DESIGNER INTERVIEW: Joan Martin, Co-Founder of Brahmin Handbags

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brahmin co-founder Joan Martin will be in town this weekend, celebrating the launch of their new Tuscan Tri-Texture Collection. Joan will host an in-store appearance at Dillard's department store in the Woodlands on Friday, August 21st from 11pm - 2pm. Joan will conduct custom bag fittings and offer style recommendations. In preparation for her Houston visit, I conducted a Q&A session with Joan on starting Brahmin, her partnership with Dillard's and this new collection.

While most of my readers are familiar with the brand, Brahmin, some may be discovering your brand for the first time, so let’s start from the beginning. What does the name Brahmin mean?
We went with the name Brahmin  because Brahmin is named after our New England roots and family history. When picking a name for our company, we didn't want to name it after ourselves (Martin), instead, we agreed the name Brahmin was a great fit, as we were making handbags in the Boston area and the Boston Brahmins were considered to have the most discerning taste and love of great materials.

How did you and your husband, Bill Martin, decide on creating handbags as a business?
My husband Bill and I started Brahmin in 1982. I have always had a love for design and wanted to create handbags that were as functional on the inside as they are beautiful on the outside.

How did you get started with the idea? Finding artisans to craft such meticulous bags, couldn’t have been easy? 
Bill and I knew that we wanted to create the finest quality handbags in America, but getting started was challenging. Many people don’t understand how hard you have to work to achieve something. I designed the bags, made patterns, coached our small crew on how to make the bags, shopped for ALL of the raw materials, while Bill shopped for machinery to make our bags more beautiful and stand out in quality. Finding artisans in the early days was not easy. but we are proud that we have stayed true to our core values, continuing to create quality handcrafted bags with dozens of skilled artisans.

Do either of you have a background in design/handbag making?
I have always been a designer of my own things which helped me to become a handbag designer. Bill was an expert on leather having worked in footwear. Together we used our experience and drive to create something special in handbags.

When did you decide to add other items to your offerings? Wallets, bracelets, cell phone covers, etc.?
This category was a natural extension and items our customers were asking for. We began crafting accessories in soon after we introduced our first few collections. We are going to be expanding the offering this Holiday so stay tuned!

How did Brahmin come to partner with Dillard’s for the launch of the Tuscan Tri-Texture Collection?
We have a long-standing relationship with Dillard’s. They have been a great partner to the brand. We decided to highlight this partnership by putting together Brahmin Week at Dillard’s. In addition to our event in the Woodlands store, I will also be hosting an event at Dillard’s in Baton Rouge on Saturday. 
Tell us a little bit more about the collection? The shapes, styles, and the premise of the Tri-Texture and how it differs from the original Tuscan collection. 
It is a modern update to a Brahmin classic. It features an added layer of smooth brown leather, paired with signature chocolate Whitney croco, on top of a rich black leather. The collection includes 6 styles – all available exclusively at Dillard’s:

Where do you get your inspiration from for the different collections?
I get my inspiration from women I interact with each and every day. I’ve always been intrigued by the qualities and versatility women look for in their handbags. I am inspired everyday by what I see and love designing collections that meet the needs of our customers.

How would you describe your own personal style?
My own personal style is what I’m comfortable with, I try not to get too wrapped up in trends, I wear what I’m comfortable with and what feels right.

Is there anything else that you would like for my readers to know about you, Brahmin, or the partnership with Dillard's?
We are committed to Texas and the Houston market and are thrilled to have one of the most loyal group of customers located in this region. Brahmin has a namesake boutique store located in the Dallas Galleria as well as an outlet in San Marcos. We find that our Texas clients share our brand values of embracing femininity and celebrating strength. Hope to see you at the event!




*Photos provided by PR Firm for Brahmin

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