We recently had the lovely pleasure of meeting and learning about San Francisco’s very own Mei Li Brands, an up and coming local handbag design team composed of Akiko Bates and James Ng. This dynamic duo is bringing a versatile edge to the world of function meets fashion!
Now settled into their Cow Hollow office on Union St., this kickstarter brand has hit the ground running and we were lucky enough to get the inside scoop on just what makes this brand a standout from the rest!
Where did your creativity come from when creating your collection?
Mei Li started out with the goal of empowering women through the creation of beautiful and easy to use handbags. We wanted to make products that would help our customers achieve their goals and tackle their busy days, while still feeling fashionable. As we created these bags, we tried to understand what every person who used a handbag needed throughout the day and that is how we ended up creating our first line—the SOMA Collection. The SOMA Collection was inspired by the lifestyle of its namesake. We loved how SOMA was an area that encompassed everything from work to play and wanted to use that name for our collection.
How did your own personal style play into designing your collection?
Honestly, our personal style wasn’t really a factor in creating these bags. Obviously, we wanted to create something the team found aesthetically pleasing, but our main focus was always on the customer. In our design process we try to understand and empathize with the person who is using our bag, and create a product that is not just outwardly beautiful but fits in seamlessly with their life. We are inspired by the lives that our customers lead, and we want to make a product that makes their lives better and easier.
Describe the meaning of your brand in three words.
I can’t do this in three words, so I am going for four, sorry!
To us, Mei Li, in a brief summary means: “Women’s empowerment through fashion”
Having said that, if we were to use just one word, it would be “beautiful”. That’s the meaning behind Mei Li.
How important is social media to your company?
Social media is staple for any modern company. For us, we feel it is a great way to engage with potential customers, as well as stay on trend. Our goals on social media are all about forming the connection between people and our brand. We want to use it as a platform to receive feedback and interact with customers so we can provide the best product possible. A great example of this is how we added RFID blocking to our bags. We had heard time and time again on both Facebook and Instagram from customers asking if our bags were RFID safe, and after hearing how much people wanted it, we were actually able to incorporate it into our SOMA Collection.
FOLLOW THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES HERE!
What’s one thing we should take away from showcasing your handbag accessories?
If there is one thing to take away from our collection, it is how we focused on creating a product that is both beautiful and easy to use. Often, we feel that women have to choose between a bag that fits into their life, or a bag that looks great, and with the SOMA Collection, we seek to give women the best of both worlds At Mei Li, we are motivated to make products that are as incredible as our customers. Women do so much in lives, and we wanted to create a product that help them do all the amazing things they do every day.
All photgraphy courtesy of WWITC-SF
What’s next for Mei Li Brands?
We are launching a mini backpack! As a company we are always trying to make great products that enable our customers to live beautiful, productive lives, and our next bag is a multi-use mini backpack that goes from being a tiny backpack, to a handbag, to a crossbody, and finally a belt bag. That is slated to come out around June/July and we are so excited to share it with the world.