High demand for high-end 'pre-loved' handbags

ATLANTA -- It's fair to call Cassandra Connors the Imelda Marcos of luxury purses. Her company, Bella Bag, has thousands of authentic Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada handbags.

The newlywed and new mom bills her company as the go-to spot in the U.S. to shop, sell and trade, not preowned, but pre-loved authentic luxury handbags.

"Each bag has in its skin, in its leather, a history and a love story woven in," Connors explains with enthusiasm. The entrepreneur says the shoppers also have their own distinct stories.

"Some women come in and say, I have worked and worked and I want that. I deserve that," she said. "I meet other women who say my grandmother carried a Chanel. Then I meet men who say, I just want to see my wife's eyes light up."

An empty wallet, 10 years ago, inspired her business.

"I was a college student who was broke and had a love of all things fashionable and designer and really couldn't figure out how to make money," Connors said.

She took her two luxury handbags and sold them on New York University's intranet, where she was studying, not business, but musical theatre.

"It sold so quickly that I had a girlfriend come to me and she said 'can you do that for me?' So I did it. And I had another girlfriend say can you do that for me?"

First online and out her home, she opened her first office in Virginia Highland in 2008. In 2011, she opened the flagship store in Buckhead.

Bella Bag's inventory is extensive and safely protected in a Buckhead office tower. Price tags run the gamut; from a couple of hundred dollars, to the most expensive. Connors calls the Hermes Birkin 'the Bugatti of handbags.'

Through the mail and in person, Bella Bag is always accepting authentic luxury handbags. The company uses its own 13-point inspection to verify the pieces are authentic and top quality. In fact, they're currently working on a patent for this verification process.

While Cassandra obviously knows what she's doing now, she says, initially she had no business being in business.

"I have a business completely by accident. Completely by chance. Along the way I have made so many mistakes," she said.

Still, Connors says the business is healthy. in 2014, they're planning to open a store in New York City and are projecting $10 million in sales.

"If I can do it, anyone can," she says.


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