LOCAL SPOTLIGHT: Leigh Ann Barnes
Whether you’re going out with your girlfriends for a night on the town, or you’re traveling across the country for a yet another business meeting, marketing consultant-turned-handbag-and accessory-designer Leigh Ann Barnes has got you in mind.
The Philadelphia resident never expected that taking a bit of time off from her career in 2007 would lead and inspire her down such a new path, but after a bit of experimenting in finding her own unique talents — she had always “admired women who knew what they wanted, graciously gave of themselves and appeared joyful in their pursuits” — that’s exactly what happened.
When she created her first-ever handbag — as a gift for her cousin — the light bulb went on. After realizing that this was, in fact, her calling, Barnes set out in search of the finest materials, from Italian leathers and silks to the hardware and charms that don each of her bags. And in somewhat of a whirlwind fashion, she began establishing her brand of stylishly smart, reversible handbags that “act as a style palette for women to customize,” she says. “It’s a line that allows women to showcase and exemplify their personal style, no matter how it changes from day to day.”
Barnes begins with simple sketches and prototypes — or in some cases, multiple prototypes — because the bags are reversible. Barnes chooses the leather herself, whether it’s a champagne pebble calfskin or gold lizard-embossed metallic lambskin (sourced from Italy) and along with her sewing team (mostly based in L.A.), produces the bags that range in size, color and material — both inside and out — from clutches to totes. “The team gets so excited,” she says “It doesn’t matter how many bags they’ve made in the past — the new creation brings new life and enthusiasm!”
Her clutches, handbags, totes and accessories, which range from about $250 to $650, can be found both online at leighannbarnes.com, as well as in local boutiques such as Center City and Manayunk’s Nicole Miller, Glen Mills and Wayne’s Vivi G. Shoes and Blue Horse Boutique, also in Wayne. (And Desperate Housewives fans, keep your eyes peeled — one of her creations just might be turning up on an episode this spring!)