Archive for May, 2011

Last Day of May Update

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Hard to believe today is the last day of May.  Mostly because it means tomorrow is June and JUNE is the month I’m launching the bags.  Holy Toledo!

As with any launch, there’s a ton going on.  Here’s my current laundry list.

  • Video – I need to send over my changes and get edited video back.  Then I need to decide where the video will live on the website or the blog.
  • Photos – I need to make the final edits and get them over to the website designer.  One photo is missing and I need to decide whether or not to just leave it out or do a re-shoot.
  • PR Plan – I’m about 1/3 of the way through the PR plan.  It would really, REALLY help if I had a firm launch date, but until the bags make it through customs I won’t have one.
  • Customs –  I need to double-check and make sure I have all my i’s crossed and t’s dotted.  Or something like that.
  • Shipping – Still working on final shipping costs.  How much to charge, what scenarios, etc.  Do you want overnight shipping?
  • Wait List Email – Need to craft the email that will go out to everyone on the Wait List and decide exactly what day it will go out.  Before the real launch, of course!
  • New Head Shots – Thinking I need new head shots featuring the bag.  Actually, I KNOW I do, but I’m not sure I want to pay for them.  Poop.
  • Re-Order – WHEN the bags sell out I’ll need to quickly place the next order so I can get them in time for the holiday shopping season.  I’m working with China to nail down timing and pricing.
  • Website – The site is getting closer and closer to being finished.  I need to draw a line in the sand so we can beta launch.
  • Party – Have to finalize the guest list for my extravagant launch party.  Party?  This is a start-up!  I’ll be raising a toast with my family and virtually with all of you.  Otherwise, any funds will go back into the business.
  • Spring 2012 – Speaking of growing the business I’m working on the Spring line.  Look for a few details tomorrow.
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Build-A-Burger

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Inspired by O the Oprah Magazine’s article “Something New Under the Bun” we had a Build-a-Burger meal this weekend.  Tasty!

Veggies - Alesya Bags

Bacon Burger - Alesya Bags

Burger Ketchup - Alesya Bags

Burger Open - Alesya Bags

Cut Burger  - Alesya Bags

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Diapers Vs. Laptops

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Believe it or not, I’ve had several requests for the “next bag” to be a diaper laptop bag.  (Really?  Really!) On the surface, it seems like an interesting and even good idea.  You need to take diapers on a trip, you need to take your laptop…why not take them both in one bag?

Photo via Laura Blodgett for AnnArbor.com

While back in Michigan I visited my favorite kid/baby store in the area – Elephant Ears.  That chic diaper bag everyone tells you is must-have?  They’ve got it.  The cute clothes you’ve only seen a catalog?   They have the whole line.  The high chairs you saw on the Real Housewives of New York?  It’s been a favorite for years.

Basically, they have everything you want.

While I was there I talked to the co-owner, Matt Cyrulnik (pictured with his wife and the other co-owner Jenna Cyrulnik above).  Had he heard of a diaper laptop bag?  Did he have one in the store?

“I wouldn’t do it,” he said.  Why?  ”We’ve had them and they don’t sell.”  But people tell me they want them!  ”People think they want them.  But you know what’s inside diapers?  That and electronics don’t mix.”

Ah-HA.  Well, that makes sense.

Which bring me to my next thought – the iPad.  There’s one person in my family who uses my iPad the most.  She’s pictured above, her favorite show is Dora and she likes short walks to the park.  You guessed it – my two-year-old daughter.

She’s totally taken over my iPad.  She knows how to record and watch videos of herself and how to call her Grandma and Grandpa on Facetime.  Her favorite app is the Elmo Monster Maker.  Even on the plane, she uses it with her panda headphones to watch movies.

You can see where this is going…

Are your children using your iPad?  Would you carry it in a diaper bag?  Does that even make sense?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Where ARE the Bags?!

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

“Where are the bags?  When are they coming?  When will the website launch?”

- Everyone I Know

OK, so those are all fair questions.  Let me tell you everything I know.

Q: Where are the bags?

A:  The bags are en route from Shanghai, to New York City on a cargo ship.  I thought they would be coming straight to Charleston, but it turns out they will be coming to NYC and then will come the rest of the way on a truck.

Q. When are the bags going to be here?  In Charleston?

A.  I was told the bags will be here June 21st.  Since this seems like a soft target, I’m hesitant to circle in my calendar in red with stars and exclamation points.

Q. When will your website launch?

A.  As you may have seen, alesyabags.com is a splash page with a link to this blog.  It used to just be a re-direct straight to the blog.  The splash page exists because the website in development.  I’ve even seen the first version!  We’re about 75% of the way there.

The website will launch when the bags are here.  I’ve heard some horror stories about shipments getting stuck in customs so I don’t want to launch the site and then have nothing to actually sell.

Hopefully, the site will launch at the end of June.  That being said, I won’t launch it if the bags aren’t in Charleston.

Q.  Are you losing your mind a little bit with all the waiting?

A.  OK, so no one actually asked me that.  But the waiting is difficult.  Especially since you pay for everything in the upfront.  That’s a lot of funds going out while none come in.  Makes a girl a wee bit on edge.

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Photo Shoot – A Preview

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Last Sunday was the first Alesya Bags photo shoot!  It’s for the first collection, which is technically Fall 2011.  What a complete dream it was to see the whole thing come together.  At one point I said “Wow, this all seems very real,” and my stylist shook me and said “Alesya, this is happening right now!  It IS real.”

I gathered all kinds of props to go with the bag.  Here’s a small sample of what I brought along.

Alesya Bags Photo Shoot

Alesya Bags Photo Shoot

Alesya Bags Photo Shoot

The lovely and talented Leslie Moore did the make-up.

Alesya Bags Photo Shoot

There are so many amazing backdrops in Charleston.

Alesya Bags Photo Shoot

We even had some people watch to see what was going on…a future entrepreneur in the making perhaps?

Alesya Bags Photo Shoot

Charlotte is working on the editing this week. Can’t wait to see how the photos look on the website! I think you’re going to like them.

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Charlie Features Alesya Bags

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

My first piece of press came out on Friday! Huge thanks to Kinsey Gidick of Charleston’s Charlie Magazine for reaching out to me after reading the blog.

I though Kinsey “got me” during the interview, but that suspicion was confirmed when I read the opening paragraph to the article:

Plenty of business women have experienced it. That moment of pure frustration when, clad in stilettos, a crisp suit and button down shirt, you have to heave a bulking canvas laptop messenger bag across your chest. Suddenly your suit is rumpled, your shirt is bursting its buttons and you’re slouching from the weight of the hefty bag. It hardly says “I’ve come prepared.”

Photographer Jolie Conner took some detail shots of the bag, so if you’d like a sneak peek, here’s your chance!  The magazine also kindly included my Twitter headshot taken by Charlotte Elizabeth Photographer.

Special thanks to publisher Caroline Nuttall for bringing such a beautifully designed publication to the Low Country.  I’m honored to be included.

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Purse Auction: The Results

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Jenima - Center for Women Purse Auction - Alesya BagsFriday was the Center for Women Purse Auction.  It was a big night for me – the first bag was not only making its public debut, but it was being auctioned off as part of a package.

The event started with a silent auction on over 100 bags done by local artists and designers.  I bid on – and won! – two.  The first one is pictured above and below.  It’s from blogger and seamstress Jenima Hadjian of Sewcial.  She’s also wearing one of her own creations in the photo below.

Jenima Hadjian - Alesya Bags

The second bag I won was from designer Anne Trabue Watson.  I think it’s going to be a fab day bag for all my lunch dates downtown.  I especially liked the pattern.

Anne Trabue Watson - Center for Women Purse Auction - Alesya Bags

While I was mingling, I had talk to the man with the blue hair.  Turns out he’s local stylist and Dancing with the Stars contestant Jeffery Rhodes.  Photographer Jeni Rone took a picture of us and his date William.  Jeni’s purse is also pictured below.

Center for Women Purse Auction - Alesya Bags

Jeni Rone - Center for Women Purse Auction - Alesya Bags

Then came the live auction.  My husband and good friend Charlotte came for moral support.  The Center for Women’s Executive Director Jennet Robinson Alterman started introducing the packages and taking live bids.

My package came up about 3rd to last.  Surprisingly, Jennet called me up on stage and introduced me to the group (pictured below).  She also had me explain what kind of bag it was.  When the volunteer showing the Alesya Bag couldn’t find the laptop section I took the bag and demonstrated it myself.  When I opened it up people actually “ooohhhed and ahhheed”!

Alesya Opelt and Jennet Robinson Alterman - Alesya Bags

When the bidding started about 20 hands went up in the air!  It ended up coming down to two people.  One of them was my friend and realtor, Brenda Piaskowski.  She really wanted to have the first bag and I was completely floored by her support.  (Besides being an amazing friend, Brenda is a terrific realtor.  We recommend to everyone in the Charleston area.)

Center for Women Purse Auction - Alesya Bags

But Brenda didn’t win.  The winner was the petite woman on the left hand side of the photo above.  She has her arm half way up in the air and is wearing a black dress with white buttons.  Here winning bid was $1400!  It was the highest bid of the night for any package.

Writer Angie Mizzell summed it up best on her blog:

A package including a Saluda mountain getaway and a to-die-for laptop bag created by local designer Alesya Opelt sold for more than its $1,000 value. If you saw this bag, you’d understand. Women actually squealed.

My one regret from the evening was that I didn’t get to meet and thank the winner.  If you know this woman, could you please let her know I’m trying to get in contact with her?  I’d love to send her a thank-you note for her generous donation.

All in all it was a very, very successful debut.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support such a worthy cause.  Hope to see you again next year.

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The Total Package

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Orange Bicycle - Alesya Bags

Yesterday started out on bike as I rode through the South of Broad neighborhood in Charleston with my photographer Charlotte (pictured below).  She’s a big bike rider, while I haven’t been on a bike in several years.  There were some “oh crap, I’m going to run into that car!” moments, but luckily no cars, humans or bicycles were injured.

Charlotte Elizabeth on Bike - Alesya Bags

Charlotte took me around to see the locations she’d scouted for our photo shoot on Sunday.  Now it’s my job to narrow it down to three spots.  Here are a few of the ideas:

Stairs - Alesya Bags

Door Knob - Alesya Bags

Orange Wall - Alesya Bags

Charleston House - Alesya Bags

And while this “location” won’t make the final cut, I thought this was one of the nicest signs “like this” I’d ever seen.

Scoop the Poop - Alesya Bags

I made it back to my car in one piece and then it was off to Stitch to see my boxes and to chat about the website.  I got the first version this week and there were a few goofy things.  Namely, it was difficult to buy the bag.  Um…that’s not going to work!   We discussed some changes and I’m looking forward to seeing the revised site.

Alesya Bag Boxes

From there I went to my warehouse to see all the boxes and get one for the Purse Auction.  It’s kind of crazy to see five palettes of boxes with your name on them.   But there they were, just waiting for bags

Robert Davis (my shipping expert) and I also discussed FedEx rates.  I want to give my customers the best rates and as many options as possible.  We’re working to make that happen.

From there, I went back downtown to the Waterfront Gallery (pictured above via VisitSouth.com) to drop off the bag, the dust bag and the box for the Purse Auction tonight.  It really felt like a big moment to have one whole package put together.

I’ve got a lot going on the next couple of days…auction tonight, photo shoot on Sunday and video shoot on Monday.  That can only mean one thing:  This bag project of mine is really coming together.

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What a Day!

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

I’ve been going, going, going ALL day!  Scouted locations for the photo shoot, looked at the boxes, made first round changes to the website and delivered the first bag to the Purse Auction.  Whew!  Look for a longer update tonight, but that’s the short story.

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Purse Auction Bag is Here!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Alesya Bags The bag for the Center for Women Purse Auction made it!  It arrived today.  I’ll be delivering it down to the gallery on Thursday.

The Alesya Bag will be auctioned off as part of a “Beat the Heat” package that will also include:

  • A Saluda Mountain Getaway
  • $100 Gift Certificate to the Rickborn Salon
  • Charleston Show Company Gift Certificate
  • $25 Gift Certificate to Square Onion
  • A Tabula Rasa Salon Haircut & Style

Hope you can come to down to the auction and take a look at all the bags.  Here’s a sneak peek of all the silent auction bags from the Center for Women:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJWOBrN81no&w=425&h=349]

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