By Starrla Cray
COKATO, MN At the age of six, Cokato native Brianna (Lundeen) Krebsbach told her father, “I want to design handbags.”
That ambition never faded, and today, Brianna’s gorgeous leather purses grace the arms of celebrities and stylish women all over the US.
Sweet, sophisticated, and smart, Brianna’s luxurious handbags are a clear reflection of her personality.
“I’m actually involved in every aspect, from deciding the width of the threads to the types of zippers,” said Brianna, explaining that although she lives in southern Wright County, trips to New York City are common.
Brianna’s fashion and business sense were cultivated at a young age.
“My father’s an entrepreneur, and I would travel with him each summer to different business meetings,” she said. “I had all of these world experiences that aren’t typical for a 6-year-old.”
During the trips, Brianna was allowed to carry a handbag, an accessory she treasured.
“I was very feminine as a 6-year-old,” she laughed. “I wanted to wear makeup; I wanted to shave my legs. I was ready to be grown up.”
Brianna’s parents, Joel Lundeen of South Carolina and Mary Judd of Cokato, supported her natural drive and creativity, allowing her to receive training in leather, hardware, and textiles.
“I was the baby,” she said. “It was fun.”
After she graduated from Dassel-Cokato High School in 2004, Brianna furthered her skills at North Dakota State University, majoring in apparel and textiles.
In 2007, before she finished her degree, Brianna released her first handbag line, an upscale collection called Krebsbach.
“It’s kind of my ode to my husband,” said Brianna, who is married to a professional hockey referee.
Brianna’s newest line, which she is releasing in Wilson Leather stores the second week in November, also honors a family member.
The practical, yet lush, handbags are called Vivian Kay, after Brianna’s 16-month-old niece.
“She’s the little love of my life,” Brianna said.
In the past few seasons, Brianna’s creations have grabbed the attention of Elle, InStyle, O, the Oprah Magazine, Lucky, CondeNast Traveler, and Zink Magazine, as well as other national and international publications.
“We have just exploded in the last year,” Brianna said, adding that she recently paired with a billion-dollar company in New York.
Stepping into the fashion industry didn’t just happen overnight, however. Brianna spent countless hours perfecting her craft and finding investors who shared her passion and vision.
“I was fortunate enough to have several people who believed in me,” she said. “After that, it was a lot of perseverance and chance.”
Brianna releases new collections every fall and spring.
“Fall handbags are typically heavier, with darker coloring, and more substantial nametags and hardware,” she said. Spring handbags, in contrast, come in fun colors and patterns, with floral influences and minimal tags.
For Brianna, one of the perks of her company is being able to carry around her own designs.
“I get the bag before anyone else,” she said. “I do a lot of market research.”
When she’s trying out a new handbag, Brianna looks for people’s reactions to it, which helps determine how well it will be received and noticed in stores.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunities that have come my way,” Brianna said. “We have been doing exceptional in the last few months.”
To learn more about Brianna’s handbags, go to www.bkrebsbach.com.