Jennifer is one of those few people who was able to turn her beloved pastime into a way to make a living. “I get so excited about making bags. I never thought I could do it as a real job!” Jennifer, of Jendarling Bags, began designing and producing bags in 2008 in the scarce free time her 9-5 job afforded her. Over the past three years, her hobby has quickly turned into an all-consuming endeavor: she debuted her first collection at the London Fashion Week, at an Ethical Fashion event, at The Hospital Club, and she has been featured by local news sources such as DailyCandy, Treehugger and San Francisco’s beloved local magazine, 7X7.
Jen’s one-of-a-kind bags are a reflection of her diverse background and interests. With degrees ranging from nonprofit management and business to working at an environmental agency, she drew from each of these experiences when developing her company.
As a businesswoman and an environmentalist, Jen prides herself on her business’ commitment to sustainability: various collections incorporate sustainable efforts such as using local, fair trade and organic materials. Many of the zippers are nickel-free, and she relies on mostly reclaimed materials for the bags. All of the leather comes from nearby Napa and is manufactured right here in the Bay Area, supporting local jobs and reducing the carbon footprint inherent in outsourcing.
Jen recently landed a partnership to sell her bags in a high-end retail store. “I was thrilled to land this account because it will open my business to a whole new array of clients!” said Jen. However, when the retailer placed two orders for June and July, Jen realized she did not have the capital she would need to purchase nine different colors of leather to fill this large order.
Jen knew that her bank would not be interested in giving her the small loan amount she needed, nor would it be able to provide her a quick turnaround. Having learned about Opportunity Fund at San Francisco’s Small Business Week, she turned to the local microlender and was approved for a loan within days. This loan of $3,000 will help her to secure the large order with her new partner, affording her the opportunity to grow her business.
Jen takes pride in her fabrics, her mission and her commitment to sustainability. She dreams one day of opening up her own boutique devoted to the same values.
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