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Educated to Design

by Sofroina Timmons
Do you remember sitting at your desk in grammar school wondering what you wanted to be when you grow up? Then you heard your teacher say: "You can be whatever you want, an astronaut and a painter or a treasure hunter." The designer of Della Designed, Della Murphy Ruston, did just that by accomplishing one career in education and following her desire to design handbags.

Della Designed (which includes items like shoulder bags, totes, laptop bags, PDA/passport bags, clutches and wallets) has everything you need to remain seasonally stylish and to spruce up your wardrobe. Each bag is designed with superior quality leather that is timeless in any fashion genre. Della believes that an assortment of designs from one line will assist in minimizing the decision of purchasing several lines to create your individual style.

Give us some background info on Della.
I started my collection during the summer of 2008. I had been selling other handbags for four years and had my own ideas about what I liked in a handbag. I had also received considerable feedback from clients about their preferences in handbags when it came to form and function. By using quality leather and hardware and distinctive styles, I was able to provide a designer handbag that was unique and affordable. I have been able to create a bag that equals or surpasses many designer handbags that are currently on the market.

What are you doing to keep pace with the competition and to standout?
Our designs are unique and affordable, which is the best way to keep up with the competition. We have a wide range of styles and colors, something for everyone. The designs are all unique because they are designed by a Canadian with a Canadian frame of reference. This brings uniqueness to the handbags. Even in today’s economy, they are an affordable splurge. Della Designed began during a recession and continues to hold its own, so we must be doing something right!

My handbags have to be outstanding and unique in order to compete in such a saturated market. Della Designed handbags have to be better quality than the other handbags on the market. Many handbag flaps are fabric on the underside, whereas the underside of a flap on a Della handbag is lined with leather. I have to have eye catching and unique designs that are functional. I have to be better than everyone else and charge a fair and reasonable price for a great bag!

Who is your ideal customer and why?
My ideal customer is someone who isn’t concerned with the label but wants something unique that is stunning, affordable, and great quality!

Who do you envision wearing this collection?
I can envision anyone wearing any of my designs. People who appreciate excellent quality, have great fashion sense, and a desire to be an individual are the people who are wearing this collection. Discerning women who love to be noticed are my usual clientele. They love to ask me for business cards because of all the people who ask them where they got their handbag. They come back repeatedly, not just for handbags but for more of my business cards. My customers range in age from 17 to 85 and there is no specific bag for a certain age range. The Kaitlyn is named for a university student who was the first to purchase it. It has also been purchased by women over 80. I have a bag named after actor Linda Purl, currently starring in “Homeland” as she has endorsed and purchased my handbags.

What were your inspirations for the current collection?
I am currently working on my summer collection and hope to have it available in the new-year. My current collection includes handbags that are classic and feminine, as well as some bolder, funkier designs. My inspiration comes from the fashion world’s trends and classic designs in clothing, shoes, jewelry etc. Things that jump out and grab me personally are the things that inspire me. Many of my designs are more classical than trendy and have the ability to go from one season to another. Some of my customers have numerous handbags and change them as often as they do their clothing, whereas others prefer a single style that will carry them through all of the seasons. My inspiration also comes from my friends and family who are my greatest cheerleaders and critics. They are always providing me with valuable feedback.

Where can Della be purchased and what are the price points?
My handbags can be purchased from our online store: www.delladesigned.com or from www.sears.ca. Wallets retail for $99 and handbags range from $249 to $299. Laptop bags sell for $349.

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