Lana Hopkins founded the bespoke, luxury bag brand Mon Purse in 2014, driven by her own quest for the perfect bag. She talks to Drapers about personalisation, creativity and the powerful potential of technology.
Inspired by her own hunt for the perfect handbag, Lana Hopkins founded Mon Purse, a site where customers design their own handbag from scratch, in 2014. Since founding the site, pop-ups have opened in Selfridges, Bloomingdale’s in the US, and in Myer department stores in Hopkins’ native Australia. She spoke to Drapers about the creative power of tech, her passion for quality and her love of Sydney’s beaches.
How did you come up with the concept for Mon Purse?
I saw a gap in the luxury leather bag market when I realised that I spent far too many hours pounding the pavement, looking for the perfect handbag. I wanted the ability to have the perfect handbag for personal style, and I also wanted the experience of actually designing my perfect bag online. If it was possible for kids to build their own teddy bears, people to create their own custom Nike trainers, and women around the world to design their own premium shoes, there simply had to be a way to create high-quality, luxury and bespoke handbags.
Why do you think personalisation is so popular?
Individual branding is a very compelling consumer proposition. That said, consumers want so much more than a simple monogram. They want to customise and personalise their goods by selecting their perfect colour, texture, size and so much more.
What were you doing before you founded Mon Purse?
I came from a media background and I worked in magazine ad sales at News Ltd. Before founding Mon Purse, I was also part of another start-up as marketing and sales director, a business my very talented husband James started. This invaluable experience paved the way for Mon Purse.
Do you see yourself as more a designer or as working in technology?
The combination of fashion and technology is a natural partnership – the two work together in harmony. Technology has enabled consumers to personalise and customise current trends to suit their own style. Fashion is something people love and are passionate about – technology is simply the unseen mechanism of making dreams possible.
What’s the best business advice you’ve been given?
Always back yourself, and never give up. When things get tough, keep going anyway, as that is when breakthroughs tend to happen. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people and remain focused on your end goal.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in setting up Mon Purse?
The challenge is to continue to offer more personalised options in an easy and seamlessly integrated way. At the end of the day, the idea of monogramming has been around for many hundreds of years. The consumer has changed and wants the product to be more relevant to them. That may not be a monogram: it may be something we haven’t even thought of yet.
What is your career highlight so far?
Validation that the world has embraced the ”design your own” concept, and our global expansion into key department stores, such as Bloomingdale’s, Selfridges in November 2016, and our exclusive partnership with Myer department stores in Australia, which continues to expand around the country.
If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be and why?
Quality should trump everything. Our philosophy is to invest in nothing but the finest luxury European leathers and craftsmanship. Consumers understand quality – we must think solely about the consumers’ needs, and provide them with what they want, how they want and when they want it. It is very important to remain relevant and authentic. Consumers are intelligent and authenticity creates magic.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Spending quality time with my husband, family and friends. My husband, James, and I go on long coastal walks along Sydney’s eastern beaches regularly.
What was the last new brand you discovered?
Khaite jeans from theline.com
Tell us something about younot many people know
I was born in Russia, moved to Australia when I was quite young and grew up in a small place called Armidale, in countryside New South Wales – a gorgeous part of the world. I can also speak fluent Russian.
Favourite clothing brand
Gucci, Céline, Sandro and Scanlan Theodore
Favourite places to shop
Selfridges and Bloomingdale’s and, in Australia, Myer
Last fashion purchase
Last book you read
Alibaba – The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark
Last film you watched
La La Land
I worked at News Ltd. in magazine ad sales
An international journalist, travelling the world interviewing interesting and influential people