New Handbag Obsession: Sarabella James

Jannis D'Alessandri, founder and designer for Sarabella James handbags

A few months ago, I met my business mentor for lunch and she had the CUTEST handbag. She told me her girlfriend made it! I couldn’t believe it. First of all, it looked way too high-end to be hand-made. Second of all, I knew I needed to meet this handbag making maven immediately.

At the time she didn’t have a website, and she only sold her bags at private shows, so I was stumped… until a little birdie told me about a show she was doing and invited me to it. So, I finally got to meet her and see all of her designs!

Her name is Jannis D’Alessandri and her company is Sarabella James. From talking with her, I learned that this best-kept-secret of a handbag company started 10 years ago. She just made a few bags for herself, and would get stopped constantly by women wanting to know where she bought her bag. She then made a few for friends and family. Turns out they, too, were stopped and asked where to get a bag like that.

But this Edgewood KY-based gal was a busy mother of three (hence the name “Sarabella James”), so she put her bags and dreams of being a designer up on the shelf for a while.

In 2010, Jannis attended a large textile show in Los Angeles, and happened to be carrying one of her handbags while browsing the textile vendors. To her surprise, her bag again received a slew of attention. But this time, the attention was coming from high profile designers, buyers, and professionals in the fashion industry.

By chance, Jannis met and began to share a vision and business partnership with a small manufacturer. She had one requirement though: no mass production. She wanted each Sarabella James handbag to be proudly and meticulously handmade in the USA, with no two alike.

Today, she imports textiles from around the world – France, Italy, England, Germany, India, Thailand, Hong Kong and South America just to name a few – and she produces posh purses in a variety of sizes:

  • Slouchy Hobos, Bucket Bags and Pouches
  • Structured Satchels and Totes
  • Pudgy Petites
  • Worthy Wristlets
  • Charismatic Cross Bodies and Clutches

She also just launched a new website – – and started a Facebook fanpage. Keep this local lady on your radar – and on your arm if you’re so fashionably inclined – because she is headed for stylish stardom!

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