring this dream to life. Laura was incredibly hands on and passionate about every aspect of the design process and the campaign shoot in New York with the best Aussie team was unforgettable. There are three bags in the range:
The Boss Lady – This North South Tote is the bag she grabs, bolting out the door to run errands, on her way out she tosses in all of her daily essentials.
The Girl on the Go – This Bucket Bag is stylish, and practical to take to everyday business meetings.
The Minx – This Evening Bag is the ultimate city essential, its cross body structure oozes street cool
M: What bag are you currently carrying?
LH: The Top Handle Bag in grainy black leather. It’s chic and adds elevated femininity to any outfit.
M: What advice would you give young people looking at starting their own business?
LH: Focus on one thing at a time and always back yourself. When it gets too hard, just keep going because that is when breakthroughs tend to happen. Additionally, nothing can be achieved without the support of an incredible team.
Mon Purse is available at Myer Melbourne City, Sydney City, Brisbane City, Adelaide City & Doncaster.
Left: Laura Brown carries the Mini Bucket Bag & model wears Mini Evening Bag both in maroon
Right: North South Tote in tan
The North South Tote in maroon
The North South Tote in Black
Left: The Mini Evening Bag in printed finish
Right: The Mini Bucket Bag in Black
The Mini Evening Bag in black