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Road Tripping to Designer Paige Hamilton's Studio and Factory

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Photos by Elizabeth Daniels

Handbag designer Paige Hamilton spent several years in New York and London where she developed a background in museums and costume design. It was these big city experiences and the need to haul everything from gym clothes to work shoes that inspired her business. "When I was living in New York and going to and from work I would always have three bags," the designer explained. "I thought, 'there's got to be a better bag.'" She brought that thinking with her when she moved to LA in 2005 and started her own handbag line with a mission to design versatile bags that would solve the black-hole epidemic.

The designer's bags are trimmed in leather and made of an indestructible Italian nylon that took Hamilton over a year to find. Designing for the practical customer, she has taken great consideration into everything from the tear-proof lining to the small pockets throughout the bag made for easy access to subway tickets, cell phones and lip gloss. "I design for every woman who carries a handbag that's her sanctuary," she says of the variety. Some bags are made to hold both gym clothes and laptops. And with everything from clutches to weekenders available in any color, her woman on-the-go has plenty of options.

We met the designer at her studio in the heart of all things UCLA, where she handles everything from shipping to sketching and designing, before heading over to the Burbank factory where production of the line was in full swing.

Walk us through your design process.
"Every morning when I get up I meditate and then draw right after, most of the time that's where the designs end up coming from. Then I'll get started with my day. I go back in the middle of the day and look and say 'Oh, that element may be able to go here' or 'that's a whole bag.' It usually comes after I clear the cobwebs out. We'll get the drawings right and then go to the factory and start making the bags and the patterns."

Where do you find your inspiration?
"Travel. For example, I was in Japan and I found this Japanese rock garden and drew it and that became a pocket. I'll be walking around and I may see a cool shape so I'll take a picture and sketch it. Just walking around. I find a lot of inspiration from nature."

Why did you choose the Westwood area for your design studio?
"I actually ran everything out of a house and then the it sold so I had to scramble for an apartment and office space. It just sort of fell in my lap. There aren't that many small spaces on the west side and this just happened to work."

Where do you like to go around here when you're off?
"Frida is really fun, there's a lot happening down there. The W Hotel is really nice; it's about a block away. Then for lunch, there's a great farmers market that happens on Thursdays. There's also Le Pain Quotidien, Barney's Beanery, and Native Foods."

Use discount code RackedLA for the next 30 days for 25% off your purchase at
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