Something to Give…Featuring: Jeni O’Brien

***Our “Something To Give…” blog series highlights members, family, friends, and/or supporters of Women in Design-Denver Chapter that have generously offered to donate a bit of their talent as a prize for the 1st Annual VIP Membership Celebration.***

We are very excited to highlight the creativity and generosity of one of our own, Jeni O'Brien. Jeni is the Chair of the Membership Committee for Women in Design and she works as a sales representative for Mountain Trade Supply.  She is also currently in the processing of launching her own handbag line.  To most that might sound like quite the work load but when you meet her you realize that Jeni has the energy and spunk to accomplish it all.

I had a chance to communicate with Jeni regarding both her professional design experience and her upcoming handbag line.  Here’s a bit of what Jeni had to say:

What are you donating: 

A cork handbag.

How did you get involved in making purses/jewelry?

I was helping my aunt with her line and was inspired to start my own line.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The creativity, sustainable story, and meeting terrific people.

What are you currently looking forward to?

Finishing my website and the Launch Party!

What makes you tick? 

Being with people.  I find needs and get random bursts of creativity.  When I get an idea, I HAVE to try it to see if it's worth developing. This purse line is my favorite idea yet, so I’ve promised myself to not touch the other ideas until this line is launched and parties are booked.

Is there a part of your industry that frustrates you?

Sales: I don't like the competition in sales. It can get ugly. I want people to use my products because they trust that me and my company/manufacturer will service them and protect them to the best our abilities.

Handbags: Finding reliable help and resources -especially sewers, and the price hikes for selling retail.  That's why I'm selling direct to make them affordable.

Can you name a woman who has been influential in your career?

I worked with my aunt, Lynn Gerber, on her handbag line, creating graphics and designs.  I learned the process and when I saw the cork material, I immediately visualized the handbag design. I have been developing it slowly, as time allows, and am excited to be able to launch the line in 2013.

(Lynn Gerber has a high end handbag line, called Eternal Perspective, handmade in Colorado out of Bison Leather.  The quality is exceptional and the style is South Western wear)

If you were a building material, what would you be?

Probably cork because of its unique beauty, flexibility, resiliency, durability, dependability, environmental responsibility and softness.

Finish this sentence:  To me, success is…

…the ability to balance life.  By living your faith, being happy in (and good at) your job, being an asset to the people in your life, giving back to the community, having fun and living life in the moment.

Give me one word to describe how you feel at the beginning of your day: 


What utensil/tool could you NOT live without?

Felt tip pens and pencils.  I still love the look and feel of writing with the human hand. With all this technology, can you believe it's becoming a lost art?

Can you think of a benefit from working with women or having a woman on your team? 

Absolutely! Women are well diverse in talent and nature. The best part is we quickly learn who is best at what, and use those talents to work together to get things accomplished.

Can you address how you fit in time for your purses/jewelry in addition to your regular work schedule?…What is that relationship like?

Hard one… I've been working on this for years. Unfortunately my handbags take a back seat to all my other commitments (MTS, Women in Design, ZeroLandfill, friends/family) But I am slowly getting closer to the launch date.  I get motivated by comments and spend chunks of time as I can when I get help or inspiration. I work best on deadlines.

Isn’t that how it always works?!  Best under pressure, it seems, Jeni’s Launch Party is not yet scheduled but you can get in touch with her at to receive an invitation to her Launch Party and more information about hosting a handbag party. Or, better yet, come to the WiD First Annual VIP Membership Celebration on January 25th (register here) to meet the wonderful creative mind and soul in person.

Written by Carisa Donahue

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