A local entrepreneur wants to bring girl power to luxury—one handbag at a time.
For Sage Aubrey, the key to personal style is not clothing choices—it’s how you carry yourself. And she should know. She is, after all, a handbag designer. Aubrey launched her eponymous fashion brand in 2015 and became Instagram-famous with her unique designs, sassy demeanor and inspiring message of female empowerment. But success did not come easily for the Arcadia native. At 21, she launched a thriving boutique and by 26 was nominated as one of the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30 in the Valley. “That all came to a screeching halt when the economy crashed,” she recalls. Aubrey moved to Malaysia with her husband and discovered a new calling—eradicating sex trafficking. She traveled the world, embedding in communities with victims and speaking on panels about the topic, and eventually opened her own nonprofit. “It was incredible and at the same time it changed me as a woman,” she recalls. “I knew that anything I would ever do in the future would be to support women on a whole other scale.” She returned to fashion, this time with a desire to create a signature design. “I knew everything on the other side of the business,” says Aubrey, who studied cosmetic and fragrance merchandising at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in L.A. “I knew about going to shows, buying, retailing and merchandising. But I didn’t know about the design component whatsoever.” She spent six months furiously researching iconic luxury brands and devising the signature for her hexagon-shaped Italian leather bags. But Aubrey also discovered a fundamental problem with the luxury industry. “Most luxury brands market through intimidation,” she says. “From the lighting to the people they hire, it’s designed to make you feel judged.” That’s when Aubrey realized she had a mission much more powerful than creating handbags—she wanted to change the concept of luxury altogether. “We as women are happier when we are building community and uplifting each other,” she says. “And we should be wearing items that connect, not exclude, us.” Last year, her brand donated 50 bags to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, a local organization dedicated to helping women transform their lives. “I want to be able to say, ‘Here are some really key beautiful pieces to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something and you’re ready to go start your career or get a job,’” says the mother of daughters Sena, 4, and Beaux, 2. “I think sometimes it’s the little things in life that really help us feel elevated.” And she’s not looking back, either. “Through all the failures, through all the ups and downs, and coming into an industry where I didn’t fit in, I realized I don’t have to fit in... and I don’t want to.”
“I grab my phone and, over a cup of coffee, begin crafting my Instagram post for the day. For breakfast, I usually have a toasted half bagel with cream cheese. On Fridays, my assistant and I indulge in First Place Coffee lattes.”
“I head into the Sage Aubrey office. When I arrive at work, I bring my whole heart [to inspire] the squad every day.”
“My day is spent in the office or in meetings. As a designer working with manufacturers, I am always running into production issues, but my greatest obstacle is trying to find a work-life balance. If I don’t remember to eat lunch, I always have a MacroBar to snack on.”
“I leave work to hang out with my girls and spend uninterrupted quality time with them.”
“When I get home, the highlight of my day is drinking tea with my husband next to me on the couch. Sometimes we wind down with a cocktail at Steak 44.”
Photography by: coffee photo by Nathan Dumlao | bag photo by orlando pelagio/courtesy of sage aubrey | sage aubrey photo by fully alive photography | neon sign photo By Fabian Møller/Unsplash