Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Glad Christmas Bells

I survived Thanksgiving (Wheww!) and I am onto the crazy holiday season that now besieges us.  I have created special items just for this time of year with hopes that people who previously found me expensive (who me???) will log on and support me now.  Butter soft leather wristlets and cross body purses in snappy, vibrant colors are readily available (and affordable) at www.skwilbur.com.  I am also participating in some holiday shopping events around the tri-state area, so please continue to follow and support my activities.
SK Santa busy at the sewing machine
My refrain for several years has been "It's hard out here for a pimp!"  Borrowed from the Terrence Howard film Hustle & Flow, it expresses my sentiments succinctly.  But I am grateful to do what I love doing.  My wish this holiday season is for everyone to find joy in their day-to-day lives.  And speaking of joy, I will be donating $5 to The Hope Program for every skwilbur.com purchase from now until Dec. 15.  So spread a little joy in some else's life and come Get Your Purse ON with SK WiLBUR!
Peace & Fashion!


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Year Later

My 45th birthday was a washout - LITERALLY.  Hurricane Sandy had decimated NYC and brought my beloved city to it's knees.   Even now, a year later, families are still displaced and homes remain uninhabitable.  Personally and professionally, my own perfect storm had wreaked havoc on my life.  I was so far in debt that I could not even see my way out of it.  And that made me question whether my fifteen year pursuit of my fashion design dream was really worth it.  There had been no balance in my life for quite some time.  All I did was work.  I had become so absorbed with "making it work" that I had little time to enjoy life's little pleasures.  As a result, I ate all my problems away and gained so much weight.  When I looked in the mirror, I didn't even recognize the joyless, fat person staring back at me.  It was Sandy that stopped me in my tracks and made me reconsider the things that really mattered.  On my birthday, in my home where I was left with no heat or electricity, I contemplated all those things and made the hard decision to forego my apparel design pursuits.  I was angry with the universe for not providing me with the opportunities necessary to become a financial success.  And I was angry with the curvy women who seemed to love what I did, but did not demonstrate their support of me monetarily.  But things always have a way of working out.

A year later, I am triumphant.  When my sister gave me a Handbag Workshop Class at a local college as a birthday gift last year, it opened my eyes to other options in design.  Now I am actually selling purses to women in Tennessee, California, and as far away as Oslo, Norway.  I finally feel validated in my design pursuits.  My bags are also being carried in two New York City stores.  I have lost 30 lbs. since my birthday last year.  And my partner of fifteen years who has supported me and loved me through the great and the not-so-great times married me earlier this year in a small, yet magical ceremony.  A year later, I feel like I am back on track.  I feel centered, more focused.  I love what I do.   Women actually demonstrate that they love what I do when they make a purchase and that really makes me feel good.  And I am taking time to enjoy the simple things again like time with family and friends, seeing museum and gallery exhibits, and exploring the city that I love so much.  So Happy 46th Birthday to me!  Sure, I could complain about some things, but I won't because I remember what last year was like.  And life is so much better now.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's New?

I haven't had time to breathe, much less blog.  But with a few stolen moments, I am using this down time to get some thoughts out there.
The SK WiLBUR + Fashion For Breakfast  Giveaway was a success.  Congratulations to MC Chau and Dori Carter!  We had over 300 entrants.  I am so thankful that my family weren't the only ones interested in the specially created carryall.  You may not have won, but everyone is a winner.  So to speak.  We are now selling a limited quantity of the style, Teena's Misdemeanor, on www.skwilbur.com.  So log on and order yours before it's too late.
Exclusive SK WiLBUR handbag styles are now being carried at The Brownstone at 24 East 125 Street in Harlem, NY.  You can't find them on our website or at any other store,  so make sure you take a trip uptown and holla at my girl, Princess, the shop's owner and buyer.
SK WiLBUR and the author/actor/TV Host Terrence J
I recently finished reading a wonderful memoir by TV personality and actor Terrence J  that really resonated for me.  "The Wealth of My Mother's Wisdom" includes anecdotes about the Queens, NY native's struggles to make his dreams come true and the advice his mom gave to him along the way.
In particular, there is a chapter titled Perseverance & Determination that made me reflect on my own struggle to get my collection into the Fifth Avenue fashion emporium Henri Bendel.  The store hosts a bi-annual Open See that allows designers to bring their wares to be reviewed by the buyers with the hopes that their lines will be picked up by the store.  I've tried on nine (9) different occasions without success.  And I swore I would never try again.  But after reading the book and since I've never tried with my purses, I am starting to reconsider.  The next Open See is this Friday, which happens to be my favorite aunt's birthday.  Maybe it's in the cards for me this time.  I'll keep you posted.
That's it for now, Fashion Gladiators.  Find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.  If you holla at me, I will definitely hit ya back.
Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Far Would You Go. . .?

I continually ask myself, "How far will you go, Wilbur?" because I always want the seemingly unattainable.  But sometimes I don't have to go very far to achieve my heart's desire.  This season, I wanted to be able to hire a professional videographer to direct a promotional short film for me.  I hadn't really vocalized it, but my wish came true anyway when I casually asked Patrick, my product photographer, if he knew of anyone.  Surprisingly, he did.  And Carlo did such an AMAZING job with the video that I am planning other projects that we can work on together.  Of course, you don't have to take my word for it.  You can watch it below or just visit www.skwilbur.com and see for yourself.  Let me know what you think.
Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Name is Bennett

Tim Tebow - A player without a team
Today is the last day of New York Fashion Week.  And, truth be told, I'm feeling a little wistful because I haven't been an active participant for several seasons.  I am sort of like the football star, Tim Tebow, who has not been given the opportunity to peacock on the playing field.  Although the air is crackling and charged with an energy that is intoxicating and everyone is cheering as the designs hit the runway, I sit sidelined in front of my computer screen or thumbing through the daily newspaper trying to keep up and engaged.
As an apparel designer, I never reached the pinnacle where I showed my collection in the tents during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.  Yet, I was savvy enough where I was able to garner the attention of the press by staging a couple of guerrilla fashion shows on the sidewalk outside the tents.  It was a lot of work, but it was great fun and I felt like my work was validated when I appeared in national newspapers and on morning talk shows.
The piece from NY Amsterdam News
These days, after reinventing myself, I am quietly plugging away with my handcrafted purses focused, instead, on making money and building my brand.  Although the pop of the flashbulbs has dimmed momentarily, I am quite pleased with my accomplishments so far.  And faster than you can say, "Fashion Touchdown," the lights will shine brighter than before.
In the meantime, check out my newest offerings at www.skwilbur.com.  And tell your friends, too!  Word of mouth is a powerful tool. 
Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Point and Shoot

This Saturday past we shot the editorial campaign for SCANDAL, my fall handbag collection.  Our small team consisted of Ashanti - my sister, muse, and the company's director, Rebecca - my sister-in-law, photographer extraordinaire, and the mother of my delicious niece & nephew, Carlo - the newest member of the SK WiLBUR posse who is a talented videographer on the rise, and, of course, yours truly - the handbag architect, purse purveyor, and self-appointed Captain Clutch.  When you get down with such a small crew in such an intimate setting, it's all just sweetness and love and LOTS of hard work.
This go round I wanted to focus on the criminal aspect of fashion and how when you want something SO bad, you're almost willing to do ANYTHING to get it.  I've provided a sneak below of one of the images so that you can get a sense of the direction we went in this season.  Stay tuned because these covetable purses will be available for purchase within the next couple of weeks at www.skwilbur.com.
Peace & Fashion!
The Crime Scene

Friday, August 23, 2013

Under the Glare of the Flashbulb

ADULTERESS Shoulder Bag photographed by Patrick Sayo

Tomorrow is the BIG day.  My sister-in-law, Rebecca Rodriguez, is shooting the editorial pics for the SCANDAL Collection - my fall line.  And I am SO excited!  I can't wait to share all the deets with you next week.  Stay Tuned!
Peace & Fashion!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

If Oprah Asked Me

Oprah & Me - The Dynamic Duo
By now, I am sure you've heard all the brouhaha concerning Oprah being dissed by a sales associate at a high end store in Switzerland.  Apparently the talk show titan/philanthropist/cable network owner/actress/billionaire wanted to see a handbag costing about $38,000 and was told that she couldn't afford it.  While I don't have anything that high end in my collection, I've got plenty of fabulosity and one thing to say, "Oprah, I've designed lots of bags and you can see any style you want!"  So if you happen to see Ms. O, just whisper in her ear that SK WiLBUR is ready, willing, and able to tend to her pocketbook needs.

Spotted Fur
Brown Tweed
Burberry Menswear


In keeping with my theme and focused on the grooviest, on-trend use of materials - menswear fabrics, leather, and faux fur, here is another sneak peek of a purse style that will be available from the SCANDAL Collection by SK WiLBUR this fall.  I think the chocolate leather and Donegal wool tweed nicely play off the spotted faux fur.  And the braided leather strap and gold metal hardware give it a luxe look.  Do you think it's a winner?  Weigh in and let me know.  And check out some of the fierce images that inspired this piece.
Peace & Fashion!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cat Fight!

Working the CAT lapels!
I love a luxurious faux fur - especially of the wild cat variety.  None of the calories and half the fat!  Plus, it's fashionably fun and bold.  So for my fall/winter collection - SCANDAL - I fully embraced it.  Of course, my inspiration came from some of the most stylish, of-the-moment runways and sidewalks, too.

Peace & Fashion!
Tabloid Fodder - A little Tabby and a lot TIGER!
Tabloid Fodder Handbag - SEEING SPOTS!

Black and White Fur - MEOW!

On the Jean Paul Gaultier Couture Runway - Feline Phenomenon


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bag IT!

I am always inspired by other talented designers.  My new "Measure 4 Measure" Handbag was inspired by a Christian Louboutin sandal from a season or two ago that I thought was so cleverly designed.  Check it out below!

Peace & Fashion!

Christian Louboutin

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Black and White and Red Allover

Painting the Fabric
Sweetheart Zebra Handbag - Almost Finished
Graphic black and white zebra gets a new spin with hand painted red hearts.  It was a long process, but I am pleased with the results.  What do you think?
By the way, I am now on Pinterest, too.  So check me out and repin some of my images.  I am still trying to figure it out myself.
See you at the Trunk Show this Saturday, July 27 at ONLY HEARTS.
Peace & Fashion!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fashion, Music, and Merriment

I am just thrilled and honored to be doing my first trunk show with Only Hearts here in NYC.  I've been working on a couple of new styles that will be available for the occasion.  And my creativity is running rampant.  I even took a break from the sewing machine to film a video.  Catch a glimpse of everything right here and MARK YOUR CALENDARS.  It all goes down on Saturday, July 27 at 4 p.m.
See you there and be sure to bring a friend (or two)!
Cambodia Camouflage Handbag with Shoulder strap and Pink Leather Accents

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Get Your SK WiLBUR Purse ON!

I am so excited and thrilled to announce that I will be doing my first trunk show, EVER.  And that means that I will have every EXOTICA bag that is in my arsenal with me at ONLY HEARTS (230 Mott Street, NYC between Prince & Spring streets) where my handbags are sold.  Any special items that are not sold on www.skwilbur.com will be available for your purchase on Saturday, July 27 from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  And you'll even be able to get a FREE gift with any SK WiLBUR purchase.
It's time for you to heed my advice and Get Your Purse ON!  Don't you think?  And don't forget to bring your friends, too.  What kind of friend would you be if you let them miss out on this kind of fabulosity?  I'm just saying. . .


Peace & Fashion!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Perspiration & Inspiration

As I sweat it out during these dog days of summer, I am busy finishing up the pieces for Fall/Winter 2013.  The purses are a mélange of wool menswear fabrics, metallic leather, and faux fur.  Here is the inspiration and the actual piece it inspired.  What do you think?
SK WiLBUR menswear-inspired purse
Paris Designer, Bouchra Jarrar

Is it going to be a winner with you ladies this Fall?
Peace & Fashion!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Purse Dreams & Other Things

I'm finally ready to write & share again.  I'm looking at the glass as half full and speaking positivity into my life.  All this Zen stuff is just a way of preparing you for what I'm about to write.
This March past, after 24 years, I was let go from my position at the plantation.  GASP!  I'm not going to go into any details because it's just not important.  But I believe that the universe pushed me out of a place of comfort & complacency so that I could pursue my purpose ALL THE TIME at full throttle.  I am grateful for my time there because I forged lifelong bonds and it  has prepared me for this next phase of my life.  Now enough about that!
Me at work on an EXOTICA purse.
I am fully immersed in purse design and construction.  If you've had a chance to visit www.skwilbur.com, then you've seen the clutches and the totes that we're offering for sale.  The purses are also available at www.etsy.com/shop/skwilbur and at Only Hearts, a charming boutique with two locations in Manhattan at 386 Columbus Avenue & 230 Mott Street.  You can find more options like shoulder bags and other colors at the boutiques.  Ashanti and I are also doing purse parties.  We were hosted for two very successful events in Queens & Brooklyn.  If you'd like to host a purse party in your home, please contact us through the site or comment on this blog post.  Hosting has its privileges because you could be eligible for a FREE SK WiLBUR PURSE.
I am now creating the fall line which will debut this September on www.skwilbur.com.  It's still under wraps and I don't want to give too much away, but I'm calling the collection SCANDAL.  I was inspired by the hit TV show starring Kerry Washington.  I am working with materials like wool menswear fabrics, metallic leathers, and faux fur and it is HAUTE, honey!  Here are a couple of sneak peek photos just to whet your appetite.  If you'd like to pre-order, let us know at info@skwilbur.com!

SK WiLBUR purse handbag clutch leather purse cosmetic case evening purse
SK WiLBUR purse handbag traveltote animalprint 

Well, I need to get back to the matter at hand, and that is purse construction.  But I promise to be better  at keeping in touch with you!  Enjoy your weekend!
Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Road To Recovery

Birthday Cake in the dark after SANDY
Last year, my birthday was a catalyst for my Perfect Storm.  On October 31, I turned forty-five - a blessing, to be sure.  My family survived Hurricane Sandy with only a loss of power that lasted five days.  Compared to so many families who lost their homes, it was just a minor inconvenience.  For the most part, I came through the storm unscathed.  It, however, became a moment of introspection and re-evaluation.  I began to question my commitment to my fashion design career.  I'd eaten my way through frustration and disappointment reaching an all-time high of 245 lbs.  I was not being supported for my hard work and dedication by the full-figured women who claimed to love my aesthetic.  And, worse, joy was missing from my life.  After fifteen years of hard work and little monetary reward, I was burnt out.  It was crucial for me to make some changes in my life.   Angry with God, I made the difficult decision to turn my back on apparel.

The Large Cambodia Camouflage Clutch
There is that overused cliche, "It is always darkest before the dawn."  But it seemed to apply to my life as I was about to move in another brighter direction.  Around my birthday, my sister sent me an email about a day-long Handbag Workshop that was being offered at LIM College.  "I'll send you for your birthday, if you are interested, " she wrote.  "Of course," was my response.  My shapeless future took shape in that room filled with dozens of other handbag designer wannabes.

Earlier last year, two women who I work with had already confided in me that they thought I needed to focus on handbags.  They thought my designs were fun and would find a supportive audience.  I am oftentimes open about people's suggestions and this moment was no different.  But I did take a wait and see attitude.  Could they have seen something that I was not able to see myself?  There was a confluence of other episodes that led me to believe that, perhaps, the universe was moving me forward to the next chapter in my life.  Many times I've said that having the ability to design is a gift and I need to honor my gift at all times because it is not one that is given freely.  So I have fully embraced handbag design.

On Monday, February 25, www.skwilbur.com will be updated with the handbag designs that my business partners and I are selling.  Starting off small, we are offering two clutch styles in four different colorways.  We are also giving women an opportunity to special order other colors of their choosing.  We're hoping to finally secure retail orders, as well.  Making progress is a process and I am always in a learning curve.  Yet, I am feeling  positive about what the future holds.  Sometimes you've got to take a step back to move forward.  And when those orders start to come in, I will feel validated and fully recovered.

Peace & Fashion!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beyonce & Beyond

I am not much of a football fan.  Yet there I was face-to-face with my mother's Samsung flat screen watching the Giants win last year's SuperBowl.  GO NEW YORK!  I will admit, too, that I was initially more excited to see Madonna during the halftime spectacle.  And Ms. Strike A Pose did not disappoint.  This year, without New York in the finals, I was more than a little crestfallen.  But then I learned that Beyonce (first name will do, thank you very much.) would be performing.  I can't say anything that has not been said about the sistah.  Her accomplishments really speak for themselves.  She is Bad To The BONE!
Beyonce in GQ magazine

And that is why I was so baffled by the Inauguration lipsync flap.  What Gives???  When I first noticed the headlines, all I could think was, "What The H*ll?!"  Anybody who can hear, knows Beyonce can SANG.  I thought the clamor would die down and I was completely satisfied when she wouldn't even address the tidal wave of negativity.  I even admitted to my sister, "I'm so happy she's ignoring all the BS."  But then, at the SuperBowl press conference, Beyonce asked the assembled reporters to stand as she flawlessly sang an acapella rendition of the national anthem.  I was really annoyed.  How dare anybody question Bey's talents?  After the last note was uttered, the songstress asked, "Any questions?"  With grace and humility, the goddess quieted the noise of the naysayers.  I think the lesson is that no matter how large you get, sometimes you must do things that require you to swallow your pride.

Now I am so pumped to see a lot of BOOTYLICIOUS, GET ME BODIED sounds and Sasha Fierce dance moves.  Let 'er rip, Beyonce!  I'll be cheering you on.

Peace & Fashion!