Esse’s Local Designer Spotlight- Big and Purty Custom Clutches by Tracy

”Carry the statement accessory by Big and Purty and be the rave of the room!”

Supporting the local economy is one of the foundations for Esse’s Museum and Store. Because we are an independent (woman-owned!) establishment, we strive to highlight local artisans and designers of handbags, jewelry and accessories alongside those from around the world. Luckily, Arkansas is a very creative, eclectic place to find makers like Tracy, owner and designer of Big and Purty Custom Clutches. She took some time to discuss her line, inspiration, textiles and more!


Who is the Big and Purty customer? Is there a specific style aesthetic that you see in your clients?

The Big and Purty customer is EVERYONE!!  They come from all walks of life, all genres and every age group!  There is no specific style aesthetic in my clients.  I have created custom bags for toddlers, music lovers, hair stylists, the modern apothecarist, the everyday shopper and the CEO of a nonprofit.  Everyone has a style and they each want something unique that reflects that.


What aspects of your personal taste and style do your try to convey in your designs? As these evolve, do you see an evolution from your early designs to your current work? 

I love color! Every piece that I make whether it is for a man or woman, I try to always sneak in a pop of contrasting color.  Whether it be the zipper, the satin lining or the top stitching.  I always want there to be a little WOW. As far as how my work has evolved, I take more risks now.  In the beginning I was very consumer driven and I allowed them to dictate every aspect.  I've freed myself from that now.  A client gives me a base and I take it from there. Also, I study the construction of bags more. I want them to be able to stand the test of time so I put a lot of work into what MAKES the bag instead of just making it "pretty.”


Many of your designs are FABric-based, using bright colors and interesting designs in your cross body bags and (of course!) your clutches. What inspires your textile and fabrication selections why?

Having a background in home sewing I grew to love fabric long before making bags came along.  Secondly, having a background in biological sciences enhanced my love for texture and odd "things" if you would.  I LOVE texture.  I love touching my fabrics. So I want my client to be able to not only fall in love with the look of my bags, but the feel of them also.  Touch is a very important sense to humans and it's one of the ways that we become familiar with people and objects. So I'm am always on the hunt while I travel for fabrics that can not only draw you in with it's appearance but also with it's texture.


One of your crossbody bags (which was quickly snapped up at Esse!) featured singer/goddess Nina Simone. As a designer, is it important to feature women and particularly, women of color? What about Nina Simone made you choose her your design?

Ah yes.... As a woman of color it is very important to me that we are not only behind the scenes but that we are integrated in a way that we can also be seen in the finished product.  I chose Nina Simone because she is an icon. She is a black woman that is recognizable by women from all backgrounds. Although Nina was my personal choice, I have also done bags in the likeness of Dorothy Dandridge and Erykah Badu for clients.


As you grow the Big and Purty brand, where do you see yourself as an artist and designer? What is the next step for your line both locally and in the broader market?

As Big and Purty evolves, my goals are to eventually step away from the sewing machine and focus more on the art of the bag. Locally and abroad I'd love to see the brand become a staple on the shelves of small women owned boutiques around the world.  I travel almost monthly to other states to vend at events in order to gain the exposure Big and Purty needs to expand.  It isn't just about sales for me but also brand recognition.  Big and Purty is a brand for the woman that has her own sense of style and is very confident in that.

VIsit Esse in store or online to check out this FABulous local designer!