I’m Jenny Nemlekar, and 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, my grandmother visited us from Vietnam. She didn’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, some scrap 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 UT 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. Jenny N. was then, and still is my labor of love.
12 years in, I take great pride in operating my entire business out of a small office in our home, where I still 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!
Bonus: After meticulously constructing thousands of bags over 12 years, you'll find the quality of my bags to be superior to the luxury brands on the market without the 6x markup because I sell exclusively online direct to my customers!
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 (not the cardboard-stiffened, glued-on top-grain stuff),
- YKK zippers, manufactured in Georgia,
- Water-resistant canvas lining, manufactured in New Jersey, and
- Bonded nylon thread, manufactured in Washington.
My bags are sewn on my cast iron industrial sewing machine using bonded nylon thread (used for automotive upholstery) and reinforced with metal rivets. No glues, adhesives, or rubber! 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 a whole leather hide into a stack of geometric shapes that culminate into a design when sewn, lined, and riveted.
Once a bag is ready, I take a brief moment to feel like a proud mom before 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!
I started making tote bags (something I learned from my mom when I was six years old) in my college dorm room while procrastinating on studying for an Engineering Physiology exam. After earning my degree in Biomedical Engineering, I stowed away my diploma and turned Jenny N. from a part-time hobby into a full-time 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.
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 a spare bedroom in our home while our lazy pug Hubert snores next to me all day, and our 3-year old daughter is constantly peeking in saying "Mommy, can you play with me?" every 20 minutes or so. It's distracting and crazy, but I couldn't imagine it any other way. Just kidding, I honestly can't wait for my daughter to go back to school when this pandemic situation is all over.