Woman tells how her successful handmade leather travel bag business started after a class project

Abu Mubarik October 31, 2021
Jovanna Robinson launched Tonē Bekka in 2014. Photo: Facebook/Tonē Bekka

Jovanna Robinson created a bag during an assignment in a Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) class that caught the attention of everyone. It also kickstarted her journey to start Tonē Bekka in 2014.

Tonē Bekka is into the production of handmade leather travel bags and accessories. She sources her raw materials directly from Africa and even some of her products are enhanced with Ankara prints.

Due to the quality of her products, her bags and accessories are carried by The Brown Sugar Collab, a boutique in Charlotte, North Carolina. DeAnna Allen, who is the owner of the boutique, told The Columbus Dispatch why she works with Robinson.

“She uses a high-grade leather and her stitching is impeccable,” said Allen, 47. “I’ve traveled all around the world and my favorite bags come from Italy. And her bags would give them a good run for their money. I love her patterns.”

Before starting Tonē Bekka, Robinson took a break from her original college career at the University of Cincinnati and enrolled at CCAD.

A wife and mom, she committed to her design career full-time in 2018 after working at J.Crew and for a law firm. She and her husband relied on good old personal savings to start the business.

“I’ve seen her skill level increase from that first bag that she made at CCAD,” said Robinson’s husband, Rance, 40. “Seeing her progression as a maker and as a business person, as well as becoming more confident, it’s been a brilliant experience.”

Robinson has had challenges getting access to capital, and some clientele, she told the Dispatch. And when the pandemic struck, she realized that no one was going to buy travel bags. Thus, she started designing masks and pairing them with matching clutches.

Robinson said she now hopes to teach sewing classes to adults, and eventually have her own shop with a few employees making her products by hand.

“My goal is to have the boutique in the front, and then in the back is where all the magic happens.”

On her website, the leather travel bag designer and creator has mentioned the fact that she loves to “create beautifully crafted leather bags for the traveler, businessman/woman, fitness enthusiast, Boss mom, bag lovers and all those who appreciate carrying art on their arms.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 1, 2021


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