We recently had a chance to sit with Quilted Koala Co-founder Stephanie Oppenheim at their 'Champagne, treats and bags - oh my!' event where we had an up close and personal look at some of the most useful, colorful and simply divine bags and boxes a woman could own. Complemented by some tasty treats and champagne, this event was delightful, and reinforced the fact that you can never have too many bags, organizers, and nested boxes!
BT: How did Quilted Koala Come To Be?
"Well, I really always want to use my husband's fabric for finished goods and so I've been obsessed with it because he's always had beautiful fabric for quilters. Quilted Koala got started because I really thought that other people would enjoy these fabrics. That was the inspiration and Quilted Koala comes from a picture of David at a family party when he was a very little boy and he's holding a koala that his grandmother brought him back from one of her world trips. He wouldn't go anywhere without his his little koala bear. We started developing a line that is fun and engaging. I wanted the colors to be bright and cheerful.
The first two collections are called Happy and Joyful. One of them is based on the designs of a graphic designer who has done a stationary line.
It's very bold and very graphic - and then (came) Joyful. I just really fell in love with all the prints, I wanted to develop them into fabrics and that is what we did. I worked on them with David's head designer so its collaboration and it's just really fun. We really wanted the bags to be soft so when you hold on they just feel like a little bit of joy for the day. Like today I walked out with a pink Joyful bag and it was pouring rain. I was really anxious but it's just happy; That's how you should feel when we use our bags.
BT: It’s like taking a little piece of home with you.
Stephanie: Exactly right - just like that little koala bear.
BT: There are different size bags here. I see a nice quilted large bag for possibly packing away or a weekender.
Stephanie: We started with seven different bags in the collection. So, there's a duffel bag so you can go away for the weekend with your things and carry them along. There's a big tote, which is very roomy. It was really important as a mom for me to have something that you could put everything in but still feel just stylish but their deep pockets so you stay organized a little bit.
Then we have a medium-sized tote which I thought would appeal to working women but what I've discovered on college campuses is that the bag they all want because it fits your laptop perfectly. So, they can go to class with the bag and they really like that. We have two different cosmetic pouches. The bigger one is lined because I hate when things spill because it's a mess. And then the smaller ones are not lined - I use them for my computer wires which drive me crazy. I love having one bag that's just for all my wires. I really like using our large cosmetic bag for my iPad, it also fits my camera if I want to use my big camera. I like things to be put away and easily accessible. We also have a jewelry roll that I love because it keeps everything from getting tangled.
The jewellery roll will house the necklace, the rings and everything. It has separate compartments. It has a strap for your rings. It's small. It's meant to be not for every piece of jewellery you have that's just for going away. So now when you are traveling, you have your things, you know where they are, and they're protected because it's quilted and rolled. They're all put away nicely and they fit the bag and everything coordinates.
BT: Let’s talk about my favourite items, the organizers.
Stephanie: The boxes are where we started, and I love organizing closets. It's one of the
things I'm kind of obsessed about. So, the box has three boxes that comes with it. They are nested into each other and are just perfect for putting your things away. You can label them, and they're beautifully crafted. There's a lot of boxes out there, but we really pride ourselves that our boxes are beautifully put together. They are covered in fabric and lined with paper that is beautifully coordinated. Then we also have bins as well. For 2015, we'll be doing smaller desk sized bins for your letters and to take things to go in. We will also have jewelry boxes. We have a lot of other really new and exciting things coming as well.
BT: What are your price points from the boxes to the bag collections?
I wanted the bags to be completely affordable so everyone can get into Quilted Koala and enjoy it. You can never have enough bags, but I also think sometimes bags are now becoming completely ridiculous pricewise. So, the duffels are $118, the big, big, big tote is $125, and the bags a step down from there are $89 to $59. The cosmetic bags are more towards prices under $30. The idea is to make it really affordable so you can have a couple of them and change it up from time to time. The boxes, depending on what size you're buying start at $20.
We also have a set of nested ovals. That are based on the designs that we did for the Downtown Abbey line. There are done in collaboration with the costume designer of the show. And these are all based on historic designs. They come in four different color ways.
These I love. I personally will take a bunch of them to make a gift bag basket and put little things into each one of them and then wrap it up with a big ribbon. You can also use them for jewelry and some people use them for trinkets.