Luxe crocodile handbag designer Reyna Icaza wants to put an explanation point on your outfit. The stylish Nicaraguan-born beauty says her bespoke line of custom purses, clutches, and shoulder bags is distinguished, yet practical enough for everyday living, and can help women punctuate their own unique stories with classic "aspirational, yet attainable" elegance
A childhood spent steeped in the rich natural and cultural wonders of her Central American homeland developed Icaza's eye for refined detail. These early days of creative inspiration would prove more short-lived and impactful on the young designer-in-the-making than anyone could have predicted. In Late December of 1972, while Reyna and her family were visiting relatives in Los Angeles, a magnitude 6.2 Earthquake devasted their hometown of Managua. "Our home, my school: everything crumbled," she recalls, "My parents made the decision for us to stay in Los Angeles since there was nothing to go back to." Our entire family had to start our new lives in L.A. I had to learn English, enroll in school, adapt to a new country and proudly became a citizen of the U.S. - my new country -which I love" Fortunately for the fashion world, Reyna's sartorial - centric upbringing in Nicaragua led to an early career working with product development for luxury brands such as Ralph Lauren and William-Sonoma.
Thirty-five years later Reyna returned to Managua, the cit's landscape had changed dramatically. I discovered a new city that I didn't even recognize, after returning I decided I wanted a change from the corporate world and I wanted to dive into something that would afford me more personal contact with both my creations and my clients. In Re-exploring my native country, I discovered that Nicaragua had access to incredibly beautiful crocodile skins. That planted a seed in my mind. I could source both the crocodile skins and manufacturing in Nicaragua.
Reyna has a great eye for developing those perfect jewel tones.
The process of building her business has been a family affair. Acquiring the sustainable crocodile skins and working with local craftspeople were just two of the challenges she said were greatly simplified by having roots there. Reyna's mother was very instrumental in helping her network and makes her dust-bags. Her first year in Nicaragua was spent learning about the skins, working with the craftsmen, and establishing her standards." Her husband Dane was vital in designing her logo and website, which were both major steps to launching practical operations.
Look who else is part of the family business. Matisse oversees all of Reyna's packing for her travels...mostly figuring out how to go with her...
Reyna enjoys doing trunk shows in her friend's homes. She enjoys the creative process and taking her time while working one-on-one.
Classy Snake Skin Clutch Bags.
You can also choose cuff bracelets, belts, wallets and passport covers... a great gift idea for men.
I love working with my clients, In many cases they come up with stunning ideas and color combos. Seen here with Kelly Preston.
These one-of-a-kind pieces give any look instant "WOW" I absolutely love my red bag. The red is a perfect red. It's nice to be hands-free. This bag is great for traveling, and for evenings you can remove the strap for a dressier look. Cuff bracelet.
Reyna has found one of the most multi-faceted obstacles of being a handbag maven is to understand the ever-changing landscape of social media and to strategize how to leverage it to help build her brand. "It's a whole new way of doing business, so I'm pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and embrace it." Reyna is right where she belongs; thoughtfully stitching together pieces of the two countries she calls home. "I love facing every new day," she says. "Since it's just me running my business, I get to wear many different hats. Depending on the time of year, I may be developing and designing new handbags, sourcing, and buying hardware, preparing for a trunk show, or boxing and shipping handbag. I do spend a lot of time following up on production and talking with my team in Nicaragua. It's amazing how you can run a business with an IPhone."... We're so grateful she does.
Reyna is available for trunk shows. Her information is on her website or you can email me, or write in the comment box here on the blog with any questions. It was an absolute pleasure spending the day with Reyna and having lovely women enjoying a little shopping and sharing a few laughs.
Money doesn't buy elegance. You can take an inexpensive sheath, add a pretty scarf, gray shoes, and a wonderful bag, and it will always be elegant. Carolina Herrera
Grateful Gardenia: As a businesswoman, what are some challenges you have faced in the beginning stages, and how did you overcome them?
Reyna: The beginning stages of my business were actually very exciting. The first challenge was to find the right factory to work with in Nicaragua that could make my handbags. Being from Nicaragua and having family there made the process a little easier. My mother was very instrumental in helping me network. I spent a lot of time in Nicaragua my first year learning about the skins, working with the craftsmen, and establishing my standards. The other challenge was developing my brand and setting up my business. My husband Dane, designed my logo, helped me set up everything operationally, and most importantly developed my initial my website. I was amazed how my identity, brand logo set the tone for my vision. After that, I was on my way. Most challenging for me was understanding the never changing landscape of social media, and how to leverage it to help build my business. It’s a whole new way of doing business, so I’m pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and embrace it. Thanks to your help too, I’m on my way.
Grateful Gardenia: Briefly describes a day in your life as an entrepreneur. From the time you wake up -
Reyna: I wake up with lots of love: hugs and kisses from Matisse - our mini dachshund - every morning (sorry honey). I love facing every new day. Since it’s just I running my business, I get to wear many different hats. Depending on the time of year, I may be developing and designing new handbags, sourcing, and buying hardware, following up on production, preparing for a trunk show, and boxing and shipping handbags. I do spend a lot of time talking with Nicaragua since all my production is done there. It’s amazing how you can run a business with an iPhone.
Grateful Gardenia: What motivates you in your job and your personal life?
Reyna: Oh wow, so many things…In life I think “love and faith” are the key ingredients, that seem to make everything fall into place. It feels so good to love!! I love my husband, my family, Matisse, my friends, and my home. I also love food, eating and cooking, mixed with travel and exploration. Having family in New York, California and Nicaragua pretty much ensures that I’m always exposed to a lot of amazing places, people, and ideas. It’s easy to be motivated when you have positive energy and know how to be happy in life. I feel very blessed. I’m doing business with my native country, in my native tongue. I never dreamed that I would return to my roots and start a business. The support of my husband, family and friends keep me going. In my job, I receive enormous motivation and encouragement from all the women I meet, from fellow entrepreneurs to my customers. Women truly motivate and help one another, and want other women to succeed. I spent many years in the corporate world, and I can tell you that it’s very different dealing with women outside the corporate world. There are so many entrepreneurial women doing great things and succeeding. This inspires me. It’s also amazing that in the short time that I’ve been in business, I’ve developed a very loyal clientele. I receive dozens of handwritten cards from my clients, telling me how much they love their handbags. These notes come from the heart and they are priceless to me. It’s such a wonderful feeling; I can’t help but stay motivated. Thank you to all the women that are reading this, you know who you are, and I’m so appreciative for all your support.
Grateful Gardenia: What are your three favorite beauty or clothing products you simply can’t live without?
Reyna: Hmmm…Yoga is essential, and no red meat. I’m scared of the “new” beauty treatments. In clothing, I have a fetish for white blouses and black dresses for every occasion. I love combining navy and black. White jeans are essential for summer, and of course handbags, preferably a Reyna Icaza handbag. :)
Grateful Gardenia: How do the ideas to consistently grow your business come to you?
Reyna: I’ve been in the fashion industry my whole life. In my early years I spent many years in product development, merchandising and design, and later in retail management at Ralph Lauren. The interesting part is that what I’m doing now is totally new to me. I’ve been introduced to private trunk shows, and I’m enjoying them so much. Direct contact with all my customers is priceless; I’m constantly listening to feedback and growing. I’ve been in the fashion industry my whole life. In my early years I spent many years in product development, merchandising and design, and later in retail management at Ralph Lauren. The interesting part is that what I’m doing now is totally new to me. I’ve been introduced to private trunk shows, and I’m enjoying them so much. Direct contact with all my customers is priceless; I’m constantly listening to feedback and growing.