With a grandfather who was a leather tanner and a grandmother an expert seamstress,
Eulalee Howell’s childhood fascination with leather and leather products was inevitable.
“My grandmother could just look at something and make an identical replica,” said
Eulalee (pronounced You-lah-lee), describing a powerful memory from her childhood in
Jamaica. “I guess it’s just in my blood.”
After moving to New York, Eulalee looked for vintage leather handbags to sell at her
city chic booth at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. When she couldn’t find any, she began
making them herself. With the help of her husband, Manzie, she cut up used leather
coats to make simple messenger bags, which quickly sold out.
When local college girls asked her to make small pouches and saddle bags, Eulalee
decided to make bags full-time. She bought top-drawer leather, an industrial leather
sewing machine, and a skiver to perfect the stitching process.
Eulalee designed the bags herself, each hand dyed and one-of a kind. They flew off the
With a friend, she began to create vintage-looking spectator bags, which are now
selling at major Japanese department stores.
Friend and partner Patricia Soll – who gave Eulalee her first sewing machine as a gift
20 years ago – helped launch Eulalee’s online store. Now everyone can buy unique and
beautiful bags whose roots stretch back to a young girl’s Jamaican childhood.