A One Woman Handbag Dynamo in Killingworth

 

Annette Cook of Killingworth, Connecticut means business behind her 1920’s industrial Singer sewing machine, she’s got handbags to design and make. A few years back after she left the florist business, she was trying to figure out what to do next, she had no idea at the time what that would be, but one thing she did know is that she loved to create. What was next turned out to be creating pocketbooks instead of arranging flowers. Annette, a mother of two, turns out her beautiful leather and linen and satin creations right from her own home, I know I watched her demonstrate how this happens.

She didn’t always have her industrial sewing “monster” as she calls it, when she first started into  handbag making she only had the sewing machine her husband had bought her when they were first married. She went to town on that home machine that having purchased a pattern and after turning out ten or twenty purses she began to adapt and decided it was time to upgrade to a big time machine. Annette ended up with a sewing machine, bought locally in Westbrook, that had been used for sail making. Fast forward this little gem has helped her to produce about five-hundred bags.

Annette has not only learned how to design, but to market herself too. In this day and age of do everything yourself for your small business, she is one shining example. She has a great product. She is very particular about what kind of materials go into her bags, calls herself a perfectionist and decided long ago that there would be no top stiching on her handbags so her linings take a little longer as they have to be turned inside out after sewing.

The name of her company is “Pink Tulips“, why? From her days with flowers she knows that each has a special meaning, some of those meaning go all the way back to Victorian days when there would be a lot of discussion about who was sent what. Pink tulips she says meant the finer things in life, so she adopted that into her company.

Annette makes purses with bows which caught my eye immediately, those bags are definitely her signature along with her interchangeable flower bags, you’ll see an example of how that works in the video. Like so many who start their own businesses, sales is the difficult part. Annette remembers her first sale at a little shop that would take things on consignment, once she sold a few bags there she had the confidence to move on, an example of what can happen when you push to find that next thing.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Another wonderful woman …an inspiration to all of us

    The handbags are simply beautiful ..anything handmade is a treasure…..

  2. Posted March 17, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I have been buying fabulous bags from
    Annette for 2 years! I recieve compliments everywhere I go…people stop me to ask where I bought my bag!! After 2 years of constant use each changing season…my collection still looks fabulous!! They are well made, very durable and absolutely beautiful! Continued success Annette!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted March 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Lisa, my daughter and I just bought some of your fabulous cold-pressed olive oil at Venetucci Home and it is out of this world!

      • Posted March 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Ann! Thanks for contacting Annette and sharing her story too 🙂

  3. Fiona
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Annette! All your hardwork is paying off!

  4. Karen Guice
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    This is my amazing Aunt and she is so creative and amazing at what she does 🙂

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted March 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Karen, she is so talented and hard working and it was so wonderful to meet her!

      • Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        I think I’d better buy some new hats tomorrow. None of my old ones will fit anymore, since all of these compliments are making my head SO BIG!!! Thank you!

        • Ann Nyberg
          Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

          Annette, you deserve all of this and more, keep going!

  5. Posted March 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    I am a Pink Tulips regular and a member, with Annette, of the Connecticut River Artisans Co-op, in Chester, where we have a regular and ever-changing selection of these wonderful handbags!!! She’s a great person and talented artist!

  6. Karyl Evans
    Posted March 18, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I love these handbags! They are beautifully designed and look expertly crafted!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted March 18, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Indeed they are, Karyl!

  7. Sarah Kubic
    Posted March 18, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I have to say that My Aunt does some great work and that I get people stopping me all the time asking me where I have gotten my Bags. I can’t thank you enought Ann for doing this story on my Aunt. She is simply Amazing at what she does!

    • Ann Nyberg
      Posted March 18, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      Sarah you have an amazingly talented Aunt, she was a pleasure to spend tome with.

  8. Michelle Knockwood
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I live in Killingworth and didn’t know of this talented woman. Where does she sell her bags? They are very pretty!

  9. Amy Koepke
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Ann, for celebrating such a talented artisan! I can’t wait to get my first Pink Tulips leather bag. I love the video of Annette in her work space. Her devotion to quality craftsmanship is so clear. Keep searching for more amazing people! :o)