Earlier this fall, I attended Americana Luxury Handbags MOD Explosion at the Art Institute of Seattle. The handbags on display were totally out of this world. I have never seen so many unique, innovative, and futuristic designs. The prices of the handbags varied drastically. Hopefully, it will not be too long until some replica designer bags similar to the ones that caught my eye start to appear online as I would love to add some new handbags to my collection. You can never have too many gorgeous handbags after all. Anyway, it was there I met the talented and stunning Joy Egbejimba, the creative force behind Nuciano™. I was so enamored with her beautiful clutch, I had to ask her if I could feature her work on What’s Up NW!
Nuciano™ is about every woman looking her best and making a statement to that fact. Every bag in a lady’s closet serves a different need and occasion. It depends on how a woman feels, what look she is going for at a particular time, and the event. At Nuciano™, we know that first impressions matter a lot. We go to great lengths to ensure that the engineering quality and finishing touches in our products help you express yourself, Nuciano style.
Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up?
I’m from Nigeria and have lived in the Seattle area for over 20 years. I grew up with lots of brothers and one sister. I guess having so many brothers made me to believe whatever my brothers can do that I could do it too and my parents made the environment seem that way for me. I don’t know it any other way, I noticed it was not the same for some of my friends, but I didn’t quite get it. Maybe I was too young to understand it but as I got older I saw that not all my friends grew up like I did. Which is probably why my brand is about women empowerment.
How does the Pacific Northwest lifestyle inspire you?
All our clutches have some elements of PN to it. We get inspiration by the falling of leaves in our beautiful Northwest area, our mountains, the Krebs cycle of salmon, greeneries, etc. We are so blessed to be living in this part of the world with the most beautiful scenery which inspires artists like myself. And our leather bags are made to withstand the Seattle rain.
Are there any designers that have inspired you and why?
Tom Ford, Victoria Beckham, Betsy Johnson, and Alex Bittar. Tom Ford has the clean, structural looks, same as Victoria Beckham, and I love the fun and daring flare that Betsy Johnson and Alexis Bittar brings to fashion.
What made you decide to create and design Nuciano and what’s behind the name?
I noticed that most bags I was seeing in the market cost so much, for anyone to have anything decent it takes amounts similar to a mortgage payment. My mission is to bridge that gap between quality and affordability while making it possible for most women to get their hands on “haute couture quality” bags. The brand was named after my grandmother, I was raised by her, so forming and naming the brand after her is simply my way of honoring her. She raised me to be fearless, go for what I want and always reach the finishing lines.
Walk us through how you design a bag, from concept to finished product?
We are so lucky to be living in this part of the world, I truly consider Pacific Northwest one of the most beautiful regions in the world. I start by focusing and narrowing to what era I’m trying to tap into, what do I want someone at the airport carrying, what do I want the bag to look like. I take long walks and sometimes I drive just to look around our beautiful Northwest air. I also pay close attention to the fashion industry to know what looks or trends that are happening. Although Nuciano is not about trends, we try to keep our designs classy, which can transition into multiple seasons and years. A handbag is something that defines a woman’s style, her journey, and story so it shouldn’t be one season or one hit wonder.
What makes Nuciano different from other luxury-style handbags?
Quality and price. And 5% of our proceeds goes to furthering opportunities for girls from poor homes in Nigeria who want to go to college.
What are some of your favorite pieces in the brand and why?
My oh my…..I love every one of them because each of them has a history or a story. There is something going in my life or around me when the design is taking place. There is a story to each piece.
What’s it like having your work featured on the runway?
It’s an amazing experience, I kept saying to myself, how in the world did I get here….as a little girl from Nigeria? I never dreamed that my designs would ever be on the runways of New York, London and Portland or that all these would be happening!
Tell us about some of your work in the community?
I have helped out teaching a marketing class at Bellevue Community College and a branding class at the Art Institute of Seattle. I will also be working with Girls Inc of the Pacific Northwest for their 2018 Power of the Purse in Portland to raise money for Girls Inc.
Where do you want to see Nuciano in the future?
My goodness, in a lot of sales outlets – especially the big department stores. I also see brand raising more money and increasing the opportunity for more girls for college, creating more impact, especially in the lives of young people.