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Artisan Spotlight & Giveaway: Just Be...

I went to my trunk show at Vintage Bliss Saturday afternoon and couldn't take my eyes off of the Just Be handbags. Sheryn, the shop's owner, told me about how this boutique line had generated quite a following.

I got to meet several Just Be... fans that day. While I was showing off my jewelry line, I met some sweet ladies carrying stunning and unique bags. I recognized the work and they were clearly made by Just Be... The women started talking about what drew them to the bags. I can see why everyone adores these bags so much.

When you look at them and see the workmanship and feel the complexity of the textures, you'll be drawn in as well.

Today I am sharing an interview with Suzi Bates, Chief Designer of Just Be... bags. Find out how she got her start and learn you YOU just might be able to win a Just Be... bag this month here at Chic & Green.

 Just look at the detail on this bag from Just Be...!

 The above bag is the one I fell in love with and brought home with me!

C & G: Tell me about Just Be... How long have you been in business and how long did you get your start?

Just Be: Making things has always been apart of my life. I think growing up in a Hawaii had something to do with it. We were always outside and we just grew up making Lei's out of flowers, weaving grass or stringing seeds together for necklaces. We would make huge cities and forts for the fairies to live in too. My mom hated to sew and with eight kids in the family that was a huge necessity. My job at a young age was to sew on all the loose buttons. Having older sisters also gave me the opportunity to be quite good at altering their old clothes into something new for me. When I was a teenager we would set up a booth at Street fairs and sell dresses that we dyed and altered, now this was in 1978 so way before upcycling was popular. I wish I had kept some of those pieces now, we had put a lot of work into them.

C & G: I met three women at Vintage Bliss this weekend with Just Be... handbags. Other ladies were gathering around to find out more about them because they're so unique. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Just Be: Inspiration is a beautiful thing, everyone has felt it. There's something that just makes you stop and be in the moment, music, a taste , a smell, a flash of color, or the best, a combination of all your senses and it just makes you smile. Then you're creative thoughts start to run wild. When I was in Bali (way before Eat Pray Love) my friend there summed it up saying "everyone here is an artist, we are made to create". If we don't create we destroy. Did you know Hitler was accepted to an architectural school when he was young? He didn't go.
C & G: What drew me most to my own bag is the mix of soft, plush textures along with feminine flowers and edgy animal prints. Your bags truly are one of a kind and I am in awe of your creativity! How would you describe the style of Just Be... bags?

Just Be: Our motto is " There is beauty in individuality Just be...." Basically you are the one that fills in the dots. So just be who you are! That is beautiful!!!

I use a lot of vintage pieces , I just love that they have had a life before and can keep on being used. but I love to embellish or dye the fabrics too. Before I could afford really nice fabrics I would get the fabric samples from upholstery designers and even though they were great quality they weren't exactly the colors I would want. So I would sew a flower or bird on it . Dye it , and embellish it with trims.
And that has carried over, so even though I get beautiful fabrics, I still have to add something to it.

C & G: Buying handmade is something of great importance to me--as well as my readers. What are some of your favorite handmade businesses?

Just Be:
I am so appreciative to the Etsy community! I was buying a ton on here before I opened a shop. Anita Roddick who founded Body Shop was very inspirational on how I wanted to run my company. Some favorite Etsy shops are xiaolizi , such unique designs and Rebelle is a shop with a soul. These are just two off the top of my head, i've bought from so many that I love.

C & G: Where do you see Just Be... in a year from now? Would you like to branch out more?

Just Be: I am passionate about what I do, I have had a lot of opportunity to go large scale. But right now I love that everything goes through my hands, and I can add this or that until I feel it is done.

A big thanks to Suzi from Just Be... for taking the time to chat with me. Do you love these bags as much as I do? I can tell you I adore mine and know you'd love these too. You have a chance to win a handmade bag from  Just Be... for our February Giveaway

Here is the bag you can win:

How to Win!

2 Ways To Enter:

1. Follow this blog.

Earn Extra Entries:

1. Go to the Just Be page on Etsy and look around. Leave me a comment with the name of one the one creation you love the most. Please leave an email address with your comment.

2. Tweet about this giveaway using #chicandgreen.

The Nitty Gritty:

Open to US residents over age 18. Immediate family members of C & G or Just Be... may not enter. Winners are chosen via

The drawing will be held at 9pm EST on Friday, February 25. Winner will be notified and announced Saturday, February 26.