Whenever Cheryl Lauritch shopped for purses, the products she found never quite met her expectations. Whether the bags she was purchasing were high-end or inexpensive, they all left her wanting more.
She encountered liners that dirtied quickly, zippers that broke easily and weak handles. Furthermore, she always felt like she was showcasing someone else’s vision for her life. When she decided to launch her own line of bags, she knew exactly what she wanted to create: a simple, stylish, well-crafted bag people could make their own.
“I started doing this because I was out in the world, and I’d been at home raising my son and having these consumer experiences that I refer to as less than for me,” she says.
The Oshkosh entrepreneur launched Brand Bags in 2016. Her bags, designed to be free, open and deconstructed, are available in colors ranging from neutral to bold. They’re made to develop a patina over time and feature strong handles and snaps.
Lauritch, who works out of The Grind in Oshkosh, aims for responsible sourcing. All bags are made of 100 percent byproduct leather, meaning the materials are sourced from animals used for the food industry. She earned the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Made in Wisconsin designation.
The bags, which retail for $265 for totes and $65 for cross-body bags, are available online as well as in boutiques such as Ripon’s American Alchemy. Adrienne Rank, owner of American Alchemy, says Brand Bags are a perfect product for her shop that sells primarily American-made accessories and clothing.
“I think people love what it stands for, so that’s always a great conversation starter for it,” she says.
Lauritch would like to grow more consistent sales, which would allow her to extend her line, as well as have her products placed in more shops, possibly nationwide.
No matter what happens, though, she’s enjoying the journey and creative process.
“It’s not a problem to try,” she says. “It’s a privilege to try.”