We've all been there, packing for a vacation and not knowing what kind of purse to bring. Will you need a clutch? And if so, should you bring a neutral color to match all your outfits or should you bring your fun bright colored bag? If you are like me, you end up just packing a bag of bags because who knows what the week may bring!
D.C. resident, Melissa Urfirer had this exact problem on a trip to Miami. "I packed a brightly printed clutch for the weekend and didn't realize until I arrived that it clashed with just about everything else I packed. My suitcase was already overstuffed, so there was no way that I could have packed a second bag even if I had remembered to bring more than one," explained Urfirer. "I had an 'ah-ha' moment and set up an LLC pretty much right after I got back from my trip." It was that trip that made Urfirer start her own luxury handbag line, Riley Versa.
I caught up with Urfirer to get the scoop on Riley Versa, and how she sees it fitting into the hectic city she calls home, Washington, D.C.
What is Riley Versa?
Riley Versa is the only bag you’ll ever need! Riley Versa is a line of bags created with the idea that one bag really can have it all. You no longer have to choose between the practical neutral tone and the season’s hottest trend. Riley Versa’s interchangeable magnetic covers allow you to be boldly VERSA-tile with your fashion choices at all times. By seamlessly switching the exterior of your bag, you can transform it into a completely new bag in seconds!
Where did the name come from?
When I was brainstorming names, everything I came up with just didn’t sound right! I had things on the list that were French…but I don’t speak a word of French. Riley has always been my favorite name, so I decided to look it up and to my surprise, the definition is “a luxurious or carefree existence”. I was sold. And then I added “Versa” because the bag is so VERSA-tile.
What/who is your biggest inspiration?
My grandmother. She is the most polished woman I have ever known, and she has a style that is distinctly hers. She is 83-years-old and still looks like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue.
What was the biggest challenge in starting your own business?
I think the biggest challenge is wanting to do everything at once. It’s hard, but you have to prioritize what really, truly needs to be done immediately and what can wait.
Proudest moment as a business owner so far?
My proudest moment as a business owner so far was when a woman stopped me on the street in Manhattan to ask where I got my bag! This was a really important moment for me because I love the concept of interchangeable covers, but for me, it has always been extremely important that the bag stands on its own. I want people to love the bag because it’s a beautiful bag, and then think: “wow, and I can change the cover!”
How do you think Riley Versa fits into the D.C. scene?
I think D.C. is an incredibly dynamic city with so many different styles, so you need a bag that can keep up! If you’re going to brunch in Georgetown, you might wear one cover, but if you’re going for drinks in Shaw, you’ll probably want a different cover! Riley Versa is great because instead of constantly switching bags (and forgetting a lip gloss in one bag, and your credit card in another) you can keep everything organized in one bag and simply swap out the cover.
What do you hope your customers tell their friends about your bags?
Two things -- One: that they love how it looks and makes them feel. And two: they love the functionality. I want people to love Riley Versa bags for the aesthetics and then an added bonus is the capability to change the cover and look of the bag. I want customers to tell their friends that it allowed them to experiment with new trends, stay organized and save space at home and while traveling.
What do you hope for the future of Riley Versa?
To keep introducing new style bags and exciting new covers. I also want to continue to connect Riley Versa to charitable organizations that I care about. In October, I donated 100% of the profits from our “Blushing Beauty” rose quartz cover to The Pink Agenda, a breast cancer research organization. I would love to continue to develop that kind of partnership in the future.
Where can people get the bags?
Online at RileyVersa.Com! We are always doing pop-ups and trunk shows around the country as well, so if you’re interested, you should definitely sign up for our mailing list (at RileyVersa.Com) or follow us on Instagram (@RileyVersa) to stay up to date!