Current Safety Procedures

The safety of our guests, our employees and loved ones, as well as our community is our number one priority. Starting May 19th, we have decided to implement the following temporary procedures:

  • ALL employees and guests must wear a CDC approved face covering while in the store and/or museum. *We have a limited supply of  masks that we will gladly give to guests without a face covering, while supplies last.
  • We have sanitizing stations placed throughout the building. When you first enter the store, we ask that you please use the provided sanitizer or thoroughly wash your hands before touching any merchandise. We also have a limited supply of latex-free gloves available.
  • We ask that you practice social distancing and remain 6ft away from other guests and employees at all time.
  • In order to make social distancing easier, we ask that our guests travel "one-way" through the museum.
  • We are limiting the number of guests allowed in the museum and/or store to 10 people at any given time.
  • Private appointments are available, but they must be scheduled in advance. Contact us for more information or to schedule. 

As we continue to learn more about this virus and receive updated suggestions from experts, we will adjust and evolve our procedures accordingly. Please call us at 501.916.9022 or email us at with any questions you may have.


ESSE Purse Museum tells the evolution of 20th-century American woman through the bags she carried and their contents. The museum shop sells high-quality and highly unusual handbags, as well as handmade, eclectic jewelry and accessories.

Soruka Bag: WT-833
Kua Clutch Bag: Yaaba

What is ESSE?

The name “ESSE” is derived from the Latin verb esse “to be.” In fact, esse is one of the oldest verb forms in the language, rooting words like “essential” and “essence.” The concept of being, the process and potential of existence ― these serve as the catalysts for honoring the feminine. The interconnectedness of the female experience, those trials that are common across the spectrum of the woman, in all her forms, should be acknowledged, preserved, and celebrated. It is women, all women, to whom we pay tribute. 

What Do We Do?

By gathering artifacts from the 20th Century woman, we at the ESSE Purse Museum are not simply showcasing accessories but rather making HERstory tangible and familiar. It is often the smallest details, the scribbled notes in the margins of our history that truly encompass the female experience. As our museum takes you on the journey of the 20th Century woman, it is not only the sense of nostalgia but also the sense of solidarity that you will feel. Celebrating women does not only manifest through our museum but also our carefully curated store. Items that line our shelves are not based on fast-fashion and fleeting trends, big name brands, or mass producers. Ethical business practices, fair trade, independent makers and small (often women-owned) businesses are at the heart of our store’s philosophy. The stories attached to each stitch of a scarf hand-woven in Nepal, the delicate beading of a handmade clutch from Guatemala, or the jewelry crafted with found objects from the United States ― these are the foundation for our inventory. Women creating businesses that partner with female artisans and makers throughout the world, small companies that donate a portion of every sale to a charity and the independent maker using their talents to raise awareness ― these are the partnerships we foster for our customers. Fast-fashion assumes the customer is solely product-driven while we know the final product reflects the sum of its parts.

Where We Are Going?

As many aspects of our world are in flux, we must adapt to that changing landscape. Though it is unclear if these are permanent arrangements or temporary adjustments, we will continue to evolve, welcoming change while maintaining our core mission. From Virtual Exhibits of our Museum to just being available for our customers’ inquiries, ESSE will remain focused on honoring women, artisans and the stories that make us unique and connected. We appreciate your support as we navigate the changes with you.

Comeco Wallet: Pug Puppy

Coloring Book: Erte Fashions-ESSE Purse Museum & Store
Hemlock Bandana-ESSE Purse Museum & Store

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