The official holiday shopping season began with Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday and then we had Small Business Saturday thrown in. I like to believe that I don’t need a public relation campaign to get me to show support to my local fashion/ business community. I have been on this Shop Local bandwagon for years and NOT just during the holidays.
One such local vendor, who I recently had the good fortune to meet, is the talented handbag designer, Shaunt Sarian. He has long been one of Boston’s best-kept secrets; known and respected by those in the industry but not having the name recognition beyond that tight community.
Shaunt Sarian, who grew up in Lebanon, of Armenian descent, moved to the United States in 1976. He brought with him his skills, which were honed while working at the family business in Beirut, in the art of turning high-end leather and exotic skins into gorgeous handbags.
Sarian initially worked for designers Anne Klein, Donna Karan and Cole Haan, developing and helping to build their accessory brands. In 1989 he established his own line featuring leather tanned specifically for handbags & accessories as well as sting ray, ostrich, alligator, python, lizard and calf skin. He travels the world to source his signature hardware (and if he can’t find what he is looking for, he will develop it himself).
After working from his Wayland home studio for years, selling his bags wholesale at accessory circuit shows and direct to those lucky enough to be “in the know”, Sarian opened his own store in Newton Center this past July. He has expanded his work to include bracelets, belts, wallets and the very practical cell-phone case.
Python purses, patent leather clutches, calf skin hobo bags, ostrich satchels, and sting ray wallets are just the beginning of your many options. In the center of the space lies a table full of leathers and skins should you want to customize a bag specific to you. Shaunt has a workshop adjacent to the space where he makes new works of art in addition to repairing older, well-loved bags. He will even repair that Louis Vuitton bag you have always loved, but by comparison, now seems a bit “common”.
I’m always happy to stay out of the Big Box and chain stores with their illusions of deep discounts. I prefer to direct my spending power to the small businesses and entrepreneurs who are my neighbors and friends. Shop local everyday!