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Article: Q & A with Sophie Summer Founder Josefina Villanueva Alonso

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Q & A with Sophie Summer Founder Josefina Villanueva Alonso

We've been busy building this site and we're glad you're with us!

We wanted to give you a little flavour of who we are and why Sophie Summer came about. So, we managed to grab a quick chat with our very busy founder Josefina Villanueva Alonso, to talk all things handbags and sustainable fashion.  We also sneaked in a quick fire round, just for fun. Here's what she had to say.

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Hi Joie, thank you for taking time out of your, no doubt, busy schedule to chat to us.

My pleasure. Let's do this!  

First things first, can we assume summer is your favourite season?

Absolutely! There's something about waking up to a bright sunny day outside that just sets your mood and productivity for the rest of the day. A more perfect day would be some sun and some breeze, not too hot, not too cold. Imagine if it was grey and gloomy outside, what would you feel?

We couldn't agree more! So tell us, how did you become interested in sustainable fashion?

I didn't really know there was a name for it. Where I'm from [The Philippines], I see a lot of these bags made from dried palm or banana leaves or carefully handwoven fabric that are so unique and one of a kind. These bags are never perfect, but I love texture in everything. I think texture adds another layer to their beauty. And them being sustainable was just a happy accident. It's icing on the cake that these high-quality bags are made from renewable materials. Today, we need to be more socially conscious about our choices and fashion is one of them. If there is a more sustainable option to being stylish and fashionable, why wouldn't we take it?

Absolutely, so, on a similar theme, why did you concentrate on handbags?

I can only sell something I personally love, use, and believe in.

So why handbags? Ask any girl and she either loves bags or shoes. We have an irrational fondness to either of these. For some girls, it's shoes. For others, it's both. For me, a handbag is both form and function, practical and a status symbol. It can make or break your look. It can complete a perfectly styled outfit, or instantly glamorise basic white-shirt-and-jeans attire. Unlike shoes, it's within your range of sight -- it's either on your shoulder or by your arm. Put it on the table and it becomes a conversation piece. Hang a luxury bag on your shoulder and it's an instant status boost. It's practical too -- you can put stuff in it, your valuables and necessities to make you run your day as normal. With shoes, it doesn't matter how much it costs, if you stand on it for a long time or walk on a rough surface, it's bound to get ruined or damage your feet. Shoes have a short shelf life, and you have to look down to notice them. With a good handbag, you just know instantly if someone has taste and we judge people by their choices. I didn't mean to rationalise my handbag obsession but apparently, answering this question, there's actually an explanation behind it! (laughs)

Ha don't worry, it's great to hear you talk so passionately. What do you carry in your handbag on a day-to-day basis?

Cards. Mobile. A red lipstick. Hand gel. And likely a milk bottle and wet wipes.

Do you have a favourite handbag on the site?

The Sash clutch. It's a classic design I can take anywhere with me. Apart from that, I love all of the bags here, really! If I could use all of them myself, I would! I am my first customer. If quality and style are not to my own high standard, I can't sell it, I just can't.

Absolutely! Ok, we've just got a couple of quick fire questions to see which you prefer:

Sea or sky?

Sky. It literally broadens my horizon, frees my mind as I wait for that creative inspiration to kick in. But I like the sound of waves.

Cats or dogs?

Cats. They don't care too much about the world around them. They just do their thing.

Tea or coffee?


Sweet or savoury?

Savoury. And it's easy to make savoury dishes too. It's more spontaneous. With sweets and baking, you need to measure everything.

Bath or shower?


Heels or flats?

That's a hard one. Heels are sexy and support posture. Flats are unassumingly elegant.

Suit up or keep it casual?

Suit up.

Smokey eye/statement lip?

Statement lip. When I was a kid, an older sister used to tease me that my lips were too big so I should keep smiling to "thin them up". I guess that's where my habit of smiling all the time started. Decades after, I'm really pleased and proud of my naturally full lips.

Play that funky music/anything for a quiet life

Funky for dancing!

I like it bright/keep it muted

Depends on the purpose. Muted for elegance, bright for statement.

Finally, the last question before we let you go, what can we expect from Sophie Summer in the future?

Loads and loads of carefully chosen handbags and statement pieces by artisans and designers who are as talented and creative as anyone on the high street. They just need to be more visible on the online world's stage and that's where the Sophie Summer platform comes in to reach the wider, global audience. We will definitely be diversifying into other pieces of luxury... but, for now, we're focused on bags, bags, bags.

There you have it, we may not be able to stop the shorter nights and chilly mornings rolling in but, at Sophie Summer, the future is looking warm and bright.


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