Toni Buchanan LLC was founded by mother daughter duo Thomasine Buchanan and Majia Buchanan. They established this startup company in 2017, which was based out of their brownstone apartment in Brooklyn NY. Toni Buchanan LLC is named after the independent, creative and self taught business woman Thomasine Buchanan who was given the nickname “Toni” by her mother.
Thomasine and Majia manufacture one of a kind, handmade leather handbags that are high quality statement pieces. It started initially to fund an Ottoman business venture that quickly turned into a passion and thriving business.
The vision behind the designs was to offer handbags that were not only handmade but were functional, fun, colorful but still classy and unique. Majia’s background in fashion design and Thomasine’s craftsmanship became the dynamic duo behind the self start up small business.
In the near future they hope to develop their product line and reach people on a national and international level, who appreciate the unique and classy designs. The majority of their sales came from creating custom pieces for their customers. To add to their signature piece, they recently branched into creating fanny packs for adults and kids. TB LLC has also placed their products in known celebrities hands and they have just gotten started.
With little background in starting a business the dynamic duo already had the desire and passion to learn the skills, along with being consistent and having the tenacity and understanding that you could surpass your dreams. They hope to inspire others that anything is possible and although there will be many failures, believing in yourself and others believing in your brand is very rewarding.
Dope Sista caught up with this dynamic duo to ask a few questions just in time for the holidays, and lucky for you, you can order their bags online. But, we'll get to that later.
DL: You started making handbags out of your brownstone apartment in Brooklyn with little background in starting a business. How tough was it to get started and to keep the momentum going?
TB: Keeping the momentum going always has its challenges and is not easy. Constantly feeling like you must go harder than everyone else to prove that you belong in this industry, in addition to having to prove that you have a great product that deserves to be seen, that is the difficult part.
Starting a business was always something we wanted to do. Fashion, designing and creating has always been a passion of ours. We felt like there was nothing we could not recreate or put our mind to. We always love challenging ourselves so when the opportunity arose, we jumped right at it. We continue to be a great support for each other, we also have a strong team that keeps us on our toes and our fans of course, that continue to motivate us to push forward daily.
Because we are self-taught, we did countless hours of research for over six months to create a signature look that meant something to us. To see ourselves get better and better with more practice kept us motivated in moving forward. To see how our customers and fans resonate with our products is always very rewarding. The countless messages from strangers encouraging us to stay strong and keep going is important because this is the kind of positive momentum we embrace. It is important that you believe in yourself and your product, in doing that, nothing can stop you.
DL: Fashion is modeled by women, but the industry is dominated by men. How has it been for two black women to break into the industry?
TB: Being a small business owner is hard, then adding our ethnicity and being women makes it even more challenging. These challenges make you want to push yourself harder to be seen and recognized in this industry. We are proud to be black women designers who offer luxury goods, but we want people to see our passion and love for what we do. We want to break those barriers and stereotypes and show the world our craft. Having a mother daughter business makes everything much more rewarding. Our goal is to get in front of a bigger audience and create opportunities for others who are interested in this industry.
DL: You make all your bags by hand; how long does it take to make just one bag?
TB: From start to finish, depending on the style of the bag can take up to eight hours to two days, all of this depends on the process of making that bag. We have to make our templates first, decide on the measurements we want, make a sample to assure that it’s practical. Once we are happy with our sample, we repeat the process and what you see is the finished product.
DL: A purse can make or break an outfit. It’s a statement piece. What statement are your purses making?
TB: We want our bags to be bold, unique, yet timeless and classy. Our handbags represent our culture and flare for life. From our signature wooden handles which gives a structural element, to our choice of bold and bright colors, the goal is to stand out and be recognized.
DL: Do you plan on making other accessories down the line?
TB: Our focus is handbags, totes, backpacks, duffle bags and other handbag related accessories. We also want to offer a men’s line so stay tuned, we have so much more to come.
DL: Can we find your purses in stores, if not where can we find them?