With parents who have owned and operated a boutique children’s clothing line for 35 years, a career in textiles was a natural fit for handbag and accessories designer Holly Aiken. From a young age Aiken would occasionally sew her own clothing.
Aiken, a graduate of the North Carolina State University School of Design, launched the first Stitch in 2004, which serves as a space for the production and retail of her line of handmade vinyl handbags in downtown Raleigh. Now, Aiken is setting up shop in Wilmington with another Stitch just west of the Heide Trask Drawbridge inside the former Crocker’s Marine warehouse.
“I’ve wanted to open a store here for a while, but just didn’t know where. I have always been keeping my eye out,” Aiken said. “I have always had a nontraditional space for my shop. I like the warehouse feel because we kind of have an industrial feel to the design and I like the challenge of taking the warehouse and making it into a retail environment.”
Aiken said her influences could come from anything, like a font or a retro racing jacket. Colors, shapes and the relationship between both elements are the biggest influences, she said.
Rolls of multi-colored vinyl fabrics hang next to finished handbags in Aiken’s new space. The retail side of the space is populated by the variety of bags and accessories in Aiken’s product line. The choice to use vinyl is all about practicality, Aiken said.
“We are working on other lines that might incorporate a few other materials, but right now it is all vinyl,” she said. “I like its durability, all the colors it comes in and the cuts you can do with it.”
In addition to being highly durable and long lasting, Aiken said the material is also antimicrobial and antibacterial.
While Aiken said she would have a variety of bags with different designs and color combinations on the retail floor, she added customers could also design their own bags for no extra charge.
Everything is measured and cut in house and then the pieces are sent off to local seamstresses to be constructed. The seamstresses Aiken uses are in Raleigh and Asheville, but she said she would be looking for seamstresses in Wilmington for efficiency.
Aiken’s product line runs from around $50 for accessories to $150 for handbags and $180 for diaper bags. Aiken said she would also soon introduce more designs geared for coastal life, like beach bags.
Aiken said Stitch Wilmington will open before the end of June with a grand opening to launch the new space. To view Aiken’s designs, visit www.hollyaiken.com