The First 3 Purses That Inspired This Endeavor

Please note that the following handbags represent first prototypes and serious blunders. This blog documents our trials and errors and tracks our progress from inexperienced start-up to launching the Taryn Zhang brand. Please bear that in mind as you look through these photos and illustrations.

“The Opera Singer”

July 29, 2009.

I’m in New York, back at my parents’ home. It’s a few days after the bar exam and I finally locate fabric, needle, and thread. Without any template or even any conception of what the final product would look like, I take a purple piece of upholstery fabric and start folding, cutting, and sewing. My sister Tansy is on her baby grand piano playing Beethoven the whole time I make The Opera Singer.

I figure pleats might be nice. Only after I start do I realize how difficult it is to sew pleats, especially without a ruler. I eyeball the whole thing. And it’s self-evident that I eyeballed the whole thing. From afar, the purple thing looks okay. Up close, the seams are a mess.

“The Witch”

July 31, 2009.

I try the purse-making thing again, this time with green upholstery I found in the back of a cabinet in my parents’ living room. The cloth is maybe a decade old, leftovers from when my father repaired the seat cushions on our dining room chairs. See the photo of a chair above.

I decide to call this one The Witch because when my sister Cindy saw it, she said, “Ew, why is it wicked-witch-of-the-west green?” And from then on, that imagery stuck with me.

“The Courtesan”

August 2, 2009.

Back home in California. I make this black clutch. Note that up to now, none of these things have handles, because I don’t know how to sew handles (or shoulder straps). I mean, I conceive of how I could theoretically sew handles, but my attempts at execution come out silly, nothing remotely handle-like.

This black one has a courtesan quality to it, like I even know what that means. Like something can really have a “courtesan quality” to it. If something could have a “courtesan quality” to it, then this clutch would be one such somethings.

Clearly none of these, not The Opera Singer, The Witch, or The Courtesan are for sale. Because they’re unmarketable.

I’ve put both The Opera Singer and The Courtesan in storage, probably never to be seen again, because they’re blah, but I occasionally use The Witch, adorned with a pretty gemstone pin I bought. See below.

After making these handbags (by hand; look Ma, no sewing machine, not yet, because at this time I hadn’t learned how to use one yet), I thought maybe I could teach myself enough about making these things to start a small business. Handbags and accessories. Of course my full concentration right now is on handbags, since I can hardly master that, but in the future, I hope to branch out into silk scarves. Textile design seems quite interesting to me. And who knows what else.

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