Vegan designer | The Story of White Rhino | Cruelty-free bags

Here is a bit of how White Rhino Bags began. A shop for designer bags that are exclusively made from cruelty-free vegan leather fabrics.

Vegan Designer & Musician Claire Carreras

Vegan Designer & Musician Claire Carreras

So Who’s Behind White Rhino?

 Hi there! Thank you for visiting- my name is Claire Carreras. I’m a Canadian musician, vegan designer and the creator of White Rhino Bags. For as long as I can remember I have been creating. My mother was a very crafty woman. She could sew, cook, bake, garden, dance – you name it. And her mother (my grandmother) was the same way. They taught me that if there was something I wanted or needed I could make it with my own two hands. They encouraged me to believe in my creative power and to use the environment around me to inspire and provide.

The Big Shopping Fail

White Rhino Bags is the outcome of a shopping expedition gone wrong. My favorite leather backpack (cruelty-free) was starting to look worn out and it no longer fit my current style. I’d purchased new clothes for the season and it just wasn’t meshing right. Furthermore – it didn’t fit half of the junk I needed to haul around with me when I went out to shows, to band rehearsals, to school and so on. What was meant to be a quick and pleasant shopping mission turned into days of fruitless searching. As a designer, vegan and a person of ‘particular’ style preferences it became clear that finding something that represented my esthetic while also adhering to my moral values was going to be a lot harder than I had anticipated.

What A Nightmare…

This is the scene that would play over and over again like a never ending nightmare: I’d see a bag from across the store’s display tables. A bag that looked like something I could see myself carrying with me every day, a bag that would ‘say’ something about me, and could be my constant companion. My new best friend. I’d approach, filled with excitement thinking “is this it? Have I finally found The One??” But then I’d check the tag and my heart would sink when I read that it was made from animal hide. Disheartening to say the least. Furthermore - let’s be honest about something – I’m a musician; There’s no way I can afford a $300 bag from a specialty store.

So what are my options then? Settle for something inferior that I’d no doubt wear out in another month’s time? Settle for something that was vegan cruelty-free but albeit – boring as a burlap bag - and hope no one ever saw me out with it in daylight? I think not. I don’t have money to just be throwing around on material items that I don’t truly connect with.

The Big Aha Moment

So, after the joy of shopping had been thoroughly ruined for me I was left asking myself the following question: “Why isn’t there one place I can go where I can find affordable, unique bags and accessories that aren’t made from the skins of the animals I love and respect so much?”

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White Rhino Bags

And that is how the dream to open a store that did just that was born. White Rhino Bags vows to keep shopping exciting and easy. A one-stop shop for designer bags and accessories that are made exclusively from cruelty-free vegan leather fabrics. To create a place where an individual with a unique sense of style can find items that aren’t run-of the mill, providing a selection of options that will stand out in a crowd and go beyond the ordinary.

I had designed bags in the past – albeit mostly for myself and for friends, and my previous experiences in garment design, wholesale and manufacturing gave me the tool box I needed to dive into my new business idea head-first. The first lesson that I learnt from my days in wholesale is that color gets the clicks, but black gets the buy. Essentially what this means is that when you’re showing a design the most colorful one gets all the oohs & ahs and will likely entice the person into making a purchase but at the end of the day they walk out with the black one.

So as a new cruelty-free vegan company, I selected mostly neutral colors with a few pops of exquisite brights like the Yasmini Bag in Royal Blue and the Allie Hip Purse in bright hot red.

You never know for certain though how it’s going to go. I had predicted that the ‘wild-card’ piece from my first collection the ‘Booya Bag’ would be slow to move because it was patterned, but it was the first item to sell out.

The New Me!

The most exciting aspect to making my dream a reality has been how much more I notice bags and accessories now. I’ve always been one to notice an interesting hem finish or an unexpected fabric choice for an otherwise boring garment, but now I see how people express themselves through what they carry stuff in. I make note of things while out on the town like which color bag that girl chose to pair her outfit with, and what size purse is that girl taking with her to work. It’s exciting what you can learn about a person just from looking at their bag. I’m always thinking about what pieces I could bring in that would compliment a wardrobe, and what I could design to add value to someone’s day to day.

That’s it in a nutshell. The online store went live Sept.15th, 2018 and it’s been an adventure everyday since! I love being a vegan designer and love all of my designs. I hope you love it too!

- Claire

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