“If you have an idea, go ahead instead of thinking on it again and again.” This statement is that of a very successful woman who wants to start her own business. Barbara Bradley And Patricia R. Miller, The founder of the well-known brand Vera Bradley. Vera Bradley is a popular American bag designing company.
According to Forbes magazine, Barbara and Patricia are among the few American women to reach the pinnacle of their hard work. The success story of her popular brand Vera Bradley is associated with interesting nostalgia and unexpected beginnings.
In 1982, Barbara Bradley and her close friend Patricia Miller were to fly from Atlanta. At the airport, she noticed that most of the women were travelling with unmarked bags. The design of the bags disappointed her a lot, and this is where her designer started working on the idea of making bags.
Barbara and Patricia, a stay-at-home mom, did not have the money to start their own company, so she bought some floral, padded cotton clothes to make colourful bags from her husband for $ 250 (about Rs 16,000). The two started working in Barbara’s basement. After a few days, she put an advertisement in the newspapers for people who wanted to do sewing work from their homes. She would cut the clothes on a ping-pong table and put it in a bag with a zipper and other essentials to the women who would take it home and sew it.
Barbara’s mother, a former model, was a major inspiration source for women. She decided to name the company Vera Bradley after her.
There was a time when she needed money to carry on her work. A friend of her believed this and gave her a check of 2,500 dollars (about 1.6 lakh rupees). She said that if they were successful, it would be a loan. If they were not successful, it would be a gift. This check proved to be a great help to her. In the first year, she sold a product of 10,000 dollars (about Rs 6.44 lakh), and by the end of the third year, hse had a turnover of $ 1 million.
In 1984, she rented her place for sewing work so that she could concentrate on marketing and sales. Initially, they did not know how to fix prices or how to analyze costs. For this, she approached a non-profit organization ‘SCORE’ (Service Corp of Retired Executives), which provides free business advice to entrepreneurs. ‘Score’ assigned a volunteer to support them. They started contacting shops, showing their bags, which increased their sales.
In 2007 Barbara and Patricia opened their first retail store. Their customers range from 8 to 80 years old. They launched a huge range of baby bags, student backpacks, and accessories. The designs were designed according to the designers, inspired by English and French designs and keeping in mind the American preference.
Friends and family have been very supportive in the growth of the business. Barbara still remembers what her father told her,
“In business, you present yourself first, second to your company and third to products. Builds business relationships, and the company is a reflection of your ethics. “
In the early 1990s, she lost a dear friend due to breast cancer. Barbara and co-founder Patricia founded the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. Which has donated more than $ 10 million to the Indiana University Cancer Center.
Barbara Bradley and Patricia Miller, the founders of a brand with annual sales of more than 550 million dollars from an ordinary housewife, have become notable people in the American fashion industry. Their friendship has always been the basis of Vera Bradley’s success. Today the label is known for its colourful prints and high soft padded quality cotton bags. The Vera Bradley brand has become one among other favourite American brands. Recently the brand has expanded its product offering from just handbags to clothes, perfumes, jewellery, eyeglasses etc.
What started off as a workshop on ping pong desks in 1982 is a vivid imagination now a symbol of global success. Barbara and Patricia’s journey is truly inspiring.