I cannot count my day complete
'Til needle, thread and fabric meet.
~Author Unknown

Sharing a common thread with those who love the art of hand embroidery

Friday, April 4, 2014

Enid Collins.............the jewel in handbag designers

 Enid Roessler grew up in San Antonio, Texas . She then met and married a sculptor, Frederic Collins  and they  moved to a Texas Hill Country Ranch immediately following World War II. Both were craftsmen. Enid had studied costume design while working for a fine arts degree at Texas Woman's University. Frederic was an engineering draftsman whose hobby was animal sculpture.To help out with finances, Enid opened her first shop in 1959.

Combining their talents, they made some leather handbags, all hand-dyed and stitched, with ornamental brass closures sculptured by Frederic. The living room of their ranch house soon became a leather workshop as they filled special orders for friends and supplied the small shops at nearby dude ranches.A dress-designer friend suggested that they submit samples to the handbag buyer at Neiman-Marcus. They did--and to their great delight an order for $500 worth of handbags and matching belts followed. This was the beginning of Collins of Texas.

Soon the two of them could not fill all the orders, so additional workers were hired and trained, one at a time. More working space was require, so they rented a workshop in Medina, a tiny village of about 350 people. As the business grew, Frederic and Enid became more specialized in their individual contributions to it.

The leather handbags which they made were a seasonal item, and it was the search for styles which would enable their operation to keep busy all year around that led to Enid's creation of the decorated totes and wooden box bags that were to set fashion trends in casual handbags.

The designs all had names,--each told a story--each had something special or personal that the prospective customer could relate to. Some of Enid's classic designs are "Money Tree," "Road Runner," "Night Owl," "Carriage Trade," "Cable Car," "Sea Garden," "Love," and many more. There are currently 100 designs in production in the two Collins of Texas factories.

As the business grew, the need for a less expensive item became apparent, and Enid came up with the idea for a handbag made out of a wooden box, painted and jeweled. Acceptance grew slowly for such an original concept of fashion accessory. When it was copied, or in the terminology of the trade, "knocked of," by a New York firm, it received the boost it needed, and the wooden box bag is now a classic. There are many imitations, but no more copies, as all Enid Collins designs are copyrighted.

I have had this bag in my collection of purses for over 30 years..........not realizing that it had the Collins logo and name on the outside and inside. I just thought it was pretty and kept it all of these years. I recently found and article about these wonderful purses and the native Texas lady who made them and  remembered this bag in my collection. I am always delighted to be surprised by finding out about each piece I find as I learn the unique history or origin that it belongs to. This purse  looks to have never been used. Yes........it will be for sale in my shop. 
How about you? 
Do you remember these bags?
Did you own one are did your aunts, mothers, or grandmother's own one?
I would love to hear!


lil red hen said...

No, I had never heard of these bags or designers either. I doubt any of my folks had such a bag. This was an interesting story. I'm always amazed how some people take a simple idea and it grows into a profitable business.

I watch Texas Country Reporter and I'm surprised he hasn't done a story on this.

Wren said...

Such a wonderful story about kindred souls!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kathleen...

I never heard of the bags, but yours is very lovely. What an interesting story. Oh, I hope your shop is doing well.

Hugs and love,
Marianne xo

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

beautiful bag and nice to know the story of the artist that created it.