Local handbag designer, Jenna Kator is poised to open her first brick-and-mortar store in Howell. The entrepreneur is in the process of renovating the space above 2Fog’s Pub, at 122 W. Grand River Ave.
The flagship store is a natural next step for the designer whose brand has been building a steady following for the past several years. Her wristlets, wallets, and handbags are sold at more than 50 boutiques around the state.
Kator launched her company during Detroit Fashion Week in 2009. The abysmal state of the economy in the Metro Detroit area had left her without a job, and she seized the opportunity to move in a new direction.
A former automotive advertising rep, Kator had always dreamed of being her own boss. Noting that many women were turning to affordably-priced accessories instead of apparel during that difficult time, she took a chance on launching her own line of bags, and the risk paid off.
The young upstart captured the attention of the press during the fashion week debut and was featured in a CNNMoney.com story highlighting Detroit’s attempt to transition from automotive to fashion. She would later receive the Detroit Accessories Award from Fashion Group International.
There are two things that have really endeared her designs to locals. The first is that, under a philosophy that no animals need to be hurt in order for humans to be stylish, all of the products are made using only “vegan” leather. The second, is that each design is inspired by and consequently named after a Michigan place or theme. For example, you can carry a Saugatuck bag or perhaps a Point Iroquois. Kator comes out with two collections a year, releasing five new designs each spring and fall. Each new piece sports an attractive tag outlining both peninsulas, as a reminder of the creator’s pride in her state.