Krasimira Georgieva and Kamola Taflan, like many smart women who started out in finance (exhibit A, exhibit B), decided to dive into fashion as entrepreneurs. The eastern European designers first met in college and have been living the American dream ever since. Their new line of handbags, Kristina George, ranges from $330 to $780 and is handcrafted in Istanbul. They filled us in on their new venture.
How did you meet?
I am from Bulgaria and Kamola is from Uzbekistan. We met in college 15 years ago and immediately felt a strong connection as we both shared similar cultures and upbringings. We have been best friends since then, so it was natural for us to start collaborating on our first designs.
You were both in finance before venturing into fashion. What was the learning curve like?
Yes, both of us have had successful careers in the investment management and banking industry. It took us two years to design and manufacture our debut collection. Every step of the process entailed extensive research and traveling. We were determined to find the highest quality materials that are ethically sourced and manufactured.
How did you find your first factory to produce your bags?
We did extensive research on factories, spoke to dozens of them and visited several to ensure they follow high ethical standards and produced high-quality items before making a final decision. We work with a family-owned atelier in Istanbul, known for its proud tradition of producing leather handbags and accessories with the finest handcrafted details. They employ certified artisans who work under excellent conditions.
What was your vision when you founded the brand?
Our vision was to create timeless, luxurious, and bold handbags with superior quality. We wanted to create distinctive designs that were also practical and versatile. We are catering to the modern woman who views fashion as part of her life. She knows that a functional and unique bag would be an integral part of her daily life and will also enhance her look.
Is the handbag category hard to break into?
The fashion industry as a whole is oversaturated and it is challenging for emerging designers to break into. In today’s world, having innovative designs and excellent quality is not enough. Brand recognition is key and we have been working tirelessly to establish our name. Providing interesting and creative media content and growing our followers and customer base have been of utmost importance.
What is your best-seller?
Our best-seller is the Izabelle top-handle [below]—its classic style and innovative design have drawn customers from around the world. The three-dimensional prisms on the front are hand-carved and covered with a thin layer of leather.
Where are your bags sold? Who is your biggest retailer?
We are selling our bags at high-end boutiques and online retailers. Our biggest retailers at the moment are boutiques in Philadelphia and Orlando, FL, including Per Lei, Skirt, and Tuni, to name a few.
How do you envision growing the business?
We’ve started working on new designs and plan on adding more colorways to some of the existing models. During our launch year, we’ve gathered invaluable feedback from customers, buyers, and influencers, which is helping us tremendously with the evolution of our brand.