Erika Lynn Designer of Handbags and Shoes is in Need of Your Votes

Erika Lynn Accessory shoe and handbag designer is in need of your votes for the 2016 InStyle Magazine's 10th annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards. If she wins her work will be featured in the September issue.

You can vote for her HERE

Who are you and what do you do? 

I am Erika Lynn McKelvey and I design and make handbags and sandals.  

How did you hear about this Handbag Awards contest sponsored by Instyle? Why did you enter? 

At SCAD, we were encouraged to enter a piece from our senior collection.  I entered in 2012 but I did not become a finalist.  I have now perfected my styles and decided to try again and this time I am a finalist out of over 1500 applicants from around the world!  

Photography by Chris and Cami Smith

It is very hard to get your brand noticed in the fashion industry but Im willing to push hard to do so!

What was the inspiration of your contest design? What is it called? 

This design is my classic clutch with a fish leather inlay.  The color was inspired by the glistening waters off the coast of Capri in Southern Italy.  

What are you inspired by when you design? 

I am inspired by my Southern roots.  I was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina and I am inspired by the Charleston skyline and the islands that form the Lowcountry.  I am also inspired by the unique designs and textures of different exotic leathers.  

What influences do you look for as a designer? 

I look for bold designs and bright colors.  I love fun and unique textures and shapes.

Photography by Chris and Cami Smith

What is involved in running your own business?

 I have my own business, Erika Lynn, where I hand-make handbags and sandals.  It is very hard to get your brand noticed in the fashion industry but Im willing to push hard to do so!  Right now I wholesale to 9 stores in the southeast.  I hope this will continue to grow and more stores around the United States will carry my handbags.  I also recently became a finalist in the Belk Southern Designer Showcase and presented my brand to Belk.  I did not win but I was able to spread my brand name to some people that are high in the fashion industry and left with a great experience!  

Where do you see the trend in handbag design going? 

I hope its changing…I feel like right now there are so many designs out there that are the same.  My designs are edgy and bright but also classy and sophisticated.  You definitely do not see my style out there right now but when people do see my style they love them!  

What are your favorite types of materials to use when designing handbags or anything else? 

Photography by Chris and Cami Smith

I use different exotic leathers like fish leather, python skin, ostrich leg, alligator, and lizard.  I especially love the fish leather.  It is so unique but the texture and the colors are very beautiful!  

Who would you say right now is a designer you really look up to or are inspired by?

I am inspired by Tory Burch.  She just launched back in 2004 and has quickly grown!  You can now see her shoes, bags, and clothes in almost every store and on people.  Her brand is easily recognizable and I think its really cool to see how quickly her brand grew and is loved.  

What made you want to work in this field? 

I started making handbags out of fabric when I was 11 and selling to family, friends, and at local craft shows.  I visited Savannah College of Art and Design my senior year in high school.  I was touring the fashion building to become a fashion designer.  When I walked past the accessories room and saw girls making high end handbags and stilettos I knew the Accessories program was for me since I have loved shoes and handbags from an early age!  

Photography by Chris and Cami Smith

Fun Questions

If you could meet anyone living or dead who would it be?  Tim Tebow

If you could travel to any planet where would you go? Mars

If you could use any material in the world to make a handbag what would it be? I have seen jewelry made out of cow horn while in Haiti and I think that would be a really cool material to make a handbag…now to just find a cow horn big enough!  

What's your favorite ice cream flavor? Mint Chocolate Chip

If you could have a super power what would it be? Omnilinguism, I love to travel so to be able to understand every language would be awesome so there is never a language barrier!