I attended TNNA as a designer for the the first time this June! It was such a wonderful experience getting to meet different yarn companies in person, learn about new yarns, hang out with other designers, and get away for the weekend for some alone time with NO KIDS!! One of the booths I was immediately drawn to was Atenti Bags. I have a real soft spot for project bags! I think one should have a project bag for every different sized project, mood, and dare I say outfit? I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous fabrics used in the Atenti bags they had such beautiful colors and embossed, thick, high quality fabrics. They are bags with big personality! I love that they match my own style, they have a real bohemian feel and many of them are large enough to accommodate larger projects like sweaters! I ordered a large one for sweater knitting and have about 5 more that I am dyeing to get! I had such a great time chatting with the owners Andrea and Nina (mother and daughter) that I asked them if they would be interested in sharing some of their story with you!
Who is Atenti, where are you based out of and how did the company get it's start?
Atenti was created by two women who met in Los Angeles, but who both grew up in the heart of the vibrant, fashionable, city of Buenos Aires. They shared the same cultural background and passion for materials, textures, trims and colors, which continue to evoke and inspire Atenti. Andrea Sbardellati and Adriana Vilar were both familiar with sewing and had backgrounds in design. In the early 1990's these two talented and creative women decided to start a small business together. The partners never intended the business to be more then a small venture that provided a small income, satisfied creative needs, and provided a break from the routine of motherhood. Nina, Andrea’s daughter, has replaced Adriana and works side by side with her mother every day. Atenti is still based in the Los Angeles area.
ATENTI– from the Italian attenti (attention), is a colloquialism used in the heavily Italian influenced Buenos Aires. Atenti can mean anything from “watch out” to “look at me” and in the case of Atenti Bags, both.
Where are your bags made?
Our bags are handmade in our shop in very small production runs. Our lead person, Estela, manually cuts the fabric in house. We then cut the straps, piping, zippers, and collect these and other parts to be sewn. We usually average three people sewing in house. We keep a small inventory but most of our bags are made to order. We then embellish each one with decorations most of which we hand make. We love having the entire process in house. It allows for hands on supervision and quality control and we are constantly improving the bags as we go. Andrea and Nina spend their days between office work, shipping, designing, and creating packages to be sewn. The handmade nature of the process demands active participation at all levels of production.
A distinctive feature of the bags came about when we were faced with the high cost of trims and hardware as a USA manufacturer. We solved this by developing our own handmade trims and embellishments and found ourselves creating unique pieces.
How would you define the style of your bags?
Our bags are fashionable but we do not consider ourselves to be a part of high/fast fashion. While we research colors and current trends we do not strictly follow them and lean towards classic timeless designs and fabrics. It's more about making a beautiful piece than keeping in-line with fashion.
Our favorite part of the creative process is picking out fabrics and creating stunning, interesting, and funky combinations. As we collect and group elements we see beautiful combinations but we relentlessly go on until a stunning one arises. The fabric combinations come first and then inspire the shapes and embellishments.
What is your favorite bag right now or a new one you are excited about?
Each season we try to create a new shape or two. And each year we fall in love with a new style.
It’s the Prairie and Pioneer style bags right now. They are large old fashion tapestry style bags with a covered metal frame closure, evoking carpet bags. We also adore the Atenti fur bags. They are fun, funky that have become so popular. We are currently designing Fall/Winter and cannot resist the classy furs and the funky ones as well, not to mention the heavy luxurious tapestries. And then Summer will come and our eyes get full of color and blooms.
What advice do you have for other creative women wanting to start a business?
Do it because it's fun and rewarding! Remember to stick to your guns and not blindly follow trends. It can be scary releasing a piece of work because you don't know if it will sell but remember to trust your work and vision. Deliver the best quality you can. Don't try to cut corners because it will show. Likewise, be upstanding in your business practices. Be fair to your employees. Show fidelity to your vendors and customers. Be consistent. Try to be flexible. We are often asked to do custom orders and have found that being flexible and allowing them helps us find new styles or gives us ideas. Be in touch with your customers, listen to their input, there is so much to learn from them.
Where can people find you?
Of course everyone should follow us on Instagram, @atentibags, and Facebook, www.facebook.com/AtentiBags ! We try to post often and use it as a platform to showcase new items on our line along with one of a kinds and limited edition bags. We also do giveaways throughout the year! If you are a store you can create an account with us on our website atentiwholesale.com. Atenti is carried in about 1,000 boutiques and Knitting stores across the United States and Canada. Retailers should also contact us for Trade Shows! We love attending shows and hearing first hand feedback.
To find a store near you we can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 818 248 8459.
Atenti Bags is generously offering to give away their Finch Blue Tall Caddy Project Bag (above) to one lucky winner!
This bag retails for $76 and features 8 pockets. It has four inside and four outside with a good sized oval center well.
Chris Campbell is the winner! thank you to everyone who played along!