17 May 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Sharon Davies is the Founder and Creative Director of The Vanity Case Company, a luxury leather brand that creates stylish, bespoke travel cases and accessories. Her aim is to reinvigorate travel, by replacing tired and uninspired luggage with timeless vanity cases that pay tribute to heritage and nostalgia whilst honouring the modern woman. Whether her clients are discerning travellers or successful businesswomen, Sharon’s desire is to enhance the female identity through 100% British handcrafted vanity cases which reflect who her clients are…
“Looking back, my career has predominantly been based in the industry of business management and development. It was never planned that way; in fact I always thought it would be centered on my love of art and design, but sometimes life has something else in store for us and when I was offered two amazing opportunities in the business sector I accepted them eagerly without question. These significant and gratifying roles were as a group sales training manager for an international media organisation and as a business planning and global communications manager for a fortune 500 company.
However, things dramatically changed four years ago, when I was away on a business trip in Europe. Little did I know then that the simple act of observing a group of female entrepreneurs arriving at their hotel would catapult my career in a totally new direction.
As I sat ‘people-watching’ in the foyer of my Parisian hotel I suddenly realised that neither I, nor any of the other female travellers had anything near luxurious or stylish enough to reflect the beauty of our surroundings or the importance of our trip. I saw either unflattering bags or mismatched luggage that reflected nothing about who we were as women. My mind wondered back to a time when I watched classic movies with my mother, I mused over the fact that the icons of those days carried alluring vanity cases which echoed old Hollywood glamour and oozed flair and sophistication.
On my return to the UK, I couldn’t stop thinking that there was a need for femininity to return to travel cases and spent months researching only to find that there was a huge gap in the market for well-designed hand luggage that was not only practical, but also beautiful. I decided to design and create a vanity case made with the finest materials which would enable women to feel stylish and chic again whilst travelling. Unfortunately, I then spent the next three years trying to find a British manufacturer who could produce an outstanding luxury product based on my “classic D shape” design.
I extensively searched areas of the UK that were synonymous with the leather trade. However, as a woman in her 50’s and new to the industry, I was snubbed and belittled by the older traditional craftsmen, who were not in alignment with my vision and did not take to “newbies” easily. Despite this being my initial experience, I was dedicated and determined to support what was then described to me by many as “the dying, leather industry in Britain.”
“British Made” is extremely important to us as a brand as we believe it represents exceptional quality, consistency and transparency, so it was always important to keep manufacturing in the UK. Eventually, I found the perfect artisan, who has over thirty years of experience making bespoke leather products for Royalty, discerning clients and celebrities; he now makes vanity cases solely for The Vanity Case Company.
I must admit there have been times when the journey of creating such a notable product seemed near impossible, and on occasions I did doubt if I could achieve my vision purely because of how difficult it was to find the right manufacturer. However, based on the old adage by William Arthur Ward, I held fast in my belief that if I could visualise, imagine or dream it, then I must be able to make it a reality and create a beautiful and functional product that women would cherish and pass down through generations.
Four years on, we have come a long way and now offer two ranges, the first is our capsule, prêt-à-porter range entitled “Individuality” which can be purchased online through our 3D virtual case builder and our second range is “Iconic” which is our premium couture range which features a wealth of additional services and offers an almost limitless number of design options. Our clients are invited to a personal 1:1 consultation with a dedicated stylist to ensure their case is not only created to their exact requirements, but so it also reflects their personality, this is carried out in exactly the same way an artist encapsulates the sitter’s personality into a portrait.
As a socially and culturally aware brand, it is important for us to use ethical and sustainably sourced real soft calf leather, exotics and vegan leather options (PETA Approved). We use materials in alignment with our client’s religious or humanitarian values and beliefs, as we believe no woman should be discriminated against in her personal choice of materials. In an age of overproduction and in alignment with our own values all of our products are custom made to responsibly reduce waste.
The impact of Covid 19:
We were super excited about officially launching our brand at the beginning of 2020, however unfortunately the pandemic took the world by storm creating a total lockdown and ban on all national and international travel. Clearly, from a business perspective this was not an ideal time to launch the company as people were not travelling or buying luxury luggage, but more importantly we wanted to be sensitive to the enormity of the worldwide health situation. Now in 2021 we are excited for our future, as we believe that now, more than ever, as restrictions are easing people are thinking about how they can escape the confines of lockdown and travel to both new and familiar destinations.
Although there have been quite a few challenges along the way I am so proud of how far we have come. If I had to make the choice again as to whether I would become a female entrepreneur in an age of an international pandemic – I am pleased to say I would still choose the same path.
Words of advice I would like to pass onto other women who are just starting out in in business would be…
· Stay the course – don’t be swayed by other people’s negative beliefs and opinions.
· Know what makes you and your brand stand out from the crowd.
· Write a business plan and update it regularly to keep you present and focused
· Believe in your own self-worth, act in integrity and trust the process.
· Remember when the going gets tough – there is always a resolution or solution of equal proportion to every problem or need – use the mantra “Everything is always working out for me!”
So, where are we now? Our vision for the future is to continue to build a strong and trusted global brand that delivers impeccable customer service. We are currently designing a range of both silk and leather accessories to match our cases.
Our desire is to carry on actively supporting local, international, social and humanitarian projects through our initiative – Vanity for Humanity. Our aim is to continue to donate a percentage of our profits into supporting women from all walks of life who need support either personally or professionally.