It’s always exciting to discover a designer whose pieces you really love—and even more exciting when they’re based right here in Naples, like Christina Bower, the creative mind behind C.Blau, a line of colorful, minimalistic, American-made Italian leather clutches. Christina moved to Naples six years ago from New York City, where she worked and studied accessories design at the Fashion Institute of Technology. A few years after her move, she started C.Blau. “I was working as an active wear designer for Soma Intimates and began feeling a strong need to put my creativity towards something closer to my heart,” she says. “I’ve always gravitated towards clutch handbags and felt that I could never find one made in the exact leather that I wanted. So I decide to make some!”
Shop the C.Blau collection online or at Tickled Pink in downtown Naples. Or or stop by her trunk show to shop and meet Christina and Julie Brown of Julie Bee’s footwear on Feb. 27-28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, Naples. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How would you describe “the C.Blau girl”?
I have been so happy to see so many women with so many different styles get excited about my bags. I have customers ranging from recent college graduates in their 20s to women in their 70s. Whether it’s a bright aqua-colored snake-print bag or a classic cognac-colored ostrich-skin bag, my customers appreciate the quality and uniqueness. They understand the power that a simple accessory can have on an outfit.
What advice do you have for other women entrepreneurs?
Do what you love, and don’t be intimidated by the hard work that comes with it. Life is too short to not take risks. Start small and have a clear view and direction. Take the time to appreciate your achievements, and don’t be discouraged by the setbacks.
What inspires you?
Color. It could be the sight of a white heron flying against the silver clouds before a storm or the bright blue of a salvia flower. I’ve always been addicted to looking at colors and find myself flipping through the Benjamin Moore paint color wheel book just for fun!
That being said, loving colors doesn’t always have to mean bright colors. A beautiful sable color or deep indigo can be just as exciting as fuchsia!
I’m also inspired by New York City. I recently took a quick trip to shop for leathers. I love the grit and grime of the streets juxtaposed by the beautiful architecture. I spend hours scouring ever square inch of leather stores to find the perfect leather combinations for my bags.
What is your idea of Naples style?
I find that Naples has an interesting style. It has a definite casual, breezy feel, but many people have come from other cities and parts of the country and have brought that look with them. I find that people here want to be put together without feeling stuffy, but they also want to stand out. A great-fitting pair of jeans with a T-strap sandal and a white button-down shirt can take you far! Pair that with a beautiful, fern green colorblocked C.Blau clutch, and you’re set.
What item can’t you live without?
My J Brand mid-rise skinny jeans in a medium rinse shade. They look great and still allow me to chase after my one-and-a-half-year-old son! I also am addicted to my L’Occitane Immortelle day cream.
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All photos courtesy of Christina Bower