A loan of $9,600 helped to pay for designing and manufacturing luggage cases.


Darlene's story

Darlene L. makes an all-purpose luggage case for students and professionals needing durable, practical, yet attractive bags. What differentiates Darlene’s bag from others is its design. Divided into compartments that are stacked like shelves, it is ideal for storing books, electronics, clothes and more. Set on wheels, the bag is easy to transport.

The idea of creating an ultra-efficient luggage case came to Darlene when her daughter, a sophomore in college, complained of not having an efficient bag for carrying her belongings around campus. Soon after, Darlene came up with the bag’s initial design as she was driving back from a conference in Mississippi. Now, nearly a year later, Darlene has a provisional patent and a prototype (see picture) that she is in the process of refining.

Darlene has hired a product design firm to help her finalize the bag’s layout and composition materials. A manufacturing company will make the bag, which she hopes will begin final production within the next three to six months. This loan helps Darlene finish refining the bag’s design and allows her to manufacture samples that can be physically tested. The loan also provides her with the capital to manufacture a very small initial batch of the final product.

Darlene is originally from New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. She works nights as a bridge operator, which she likes because it frees her to work with her manufacturer and design consultant during business hours. Previously, she worked at a community health clinic for the city of New Orleans, but the clinic closed after Hurricane Katrina. She is a published author, having written Spend Your Last Dollar: God’s Plan of Salvation, a book that draws lessons from the Bible and applies them to everyday life. Darlene is married with three grown children.



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