In our Featured Shop series, we shine a light on a standout shop from Etsy’s talented seller community, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at their process and story.
Roomy, rugged, and travel-ready or brightly patterned and pretty: There’s a perfect bag out there to suit every purpose and personality. And while it may seem surprising to think you could find, say, an adorable cat-ear clutch for your feline-obsessed cousin and a luxe leather satchel for your chic older sister from the same small atelier, Eda Atay Pastirmaci of the Seattle-based handbag shop Boejack Design makes it possible with her impressive array of styles, sizes, and materials to choose from.
With a background in engineering and an eye toward how each bag will be used—whether it’s a fanny pack for vacation that does double-duty as an evening bag or a hardworking carryall with hidden pockets to aid in organization—Eda creates handcrafted pieces that are more than just attractive accessories. “I think the main factor that affects my designs, above all, is functionality,” she says. “I’m always eager to create something that’s both useful and unique.” By keeping her customers’ different lifestyles in mind, Eda has produced an inspiring range of designs that offers something one-of-a-kind for every purse-carrier on your shopping list—yourself included.
Read on to discover Eda’s tips for finding the right handbag to fit the person, then shop the Boejack Design collection.
Take us back to the beginning: What was the first bag in your collection?
My first design was the cylindrical shaped bag. When I first started sewing, I could only sew fabric—canvas, mainly—so I created this model. To this day, I think people still really like it. I’ve added new versions over time and I’ve even introduced vegan leather handles.
What are some other top-sellers today?
It changes depending on the season. The fanny packs and cylindrical shaped bags sell very well in the summertime; during fall and winter, oversized and medium leather bags are popular both on Etsy and at craft shows.
With holiday shopping in full swing, can you share gifting tips for your handbags?
My advice for gifting one of my handbags is to think of your recipient’s future plans. For example, if she’s going to travel soon, I’d recommend the convertible fanny pack; if she just started college or a new job, I’d recommend the oversized tote bag so she can carry all of her books and supplies. The oversized tote is also perfect for people on the go, because it can fit a laptop, coat—even shoes for the gym after work. For someone who’s looking for something super unique, I would probably give the geometric bag or the wooden frame clutch. And lastly, keep in mind that fabric and colors play such an important role. For friends who are going through difficult times, I recommend giving them bags in bright colors to make them feel happier.
You studied electronics engineering, and you have a masters in business. How did you start designing purses?
Before Boejack Design, I had a very boring engineering career. I was in need of a hobby; I wanted to create something from scratch. I found this old sewing machine of my grandmother’s, and I taught myself to use it. The first bags I made were for myself and my friends. I didn’t have any intention of selling them, but then I went to a motivational workshop in 2011 and the instructor gave us homework: She asked us asked us to fulfill a dream of ours. I rushed home, collected all the handbags I’d made, and went to an independent boutique to see if they’d stock my designs. Everything started with this.
Tell us about your design process.
It’s about continuous improvement. It always starts with the question of how something is going to be used. First I decide what it’s going to be, say, a makeup bag or backpack. After I come up with a prototype, I use it (and ask my friends to use it) for a couple of weeks. Then I ask their opinions about the particular style: Do I need to add a zipper to the opening? Change the size? Add another pocket?
Even after a few months or a year, I sometimes decide to update certain elements. I also ask my customers for their feedback so I can incorporate it into my next iteration. Because everything is changing all the time—cell phones, earbuds, etc.—I need to change my designs, too. For example, modifying the pocket inside a bag in order to fit a bigger phone.
Can you tell us the backstory behind your (brilliant) convertible fanny pack?
I came up with the idea while I was on a trip. It was very warm and humid, and I wanted to be hands-free. I also wanted to keep all of my important belongings close to my body, and have a very neutral-looking, minimal bag. That’s how I thought of a fanny pack. The final design has a shoulder strap too, in case I want to carry it as a shoulder bag. You can take the straps off and use it as a clutch or wallet as well—everything is detachable.
What about your unique geometric handbag?
I carry lots of stuff in my bag, and being able to find things easily is very important to me. What I like most about my geometric bag is that it has two compartments, each with their own pockets inside. This helps keep everything organized and adds a lot of functionality, in addition to its unique geometric shape.
What sorts of materials do you use to make your bags?
All of my materials fit into three categories: fabrics, leather (including vegan leather), and hardware. I’m eager to source as much as I can locally or on Etsy because I love supporting other small businesses. I think my favorite material is Japanese fabric. In Japanese culture, certain patterns have different meanings according to tradition. You can see the way I’ve incorporated the wave fabric into my burgundy satchel: I picked this fabric because according to tradition, waves can bring you luck.
Do you have any customer stories you want to share?
People are always stopping me to see where I get my bags. Just last week, I was at a concert and a woman approached me. When I told her I made the bag I was wearing, it blew her mind. I gave her the name of my Etsy shop, along with a special coupon code, and she placed an order, which was very nice.
I’ve also got a lot of repeat customers. The interesting thing is that they keep buying the same bag over and over again. I’ve asked some of them, “Why do you buy the same bag so many times?” and they’ll tell me that a close friend or sister saw the bag and loved it, so they’re buying it for her as a gift.
Product photography by Boejack Design. Studio photography by Sasha Reiko.