FemaleMade: Q+A with Bridget Brown, owner of Filbert
We recently interviewed Bridget Brown, the founder of Filbert, a luxury vegan handbag brand whose mission is to create beautiful, cruelty-free, and mindfully made bags.
When did you know you wanted to start your own business?
Filbert is actually my second business. I founded Bella Bridesmaids in 2001 after seeing a gal in the market for chic, modern bridesmaid dresses. We sold the company in 2012 after growing the company to 43 stores. In 2015, after taking some time off and spending a year in England and Europe traveling, my husband and I came up with the idea for Filbert. I honestly didn’t know that a vegan lifestyle included what you wear and what you buy, so I only became aware of buying cruelty-free when I moved to a vegan diet in January of 2013. I’m a conscious consumer, so the idea of buying a cheap, PVC handbag wasn’t appealing. And I try to buy US made where possible, so these two things made my quest virtually impossible! So, we decided to create a collection of luxe, vegan handbags ourselves.
What inspired you to launch Filbert?
In 2012 shortly after we sold Bella Bridesmaid, we embarked on a U.S. road trip. During a stay in Mississippi to visit family, I watched the documentary Vegucated and moved to a vegan lifestyle the next day. I had no idea how horribly animals were treated in factory farming and being a huge animal lover, I couldn’t in good conscience continue to participate consuming meat and dairy. From there I started thinking more about what my clothes and shoes were made of and this coincided with us brainstorming on what we wanted to do next. My husband Nick said “you’re always struggling to find handbags that aren’t leather.” That’s when we decided to explore making our own!
What is your favorite part of being a business owner?
The freedom, flexibility, and the support system of other small businesses.
What do you find most challenging/rewarding?
Finding your customer is tough right now in this landscape.
How do you maintain your work/life balance?
When you’re a small business owner, some weeks there’s no balance and some weeks you’re better at carving out time. There really isn’t an “off” switch when you run your own business, but you learn how and when to pump the brakes.
Any self-care tips you want to share?
I’m a big fan of yoga. And there’s something about booking a class that you have to pay to attend rather than working out at home. It’s a bigger motivator for me for sure!
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Just start. I know that’s easier said than done, but whatever you are passionate about, start by doing one thing every week towards that goal. Find someone who is doing something that you admire in the field you’re interested in and ask a lot of questions!
Anything in the pipeline you want to share?
We are in the middle of a big revamp for Filbert, so stay tuned! And I have also started consulting for other entrepreneurs who are in need of some guidance, whether they are just starting the process of creating their own product/business or are a few years in and just need someone to lend advice for the next stage of their business.