It’s once again that time of year when we whip out the credit cards, cash and checkbooks to splurge on our loved ones – which can leave little left over for ourselves. For women hoping to dress up for a holiday party or New Years Eve bash, this can pose quite the financial predicament.
Enter Hydrangea Blu handbags. “They’re perfect if you’re looking for something special to wear with that 10-yearold little black dress,” said Kristy Kurjan, owner and designer of the Traverse City business. “You can spice up an old outfit without having to buy a whole new one.”
PATTERN & VARIETY
The line now includes holiday patterns from Christmas plaids and golds to shimmery pastels and blacks, and come in four sizes: the signature clutch, a 10x6 bag ideal for carrying all the essentials such as a wallet, cell phone, lipstick and small camera; the worker clutch, which is large enough to snugly fit documents, an iPad and its case; the over-sized clutch, which is similar to the signature, only longer and “easily can carry a pair of flip flops to switch into from heels,” said Kurjan; and finally, the wallet size — or ‘mini clutch,’ as she affectionately calls it. The mini holds all your plastic and cash for a night at the bar.
“Hydrangea Blu is for stylish women who are looking for something unique,” said Kurjan, who writes the weekly MyStyle column in the Express. “Anyone can carry them…from 80-year-old grandmothers to 16-year-old high schoolers.”
Started this July, the Hydrangea Blu handbag line has already found a steady market – simply by word of mouth.
“I have a lot of repeat customers. There’s a lot of ‘My daughter took mine, I need another!’” she laughed. “Either that, or customers just want them in a different style.”
Kurjan started Hydrangea Blu about a year and a half ago after moving to the area with her husband, Aaron, who works as an anesthesiologist for Munson Medical Center.
“I didn’t know what opportunities were in Northern Michigan, but I knew I wanted to own my own business…something that would allow me to create things,” said Kurjan, who has had a love for fashion since designing clothes as a little girl.
After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in fashion journalism, Kurjan has worked for Glamour Magazine, Claire’s and the Oprah Winfrey Show. And while she still enjoys writing about fashion today, Kurjan’s real passion shines through her own work. That is evident throughout the upstairs of the couple’s home.
“I like to call it a creative explosion,” she smiles, alluding to her work space that trickles into other rooms.
Hundreds of fabric swatches, in a variety of patterns, textures and colors, sit in plastic bins among zippers and labels. Kurjan finds most of her materials at local trunk or art shows while the Hydrangea Blu labels come from New York City.
The bags are sewn and assembled by women hired through a local contractor in Kingsley.
BLU AND BEYOND
Hydrangea Blu started as a dress line, but has since phased into handbags.
“It was hard doing that and being a one-man show,” said Kurjan, pointing to her multiple roles as designer, marketer, accountant, and sales rep.
However, Kurjan said the move has worked and allows her to see where the handbag line can grow from here.
“I’d like to eventually do bags with leather straps and large diaper bags,” she noted, although some moms will use their stylish clutches as one-time diaper changes. Hydrangea Blu also offers custom handbags for brides and their bridesmaids, adding personalized embroidery or a vintage lace for sentimental value.
The bags come in a variety of patterns and colors available year-round, including the ever-popular zebra and leopard prints.
Just one question remains: Why keep the style to yourself?
“They make great stocking stuffers,” said Kurjan.
Hydrangea Blu handbags are available at Ella s Boutique in downtown Traverse City, Vogels & Foster s in Chelsea, Green Goodness in Leland and Mecca Boutique in Benzonia. For more information, visit hydrangeablu.com/Hydrangea_BLU_ Handbags/Home.html.