Vera Bradley Handbags and Accessories
Display of Vera Bradley Bags at Hallmark Store
Vera Bradley Accessories Are Pretty and Practical
I freely admit that I am addicted to handbags. I love all of them. I donate many to charity when I no longer have a use for them, or my tastes change. But there comes a point when practicality becomes an issue. I find that certain bags are poorly constructed and break easily, or do not have enough compartments for everything I want to carry with me. Then I noticed brightly colored Vera Bradley bags, with their whimsical quilted patterns, many pockets to organize things, and large variety of colored designs. I adored them immediately, and slowly became more interested in this company as I saw more women carrying Vera Bradley handbags and other products.
Vera Bradley Company Is Born
Two women co-founded the company who manufactures these bags, Barbara Bradley Balkgaard and Patricia R. Miller. They were sitting in an airport waiting for a flight out of Atlanta in 1982. Anyone who has watched a luggage carousel spin around dozens of times while trying to find their belongings can attest to the fact that most of it is boring, black, and masculine looking. Or at least it used to be.
Barbara and Patricia decided that as soon as they got home, they would design a line of women’s luggage and travel accessories. When they returned home to IN, they did just that, and named the company after Barbara’s Mom, Vera. It was their mission to find a way to manufacture and market sensible, colorful, useful handbags and luggage. Barbara and Patricia never believed these brightly colored bags with lots of pockets for storage would become so popular, but the Vera Bradley brand was born.
The Vera Bradley Company is now an internationally recognized name. Vera Bradley herself was born August 9, 1909, and apparently had a colorful and fun personality which is reflected in the goods that bear her name. She was a model for Elizabeth Arden, and a class act, with a great sense of style and grace. Vera worked for the company as a sales representative from her Miami, FL, residence, until she passed away in the early 1990’s.
Vera Bradley Products Are Functional and Made to Last
I bought my first Very Bradley bag about ten years ago. But I discovered that the Very Bradley Company has been in business for over twenty years, and has many loyal followers. Each season new fabrics and patterns are introduced into the line, and different styles of handbags and totes are eagerly awaited by fans. As time passes, and women’s needs change, all kinds of new items continue to be added to the line, including eyeglass holders, wallets, wristlets, makeup pouches, composition notebooks, zippered ID cases, flip flops, reusable shopping bags, key ring holders, overnight bags, backpacks, laptop sleeves, e-book carriers, and suitcases with wheels and handles.
The biggest strength of the line is functionality. The bags always look stylish, yet have enough pockets for storage. One of my three Vera Bradley bags is a Villager, which has six roomy, inner pockets, and two on the outside, one that zips, and one that is easily accessible, great for your cell phone, lip saver, or keys. The Villager is my choice for longer trips, although many totes are available that will nicely fit your travel needs. My Villager has been stepped on while on the floor of an airplane, and after a machine wash and dry, it looks not only clean, but perfect. There is a board tucked into a notch at the bottom of each bag to help hold its shape, so after the wash and drying is finished, all you need to do is replace that piece, and the bag looks fine. The colors continually change, so new designs are always available in bold and bright patterns, and there are ample conservative designs and color combinations too.
Vera Bradley Villager
This is another must have if you are traveling, even if it's a day trip with children. I can keep all I need organized in the numerous inner and outer pockets provided (and the outer ones have zippers or snaps to keep your belongings safe).
Vera Bradley Products Are Made in America
The home office of the Vera Bradley Company is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the heart of the Midwest. The company is committed to excellence, quality, and dependable customer service, plus the designs are exclusive. They have earned their sterling reputation as leaders in the gift industry, because the line of items keeps growing, and people cannot seem to get enough of the stylish, quilted cotton handbags with fabrics and trims. The products are popular with young college aged women who need suitcases, backpacks, or laptop bags, but many older women can be seen sporting Vera Bradley handbags and wallets as well. The wide range of color combinations makes them irresistible. I also have a small black handbag, about 6 inches wide, with a tiny red and white trim, and two small handles that drop about 4 inches. Despite its small size, it has three inside pockets. I wouldn’t use it for a formal occasion where a clutch would be more appropriate, but I do like to use it for more dressy affairs, as it is roomy enough for a hair brush, wallet, a small makeup bag, your keys, and other essentials.
There are two other good reasons to buy Vera Bradley goods. They are made in the U.S, so we Americans can feel patriotic while shopping. I was also amazed at the array of philanthropic causes these wonderful souls support. The main charity they concentrate their energies on is the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, to fund research for a cure. The leaders began raising funds for breast cancer when their friend and co-worker Mary Sloan lost her battle with this cancer in 1998.
Since then the company has raised more than ten million dollars, and opened the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Lab at the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. Vera Bradley Company donates 10% of net proceeds from sales of all pink shades of breast cancer awareness colors or patterns to programs that provide free mammograms, meals, and transportation for women undergoing difficult cancer treatments, and for cutting edge medical equipment.
Another philanthropic cause Vera Bradley Company participates in is the Ride for Riley, begun on July 10, 2010. A giant red wagon joins in a parade to represent the community’s hopes for healthy children now and in the future. Also, beginning in 2007, employees and families who work for Vera Bradley have been asked to help participate by walking, pulling a wagon, or riding a float in the Three Rivers Festival parade in Fort Wayne, IN, for a $20.00 donation. 100% of the proceeds go to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. A local radio station has teamed up with Vera Bradley Company to raise both funds and awareness for the Riley Hospital for Children. This hospital is committed to providing high quality health care to children in an environment where they can be close to their families. This hospital is a national leader in cutting edge research and medical education. Riley Hospital for Children provides services to any sick child, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. Riley Hospital for Children is recognized as one of the best children’s hospitals in the U.S. You may learn more on iuhealth.org/riley/.
This bag is designed with the correct dimensions for a carry on bag on an airplane. It has 5 large pockets inside, a place to loop the bag over the top of your wheeled suitcase at the airport, 2 large compartments in back, and a large, safe, zippered one in the front, which you can see in this picture. It's great for things you need to reach fast while on line at the airport or after you get on board. I recently bought one for a trip to Antigua, and don't know how I managed without it. All Vera bags come in a variety of colors, not all of them are paisley. IMHO, this is the best item they ever made.
Vera Bradley Company Gives to Many Philanthropic Causes
The workers of Vera Bradley came together once again during the United Way Day of Caring, which began August 12, 1993, when a few people who wanted to help clean up the YWCA Campus did so. Over 250 volunteers showed up the first year. This community effort has continued and evolved over the years. Now local non-profit organizations and community organizations have turned their attention to neighborhood revitalization, after school youth programs, and painting and landscaping for other non-profit agencies. Vera Bradley Company employees get the day off with pay if they volunteer to help on the year’s chosen project. Last year a team of 150 workers from Vera Bradley Company helped beautify a local elementary school and raised funds to collect school supplies for the children.
As if the employees and employers of Vera Bradley Company did not do enough for worthy causes, in 2009 they pledged $300,000.00 to link fifty miles of biking and hiking trails across the Ft. Wayne area. This project is called Aboite New Trails. Pat Miller, VB’s co-founder says, “We love the idea of connecting all of Fort Wayne to a better quality of life. This is a one-time chance to finish a trail corridor that improves health, safety, economic development, and community spirit. This is just too good to pass up.”
Vera Bradley Company also has an ongoing Matching Gifts Program. They offer workers the chance to apply $1.00 for one matching dollar towards a gift of up to $100.00 per year. Any employees who serve on the Board of Directors may apply for a grant of up to $250.00 for any organization of their choice.
This generous company also gives both money and product donations to a wide variety of non-profit events across the whole state of Indiana. You may submit a request for charitable help for the cause of your choice by using the form available on Verabradley.com if it meets the criteria listed on the site's form.
Vera Bradley E-Reader Sleeve
Not to worry, your e-reader can be taken anywhere with this great tablet sleeve. Even if you drop it and someone steps on it, your precious books will remain safely stored! I have two of them in case one is in the wash!
Vera Bradley Products Change with the Times
I never dreamed the people at Vera Bradley Company did so much good for others when I began buying their products and decided to research the company. This is a very impressive list of activities and it would seem this company would attract workers of high caliber, since they are willing to give so freely of their time to help others. So the next time you are admiring a lovely Vera Bradley handbag, backpack, wallet, or tote, you can feel good knowing that a percentage of the price is going to help the needy. I know you will purchase one of these colorful, sturdy products. They are simply too pretty and practical to pass up, and make perfect gifts for the women in your life for special occasions.
Just an afterthought-- when you order an item you like from VB on Amazon, your chosen item and it's pattern are normally available in many colors. There are thumbnails to click on so you can "try" it out and see what colors you like best. Let's pretend you have a morning meeting and have a presentation on your laptop. It doesn't have to be in a purple and orange paisley laptop sleeve (though depending on your personality, that may express you well! It will probably be available in black and white, or brown and green, something a bit tamer. Of course, many flowery and retro 1960s looks are available too. Hallmark Crown card and gift stores usually carry VB items as well, but Amazon is cheaper and has more specials. Vera Bradley products make great gifts too! Have fun just browsing all the great products.
© 2011 Jean Bakula