It is hard to imagine that a few years ago, handbag designer, Reese Li, was wearing combat boots and issuing orders to a platoon of 40 soldiers. These days, this former Army veteran is more likely to be found in an off-beat fabric store searching for hip fabric for her newest baby bags rather than running in military formation. Yes, Reese Li has traded in her ruck sacks for diaper bags and is fast becoming a popular designer with a loyal online following.
"I never imagined that I would be running my own business" says Reese who is a first born generation American of Chinese immigrants. Although I went to business school, I always pictured myself working on Wall Street, not sewing away in my home studio." Reese graduated cum laude with a B.S. in business administration from Boston University where she was also an R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officer Training Corps) scholarship recipient. After college, she was commissioned into the U.S. Army where she served as a Quartermaster Officer. She and her husband, her college sweetheart, were stationed in Savannah, Georgia for 4 years and eventually settled in Alexandria, Virginia where they now live with their 2 small children.
Reese's business was born out of her frustration at not being able to find the "perfect diaper bag". Everything she saw in stores was "too big, too ugly, or it didn't have enough pockets". Plus, she was tired of carrying the same generic black bag she had used for years. After the birth of her second child, she sat down one day to design a fashionable yet functional baby bag. "I wanted to make a diaper bag that didn't look like a typical diaper bag. Something that you'd love to carry around whether you had a baby or not." Armed with some fabric remnants and busy at her sewing machine for a few hours, she stitched up her first bag and viola! – Reese Li Baby was born.
Fanciful fabric combinations and innovative pocket designs have now become the signature elements of every Reese Li Baby bag. In October 2002, she began selling her unique baby bags on the popular internet auction site, eBay. Her bags were an instant hit with mommies all over the country and within months, she qualified to join the coveted eBay Power Sellers group. Soon after, baby boutique stores and online retailers clamoured to carry her line of diaper bags.
Highly successful, Reese Li has caught the eye of Lifetime Magazine and will be featured in their February 2004 issue for her unique product and smart business sense.