About


Hi there. My name is Janine and I am the designer, owner and maker behind Independent Reign. I can't believe its been over 10 years since I started this little journey back in 2007 (scroll down for that long story. ;)

Working from home

In my shop you'll currently find beach bags, crossbody purses, totes bags, wristlets, and more. I bring a simple, modern perspective and casual vibe to each of my designs; I rely on creativity, integrity, responsibility, attention to detail, and above all, good old-fashioned hard work, and I hope that resonates with each of my items.
All aspects of production--sourcing, measuring, sewing, cutting, complaining, packaging, and shipping--are done by me at my studio in NY. Its a labor of love, but it ensures that each bag is crafted with the exact same care and quality every single time. All aspects that don't involve actual production--accounting, photography, dreaming, thinking, harboring self doubt--are also all done by me here in NY.

 

The Backstory

In the Spring of 2006, I followed my then-boyfriend across the world to Hong Kong. (He had been transferred there for work.) I was able to continue working remotely (part-time) for the Wall Street tech firm I had been with for 10 years, although I was only logging in for about an hour or two each day. While I was certain that living in Hong Kong and having a ton of free time would enable me to: write the next great bestseller, learn Mandarin, master karate, volunteer for some worthy causes, become proficient with chopsticks, prepare Dim Sum specialties, and journal about all my great adventures, I found instead that without direction, I floundered. Away from friends and family and without a schedule or goal, I felt purposeless. Exhausting the tourist spots, the hidden local spots, and anywhere else my flip flops and a little red taxi could take me, I soon grew restless.

One day, drifting through a town (as I was prone to do) in search of motivation, I instead found inspiration. Wandering into a tiny shop that caught my eye, I discovered shelves from floor to ceiling filled with ribbons and trims in every imaginable color, neatly stacked roll upon roll like giant tiered birthday cakes. Further wandering produced an entire town of tiny shops filled with sequins, beads, trims, and notions in rainbows of color and pattern. I was absolutely awed by all the colors and textures. I immediately felt my mind kick into gear as I imagined what could be made with each bead or ribbon or zipper. I felt excited! Bargaining mostly in sign language with eager shop owners, I began purchasing a yard or two of the trims as an excuse to continue browsing the seemingly endless shelves and having no idea what I would use them for. Shiny satins, smooth velvets, and sparkly sequins all made it into my bag.

With a bit of encouragement from a good friend I set about the endeavor of learning to sew. With an $80 home sewing machine and a new challenge on my hands, hours flew by like minutes. I rediscovered a creative spirit that I had somewhat knowingly pushed aside along the way. I am self-taught through A LOT of trial and error and stubborn determination (and a fair amount of swearing and complaining seems to help too.)

My first sewing machine

Fast forward a few years and I found myself back home in New York City. Things ultimately didn't work out with that boyfriend,  but I found solace in a new Yorkie puppy!  Journaling about Hong Kong adventures and mastering Dim Sum specialties didn't work out either....but a new passion for sewing and a business venture ensued!

Buddy

 

I began listing a few items on Etsy way back when and was surprised when the little sequin purses that I used to make started selling. Over the course of a few months, sales kept increasing. It soon became difficult to work full-time and then come home to try to be 'creative' and/or sew bags and fill orders. I began to consider whether I could grow the business much more if I were to devote myself full time to sewing/designing. When the timing seemed right, I made the leap. It's always a risky move, and it was very difficult to maintain for the first few years. (It's pretty scary to not get a paycheck every week.) One of the hardest parts of running your own business is having the perseverance to ride the ups and downs. 10 years later, that's still the hardest part. But with my full-time attention, the business began to thrive.

My skill level has grown over the years, and I find that I'm often looking at something and thinking, "I wonder if I could make that?" That goes for anything from food to furniture to clothing -- although for now I'm sticking to accessories! New designs are never far from my mind (some good, some not so good), Often scrawled on napkins, post-its, bills, and other scraps of paper haphazardly tacked to an ever-crowded cork board hanging above my sewing machine.
When I come up with something new, I can't wait to see what it will look like when it's finished....and then I want to make it in 87 different colors and fabrics. (It can be hard to self-edit.) New projects don't always turn out like the vision in my mind...but that's part of the process. I keep working at it, making adjustments, and learning as I go. (That's actually not just a sewing lesson I've learned; it's become a bit of a life lesson). I often have no idea what I'm doing when I start something new, and I usually just wing it. I can be hard on myself when it turns out poorly, and I'm always surprised if it comes out well the first time (a rarity).
I think I lean towards a more casual style. The idea would be to look cool and be comfortable without feeling overdone or too fussy about things.
I can spend hours in a fabric store just thinking. I'm likely to utter a few profanities when a sneaky pin finds a way to stick me, and the bottoms of my socks are forever covered with fabric scraps and loose threads (as is my loyal little dog, Buddy).
Thanks for browsing my shop and taking the time to read my story.  :)
Current studio workspaceWorkspace, fabric rolls