Men can be tough to shop for.
Whether it's a birthday, Valentine's Day, Christmas or some other occasion, getting ideas on what to buy can be difficult.
The new Cross Bag offered by LexiWynn can make a great gift, says Libertyville resident Seth Holzwarth, who owns LexiWynn with his wife, Alexa. Made of materials like waxed canvas and leather, the bags, designed to be worn across the body, can carry a guy's iPad, laptop and other gadgets.
The messenger bag is lined with wool to keep gadgets safe.
"Some of the most high-end fabric you can buy is wool," said Holzwarth. The messenger bag, he said, is a perfect item for a 20- or 30-year-old who wants to transition from a regular bag to "something more sophisticated."
LexiWynn is now seeking local support for its new line through a Kickstarter campaign, where people can pledge their support financially—and possibly receive a gift in return.
The Libertyville company, which started in 2006, offers customers the opportunity to design their own handbags. Customers can choose from 85 different fabrics and designs and select from one of the company's 24 purse styles.
Those custom-designed bags are then assembled and sewed at LexiWynn's Libertyville shop. The handbags go through a variety of stages in the shop, starting in the fabric cutting area and then on to the industrial sewing machines, where the bags start to take shape.
Holzwarth said the industrial sewing machines were expensive, "but they allow us to create quality bags."
From there, the bags are moved to the sewing queue for more finishing touches, including on a 1940s Singer sewing machine.
"And we do all of our own hardware," said Holzwarth, explaining that everything, including the grommets, is part of the handbag creation process at LexiWynn.
The shop's 30 feet of wall-to-wall assembly space ends in the small shipping area.
Holzwarth said the shop can make 80 custom bags in a week. With so many possible combinations, the bags are unique. Holzwarth said customers often remark that they've been stopped in stores and asked about the bags, each of which displays the LexiWynn label.
"They're high-quality and half the price of a designer bag," with the average handbag costing about $100, depending on the fabrics, Holzwarth said.
The shop also offers off-the-rack, one-of-a-kind bags in its boutique area.
The LexiWynn handbags are sold across the country thanks to the company's network of 30 design consultants who sell the bags through purse parties. Holzwarth said he and Alexa are hoping to add 50 more design consultants in 2013. The parties can also be held in-store at LexiWynn.
Something for the Guys
The concept of adding bags for men came up a couple of years ago, Holzwarth said, when a customer asked about getting a bag for her husband. The company created a messenger bag for the woman. Holzwarth's wife and business partner, Alexa, also made one for him for Valentine's Day one year.
"It's just a great bag," said Holzwarth. "I have carried it for a year and a half."
It's particularly useful during his bike commute to work; the bag has an easily-adjustable strap that keeps the bag in place.
"We thought, there's something here," said Holzwarth. Using Alexa's maiden name, Cross, and and the inspiration of her late grandfather's Virginia Tech sabre, the Cross Bag name was born.
There's also a plan to add a backpack to the Cross Bag line.
"It's going to look different than anything else out there," said Holzwarth.
There are also leather Drink Jackets, or koozies, that can hold both cans and bottles.
Growing the Business—and How You Can Help
The Holzwarths are now aiming to grow their business through a Kickstarter campaign that will help raise capital to invest in the company and raise awareness of the products. The goal is to raise $20,000 through pledges. "Backers" who pledge money can receive a gift depending on how much money they pledged. For example, if someone pledges $28, he or she will receive a Drink Jacket. If someone pledges $142 or more, he or she will receive a waxed canvas tote.
Any money pledged that is above and beyond the cost of the materials and labor for the gifts can then be kept by the Holzwarths to invest into their company.
As of Feb. 11, with 22 days to go, LexiWynn had 45 backers on Kickstarter, with $5,913 pledged.
The minimum pledge is $1.
LexiWynn's Kickstarter campaign will end March 6. To pledge your support, visit the LexiWynn Kickstarter campaign website.