Step inside Bella Bag’s Virginia-Highland offices and you’ll feel like Carrie Bradshaw discovering Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes in the Vogue accessories closet. This online retailer, which buys and sells authentic, pre-owned, limited edition, and vintage handbags and accessories, stocks more than 500 designs by big names such as Chanel, Chloé, Prada, and Louis Vuitton—Bella Bag’s biggest seller.
While studying theater at New York University, Bella Bag founder and New York native Cassandra Connors started selling her and her friends’ handbags, as well as thrift store finds, online to earn extra cash. “I had a mother and grandmother that are very fashion-forward, so from an early age it was ingrained in me to keep my shoes and bags in good condition: Keep the box, tags, and bags,” she says.
After a couple of years, Connors’s side project turned into a full-time business. She eventually put her theater career on hold and moved south. “Up until I was twenty-six, I was doing everything all by myself; all the photography, orders, etc. Since moving to Atlanta in 2010, I’ve found myself a fantastic team, but I still authenticate every bag that comes through the door,” says Connors. She developed a thirteen-point checklist to distinguish real bags from fakes. It includes checking measurements, designs, and details like the metallic qualities of hardware or fabric pattern continuity. Bella Bag typically sells handbags for between 30 percent and 70 percent off original retail, depending on quality and rarity, with the average price being $900. Ask Connors to pick her favorite bag in the collection and she swoons over a vintage Hermès Kelly black crocodile bag that retails on her site for $25,000. shopbellabag.com
This article originally appeared in our May 2012 issue.