192 years ago yesterday, February 15, Susan B. Anthony was born. We all know her as the pioneering 19th century suffragist who was one of the most important advocates in leading the way for women’s rights to be acknowledged and instituted in the U.S. In doing so, Ms. Anthony traveled across the country and to Europe for the cause, averaging 75 to 100 powerful speeches per year on the topic. No matter where she went or what she was doing, the one thing that Ms. Anthony always had with her was her trademark alligator purse or satchel as it was called back then. This bag, which carried some of the most influential writings and speeches in the fight for women’s rights, was the inspiration behind the Purse With A Purpose collection from Abigail Riggs, a very special handbag company founded by Woman You Should Know Gail Riggs.
Her company was born ten years ago from Gail’s desire to teach her daughter, Abigail, about empowerment and generosity. Gail’s vision materialized in the form of one-of-a-kind, couture handbags that she designed herself. In the beginning, many of the bags she made were donated to local charities to raise money at auctions for various worthy causes. As her handbags proved incredibly successful in fundraising, the demand began to exceed Gail’s one-woman-show production capacity and she expanded. A collaboration to produce handbags for the Susan B. Anthony House in 2010, then quickly launched the fruits of Gail’s homegrown good work into the blossoming accessories brand, Abigail Riggs.
This brand evolution gave Gail the opportunity to further develop the original mission of Abigail Riggs – empowerment and generosity – to include the ability to teach her daughter and other women about the female pioneers who came before us and about the amazing women who often suffered great personal sacrifice to pave the way for us. According to Gail, who is still the brand’s chief designer, “I wanted to produce handbags that were not only functional and beautiful, but served to inspire the women who wore them.”
Purse With A Purpose is the first, official collection under the Abigail Riggs brand name. The limited edition and numbered purses in this collection are all designed for significant women in history. The three current styles – Ms. Anthony (for Susan B. Anthony), Ms. Bouvier (for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis) and Ms. Annie (for Annie Oakley) – each bear a notable quote from their respective namesake. The inspiring words are engraved into metal plates that are prominently placed on the backside of every bag to remind the wearer of the strength and sisterhood stitched into women’s history.
While all of the bags in the Purse With A Purpose collection are created to reflect the spirit of the historic women they honor, they are also designed by Gail – a woman of great style – with an on-trend, fashion edge for modern women. Beyond the gorgeous aesthetic look and fine craftsmanship of the bags, their true beauty lies in the fact that Gail, a generous philanthropist and humanitarian, designs them specifically to raise money for a number of good causes.
Ms. Anthony Bag
The Ms. Anthony, an homage to Susan B., is now enjoying its second limited edition production run. This handmade, structured bag is a more fashionable and sophisticated take on the trademark alligator, doctor-style satchel that Susan B. Anthony toted with her everywhere.
“Failure is impossible”, a quote made famous by this female champion for equal rights, appears on the back of the purse. The Ms. Anthony bag is available in 28 color combinations of leather and suede, in addition to a vegan option.
Through the proceeds of her first limited edition run, the original Ms. Anthony raised over $250,000 for the Susan B. Anthony House Museum and local charities in Rochester, NY. A percentage of Ms. Anthony’s sales continue to support the Susan B. Anthony House Museum.
Ms. Annie Bag
An ode to Annie Oakley, the American sharpshooter and first American female superstar (think Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show), this bohemian style messenger bag is the hipster of the group.
Handmade of the highest quality leather and suede with a genuine turquoise accent, it is large enough to fit an iPad and all of the other essentials that on-the-go women have to carry along with them today. The Ms. Annie bag can be worn with the flap showing the leather or suede side and is available in two rich shades of brown – clay or mudpie.
The quote that this bag sports is, “Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting, for only practice will make you perfect. Finally, you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.” – Annie Oakley, 1912
A percentage of Ms. Annie’s sales go to support the Hospital Patient Safety Initiative, a national Hospital Safety movement spearheaded by Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, NY.
Ms. Bouvier Bag
Ms. Bouvier, a super chic clutch with a detachable chain strap, is available in crocodile embossed or plain black leather with a purple suede-lined interior. She is adorned with the Abigail Riggs gold, queen bee medallion. An engraved plate on the back of the clutch showcases the words of first lady and style icon, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, “I am a woman above everything else”. 20% of the Ms. Bouvier bag’s sales go to The Center for Youth in Rochester, NY.
We just love the concept of Abigail Riggs and are inspired by the way Gail effortlessly combines fashion and function with meaning. We cannot wait to see which historic woman the Purse With A Purpose collection will honor next.