With an eponymous new store at Domain Northside, Kelly Wynne her unique, bold bags and colorful, confident clutches.
Kelly Wynne, who collected handbags as a girl, is opening her first brick-and-mortar boutique at Domain Northside.
Austin handbag designer Kelly Wynne will never forget an offhand comment made to her during a trip to New York early in her career when she arrived at a meeting decked out in a white peplum top and bright yellow jeans. “You must be from Texas,” a potential supplier said. It was a playful observation, but one that gave her confidence in her choices.
“Texas and Austin have pushed me to think outside the box with my personal style as well as with handbags,” Wynne says. “It’s encouraged me to dare to come out with bold prints.” From her watermelon crocodile wristlets to fringed python satchels, Wynne— whose handbags are available at more than 50 retailers across the country as well as online—is clearing a path for herself among designers by being loud and proud in her choice of colors and fabrics. The path has led to her first brick-and-mortar store, which will open at the Domain Northside at the end of September.
Sketches and swatches from Kelly Wynne’s fall line of bags, called Heartbeat (she’s also doing a line just for Austin called Dear 512).
Frustrated with a career in public relations, Wynne, a longtime handbag collector, decided four years ago to turn her side passion into something larger. She spent lunch breaks visiting fabric suppliers and leather shops to ask questions. “I love looking back at my journey to see how each person led me to the next person,” Wynne recalls from her downtown Austin headquarters. “I put myself in a very vulnerable place because I had no idea if people would like my designs.”
Her flagship store at Domain Northside will give Wynne the chance to create a complete experience for her fans as well as newcomers to the line. Her goal is to “create a celebratory and social atmosphere,” which will certainly get a boost from a champagne lounge. Instead of a traditional cash wrap, sales associates will check customers out from anywhere in the store. For her grand opening weekend starting September 30, anyone who purchases a bag will have the chance to win a $1,000 gift card.
Wynne will also debut her “Dear 512” collection, inspired by Austin’s unique vibe and featuring five new styles, each with solid leather and classic, neutral colors for day-to-day wear. While the colors might be toned down, the design aesthetic is 100 percent Wynne. Says the designer, “They still have that Kelly Wynne twist. They won’t be a shape you see everyday.” Reaching even more of the local market is important to Wynne. “Seeing someone in public that I don’t know wearing a Kelly Wynne bag, it’s so surreal.” The Domain Northside, 512-472-5762