by Kara Hugglestone
What’s nautical, practical, and ‘green’ while being oh so chic?
An Ella Vickers Sailcloth handbag of course.
I first discovered the Ella Vickers Sailcloth Collection while shopping the quaint shops of Annapolis. It was years ago now, but I still recall how excited I was to find the perfect sailing duffle. It was her signature “original sailcloth duffle,” white Dacron with contrasting orange fabric and a rakish blue number set at an angle.
It’s interesting to see how that initial purchase has morphed into three duffles, a messenger bag, a couple totes, a couple handbags, a wine tote and counting. Warning, EVSC can be a bit addicting…
I love that the bags are made from recycled sails, which otherwise would likely end up in a landfill. That fact was actually the inspiration for her collection.
Back in 1989, as first mate on Newport’s famed America’s Cup yacht Columbia, Ella was changing sails one day and realized the owners were making plans to toss the old ones. She requested to take them home instead and experimented a bit that night. Ella had been taught to sew by her great-grandmother and the skills paid off. She created three large totes and the next day they didn’t even make it to work. She sold all three off her arm while walking to Columbia.
Although Ella loved her life as a professional sailor, she did have ambitions beyond. Suddenly a new career was born. The rest as they say is history.
Today Ella presides over a successful international design and manufacture business. She recently collaborated with a French designer creating some particularly chic designs. I’m in love with their Monaco bag; I get compliments each time I carry it. It can go anywhere with its effortless elegance. Workday tote, to posh dinner, to weekend at the beach, it’s your bag.
Ella’s best sellers are actually her rope totes and wine bag. The rope totes are a perfect size for daily life… Boat tote, grocery bag, beach bag, the uses are endless. They can be customized with letters, numbers and insignias too. I’m a big fan of the wine bag as a gift. How wonderful to present a bottle of wine to a sailor wrapped this way.
“We started adding leather to our bags and I’m absolutely in love with how they turned out. They are going to be great bags year-round and I’m excited to see how our customers react to them,” Ella said.
I agree, the darker color options are perfect for fall and winter. Ella has fab resort options too. Her brightly colored designs are ideal and have names to match: Bimini, Calypso, Abaco. They are festive and fun and I hear steel drums just looking at them.
Ella now lives in Wrightsville Beach, NC with her family, husband and fellow sailor Tony and their two young children. Together they enjoy sailing their Soverel 48 and their Lightning dinghy, which they race locally. Marlo Thomas recently profiled Ella in her book, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life and Realizing Your Dreams – Anytime at Any Age.
I love Ella’s quote in the book, “Everyone always says that when you’re past forty, you’re pretty much through crewing on sailboats. But I’ve found a way to keep sails in my life – and I’ve got good wind behind me.”
I’m particularly thankful Ella decided to rescue those sails so many years ago. My life on and off the water are that much more beautiful for her creations. Remember to use code SAILCOUTURE for 10% off site-wide on EllaVickers.com!