I own, operate, live, and breathe Jenny N. full-time, where I design and construct superior quality leather bags in my home studio in the suburbs north of Dallas, Texas.
I’ve always loved making things. When I was six years old, my grandmother visited us from Vietnam. She couldn't understand English and I couldn’t speak Vietnamese, so her visit turned out to be an extended game of charades. I would say we were pretty successful because she ended up teaching me how to knit. I made a small magenta rectangle that I folded in half and made into a pouch. Wanting to strengthen the design, I asked my mom for help. My mom took out a vintage Singer sewing machine (that she used exclusively for hemming my dad's work pants), some scrap pant fabric, and taught me to sew a simple bag lining and a strap to turn my pouch into a bag.
It didn’t surprise anyone that I started Jenny N. while studying Biomedical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin as an outlet for the pent up creativity. I used all of the money I had saved up to buy a Singer sewing machine, some fabric, and a camera. Soon, I was building handbag prototypes and posting them online to sell. What started as an exciting distraction from my studies soon became a business.
I figured owning a business would give me the opportunity to do what inspired me while creating the flexibility to work my own hours and move anywhere around the world. What I didn’t realize at the time was that owning a business is a 24/7 commitment and that industrial sewing machines and leather hides are really heavy to move, but that’s beside the point.
Jenny N. was then, and still is my labor of love.
14 years in, I take great pride in operating my entire business out of a small office in our home, where I make every bag meticulously from start to finish and give it a goodbye hug before shipping it to its loving owner. Jenny N. might not fit the prevailing narrative of our mass-produced world, but that’s several thousand bag-hugs ya’ll!
I am an artist by nature and an engineer by discipline, so my business is the fusion of my personal artistic aesthetic and the engineering principles I adopted throughout my education as a Biomedical Engineer at The University of Texas at Austin. Simplicity and versatility are defining characteristics of my design aesthetic.
My bags are created with:
- Premium full-grain cowskin leather from North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas,
- YKK zippers, manufactured in Georgia,
- Water-resistant canvas lining, manufactured in New Jersey, and
- Bonded nylon and polyester thread, manufactured in Washington.
My bags are sewn on my cast iron industrial sewing machine from Ohio using bonded nylon thread (used for automotive upholstery) and reinforced with metal rivets. Most of my bags can be worn in multiple ways, including crossbody or backpack-style, or can be customized as such.
I design my bags by sketching out the final silhouette in a notebook, then reverse-engineering the design to create a template. I cut the template from a whole leather hide that culminates into a design when sewn, lined, and riveted.
Once a bag is ready, I take a brief moment to feel like a proud mom, giving it a final hug goodbye, and then package it with a hand-written note to be shipped away to a loving new home where it will hopefully be used daily for a lifetime!
My husband, Shay Nemlekar is my pro-bono model (if I nag him enough) and sounding board for all major business decisions (he's got a lot of business know-how!).
I operate out of the study in our home while our lazy pug Hubert snores next to me all day and our curious 4-year old daughter occasionally comes in to point to at every single item in my studio and ask "What's this?!"