‘Resourceful’ designer turns vintage dresses into new handbags

Eastern Passage woman runs eco-friendly business

Heather Inglis-Quinn shows off one of her eco-couture handbags at her home studio in Eastern Passage, N.S.   Grace Power

A new couture handbag business is in the works for designer and entrepreneur Heather Inglis-Quinn after her bridal shop went out of business earlier this year.

Inglis-Quinn, previous owner of Erica’s Bridal and Christening Gowns, builds the bags from scratch at her home studio in Eastern Passage, N.S. She plans to test out her designs, which she calls “eco-couture,” at the Christmas in Cole Harbour Craft Market.

“There’s two different kinds of entrepreneurs,” she says. “You make money and you sell it. Then there’s the other kind, like me, with the passion. I was brought up with that.”

Inglis-Quinn has spent her life designing clothes and working with fabric. At the age of seven, she was inspired by comic book fashionista Katy Keene to start creating outfits for her dolls. After that, she says, she never stopped.

The name “eco-couture” refers to the fact that the purses are both made from scratch and environmentally responsible. Each one is built from repurposed vintage fabric. Inglis-Quinn says she’s carried over the theme of environmental responsibility from her previous work cleaning wedding gowns. She started that business after seeing a need for safe, natural and professional stain removal.

“I just one day started looking up you know, say, what vinegar does, what this does. So now I have over 2,200 cards. It’s my life work,” she says. “When I attack a stain, I pick out six of [the cards], I try one. It doesn’t work. I neutralize the stain. I do it again. Until it works.”

‘She always has plans’

Rose Marie MacPhee is Inglis-Quinn’s oldest friend. They grew up together in New Glasgow, N.S. MacPhee says she wasn’t surprised when Inglis-Quinn decided to go into fashion.

“Her mother was extremely creative, in many ways. She was a poet, but she was also an artist. So this was a natural introduction for [Inglis-Quinn] into the world of design,” MacPhee says.

She says her friend finds “pure joy” in beautiful clothing, and was always making and designing clothes when they were growing up.

“Heather is very resourceful, and she always has plans,” MacPhee says. “She had this yen to go to Scotland. So all on her own, when she graduated from design school, she went to Scotland to work.”

MacPhee says Inglis-Quinn has been making purses for several years. Eco-couture is her latest venture.

Inglis-Quinn will begin selling her line of purses at the Christmas in Cole Harbour Craft Market. The market runs Nov. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cole Harbour Place.

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