HOLLY AiKEN: Local Shopping, National Cause

HOLLY_AiKEN_STITCHMade in the USA. Indestructible. Antimicrobial.

Ew, stop right there! Antimicrobial? As in, inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms?!

You’ve got my attention, HOLLY AiKEN Bags!

And you’re speaking my language.

On a recent trip to downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, my sister and I stepped into STITCH, the brick-and-mortar home of HOLLY AiKEN Bags, on 20 E Hargett Street.

(I was on a mission, which I will explain later.)

I first learned of HOLLY AiKEN in 2011 through one of my sister’s friends, who tweeted about her obsession with the ‘designed and built in North Carolina’ bags on Twitter. (Score one for social media free advertising!) Since then, I’ve purchased a FOGG Jr (Bird) and gifted a COUPE (Bird). (TIP: Get on the mailing list to take advantage of the occasional 20% or 30%-off sale.)

Despite those two online purchases, this was my first time at STITCH.  Here’s what I saw:

The window display was lovely:

HOLLY_AiKEN_Storefront

The store was ‘stylish and hip’ (that sounds so affected, but it’s sincerely true) and packed with skillfully-crafted, locally-made vinyl goods that ranged from messenger bags and totes to backpacks and billfold wallets.
HOLLY_AiKEN_Interior

I received permission to photograph the ‘building’ process!

HOLLY_AiKEN_Designer

Cool, right?  … Now, for why I was there–the mission that I previously mentioned.

I learned via email of a Special Edition bag to benefit the American Red Cross. (See! Perks of being on the mailing list.)

As someone who spent many, many Saturday mornings riding my bicycle by the Clara Barton Memorial at the Antietam National Battlefield and thinking far too deeply about it than any child ought to … well … let’s just say that I was really excited about this. (Clara Barton established the American Red Cross, in case you didn’t know.)

To my delight, STITCH not only had the TURBO (American Red Cross), which is available for purchase online, but they also had a smaller version, which I think looks a little less like a medicine bag, (let’s face it, I’m no doctor), and costs slightly less at (brace yourself, quality comes at a price) $125.  Both designs were striking in real life, but I chose the smaller one, (Exhibit A follows).

HOLLY_AiKEN_RedCross_Bag

HOLLY AiKEN Red Cross Bag (front and back): $50 of the purchase goes to the American Red Cross.

So let’s see… a uniquely-styled bag that’s made in the USA, is ruggedly constructed, isn’t prone to the growth of germ-y stuff, and benefits a national cause. For the money, I’d say that’s not too bad!

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