NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - It started as a romantic idea but quickly became a passionate love affair. “We were traveling and I was like ‘Ugh! I should have a jewelry line, I should just have a purse line, I don’t need to be buying these things, I just need to make exactly what I want… and it didn’t occur to me that ‘hey’ I could do that,” says Reagan Charleston.
“I also realized the drive that I have to get something done and to sit down and say ‘OK, I’m going to go and buy some alligator skins and come home and have my husband say ‘what are you going to do with those?’ I’m going to make some purses… and I didn’t have anyone to make purses and he’s like ‘well who’s going to make your handbags?’ I don’t know I’m going to find somebody.” And that’s exactly what she did. Groomed by her artist grandparents growing up, she tapped into her family history and followed her heart.
“My first collection was inspired by our honeymoon travels and I came back and that was the very first piece I did which was the Leone. I wanted to have something that commemorated my husband and I’s honeymoon and we had been all over Italy and in Florence in particular I’d seen lion doorknockers everywhere. I’m a Leo so I really wanted this piece. I came home and said I’m going to have this done,” recalls Charleston of her first design.
It didn’t take long before women everywhere took note of the gorgeous jewelry. “At first I was like it’s mine and they were like ‘yeah, you’re wearing it.’ No I designed it and that was really an extraordinary feeling to have somebody compliment and then to have people want to buy it ‘well where can I buy it?’ I’m like well, you know hold on, I’ll get back to you.”
One year later, Reagan Charleston jewelry and accessories can be spotted on runways, in magazines, even on celebrities. It’s a testament to the strength of her home team with husband Jeff, former New Orleans Saints player now her biggest cheerleader. “It was lucky for me that he was so open and warm because many husbands wouldn’t be so understanding about somebody saying ‘I’m going to design a line. I’m going to have a jewelry line and a purse line and I don’t know what’s next but I’m going to have many lines.’ He’s in Tulane right now getting his MBA and he still makes the time to help me make deadlines and rush shipments out and he’s going to pick up alligator for me, he’s really embraced Louisiana, this Oregon boy buying alligator to make purses in between MBA business classes… I don’t know where you find a story like that except New Orleans.”
From football to fashion, some things never change, the Charleston’s continue to prepare for next season.
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