Rise of Fashion South: Bella Bag

BELLA BAG
A luxury bag reseller is taking over.  

Story by JAIME LIN WEINSTEIN | Photography by ALLIE BECKWITH

“THESE ARE PRE-OWNED?” a customer exclaims upon walking into Bella Bag’s new flagship store in the Buckhead Atlanta luxury retail complex. The walls are lined with rows of designer handbags — Céline, Chanel, Dior, Hermès — in such pristine condition it is hard to believe they’ve ever had a life outside the showroom. Even the rare, vintage ones look like new. (And the Louis Vuitton Shopping Bag designed by Christian Louboutin on display practically is — the limited edition purse was only available as of October 2014.)

What began as a way for a broke college girl to sell a designer bag and reap more return than consignment would provide back in 2005 has grown into one of the nation’s premier luxury resale platforms — and it’s more than just a store. “Most know the Bella Bag that you see online or in store here in Atlanta. What you don’t see is that we are the largest provider of luxury vintage out there,” Cassandra Connors, the founder, CEO and president, explains. “Chances are, if you’ve bought a luxury pre-owned handbag somewhere on the web, it probably originated from someone on the buying team at Bella.” Think vintage handbag sales on Rue La La or Gilt. What else sets Bella Bag apart from the growing number of resale sites in today’s market? In addition to the largest privately held collection of authentic luxury handbags and accessories in the U.S., a 13-point inspection process ensures the authenticity of each bag. (Connors has been interviewed everywhere from Lucky Magazine to USA Today on how to spot a fake.) An upcoming VIP Program will soon allow customers to request literally any bag they want, and Bella will source it in less than 30 days, too. “I’m razor focused on listening to our customers and really trying to give them what they want. That’s my number one priority,” Connors says.

It’s all an incredible feat for a young woman who is only in her 30s. “This business has been an evolutionary process, growing up with me throughout my own maturation,” Connors says. And while fashion is certainly in her genes (“My mother was an avid shoe col- lector and my grandmother a huge handbag and jewelry lover.”), she has become one savvy businesswoman: Bella Bag has doubled revenues every year since 2010.

For 2015, Connors has plans to grow the company’s national compass through pop-up shops and trunk shows around the country. But she is happy to be headquartered in Atlanta for a wealth of reasons, from weather and family to cost of living and ease of entrance. “We are growing rapidly and we’re heading into the other cities quickly now,” she says. “But it’s fun to call Atlanta home base and have the city be proud to have raised us.” bellabag.com