Melissa Urfirer, founder of Riley Versa, came up with the idea for her luxury handbag brand after struggling to pack for a trip to Miami.
The brand, which consists of bags and interchangeable magnetic covers, launched earlier this year and will be featured at the upcoming Nolcha Shows media lounge during New York Fashion Week in September.
This season, Fashion Times has teamed up with Nolcha to be a media sponsor of the lounge, which features emerging brands, and throughout the next few months, we'll be highlighting various participating brands on our site. Keep reading for our first interview with Urfirer, and keep checking back with us as we cover more brands.
1. What inspired you to launch Riley Versa?
"I've always loved fashion, but what really inspired me to launch Riley Versa was a personal desire for the product. It all started on a trip to Miami when I packed a brightly printed clutch for the weekend. I didn't realize until I arrived that it clashed with everything else I had packed. I wished I had a statement and neutral option, but I couldn't have fit two handbags in my already exploding suitcase. I had an 'aha' moment and Riley Versa was born: one bag with interchangeable magnetic covers. I realized I probably wasn't the only woman who would appreciate owning a single bag capable of multiple looks, and decided I needed to create it."
2. What was the hardest part about getting your business off the ground?
"Knowing what to do first! There are so many components that go into launching a brand. I think the hardest part was figuring out how to prioritize."
3. What made you want to participate in Nolcha's lounge during NYFW?
"I launched Riley Versa this year, so it is a fantastic opportunity to introduce the brand to the fashion community."
4. What other designers do you look up to?
"Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel — what they did with Mansur Gavriel is unbelievable. They only launched Mansur Gavriel in 2012 and have already created a cult following."
5. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
"Everywhere — art, fashion, interior design, nature, old movies..."
6. Where are you traveling this summer and what Riley Versa covers do you plan to bring?
"This summer I'll be spending time in the Hamptons and Hawaii. Riley Versa covers are so easy to pack that I'll be bringing all six covers in the collection!"
7. What are your must-have items when you're traveling?
"My number one must-have item for summer travel is my hat. I hate being in the sun without it! My beauty must-haves are my Kimara Ahnert tinted moisturizer and Clé de Peau concealer (seriously magical)."
8. What are your favorite places to hang out in NYC?
"I love walking around and exploring new areas, trying new restaurants and checking out new boutiques. Chelsea Market and Lincoln Plaza Cinema (independent movie theater on the Upper West Side) are also two of my favorite places in the city."
9. If you could steal anyone's handbag collection, who would you pick and why?
"Olivia Palermo — she is my style icon. She always looks flawless and always has a new bag, so I would not mind getting my hands on her collection!"
10. Where do you see you and your brand in five years?
"In five years, I see Riley Versa having an extensive product line with bags in all shapes and sizes and a wide range of unique covers for each type of bag. I also envision developing a charitable component to the bags in the future. I would like to create covers for different organizations I care about and donate the profits to them."