“Every woman needs a handbag wardrobe. When it comes to updating your style, a new handbag is your best investment.” That’s what Kathy Cappelli, owner of Oxford Handbags, believes is key to great fashion.
Getting her start after visiting an antique shop where she found a vintage handbag, Cappelli began selling handbags through ads in the local newspaper. She bought her handbags from a manufacturer, and as sales picked up, she created and launched Oxford Handbags, a mostly online business named after her hometown.
“I loved the [first] woman who bought my bags. Those first customers looked for me the following year and brought new shoppers.”
Cappelli offers a wide variety of new and old handbags, including classic, clutch, vintage, tote, and satchel. But don’t think there are plenty of handbags to go around. Cappelli keeps her inventory moving and doesn’t buy multiple bags. “If a customer wants a bag listed on the website that has been sold, I will call the manufacturer to see if they have another, but there are no guarantees.”
The unique style of her bags sets her apart from big-name department stores.
“I buy small quantities in a variety of styles from many different manufacturers and I handpick each bag. It is easier to develop your own style when you have an abundant selection from which to choose. When you see the same thing in all the stores, there isn’t any personal style in that.”
Cappelli’s main goal when it comes to her handbags is affordability. “Everyone can update their wardrobe without breaking the bank.” Cappelli keeps that theme running through her company; none of the bags are made of leather, are designer, or have her name on them
She also wants her bags to be, as she calls it, seasonless.
“It’s a good investment because you can have colors and styles that work throughout the week and throughout the year,” she explains. But even with her push to develop the seasonless bag, some seem aligned with one season, such as holiday bags and those with deeper colors for fall and winter.
Not only do her bags work for every season, they complement every age, too. Young adult women, middle-aged moms and seniors find the perfect purse. Cappelli reminisces about a sale at an event in which she sold a handbag to an elderly woman.
“She was dressed beautifully and I approached her with a bag that would go with what she was wearing and said, ‘I think this is your bag,” and she said ‘This is my bag!” She loved it and bought it.”
Lorie Maicher, a repeat customer of Oxford Handbags, praises the company. “Kathy’s handbags are great. They are chic and look expensive, yet are very affordable. And for me, being an animal lover, I like the fact they are cruelty free. My favorite is the small white Parisian. It’s perfect this time of year. I can dress it up with a cute scarf or leave it as is. It goes with everything; whether I use it with my work wardrobe or on the weekends – it’s perfect! I’m already looking forward to seeing what she comes out with for the fall.”
Maicher loves the idea of a seasonless bag that lets her add her own sense of style. “A fall handbag takes me to spring and then another bag takes me from spring through the summer. That’s why I loved the all-white Parisian I mentioned before. I tend to stay more with neutrals and classic lines. I loved the idea of tying little scarves to the handles like Kathy had displayed; it can give me a seasonal feel if want.”
Cappelli’s success is in part due to her participation in many charity events. She and her merchandise can be found at Winterthur Point-to-Point, Chester County Hospital Polo Cup, and the Willowdale Steeplechase. She plans to be at the Dilworth Wine Tasting Event, Fair Hill International, and Clean for our Cause. She finds these events to be highly successful – if the weather cooperates. These events also present a huge social networking opportunity for Cappelli, and her website always buzzes after an event.
Cappelli also offers accessories to go with her handbags. She currently sells Pashmina wraps, silk scarves, and magnetic embellishments, and she plans to add Alpaca wraps in the near future. She would love to expand her accessories section and is constantly looking at what women have and what they are wearing. “I want women to look practical, beautiful, and have the look of luxury, just not the cost.”
Cappelli’s overall growth comes from her passion about style, fashion, and great details. She loves every part of the business process from the buying to the selling.
“I love helping people. I love styling a woman and showing her how she can be better.”
As Oxford Handbags grows, Cappelli would like “to have a strong handbag business with large repeat customers in the U.S. and I would like to elaborate more on my accessories.”
An Oxford handbag only enhances a woman’s look. “It’s about developing your own sense of style and wardrobe,” she says.
For more information visit www.oxfordhandbags.com or email Kathy Cappelli at Kathy@oxfordhandbags.com