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Sitting down with Leslie Newton, Creative Genius behind timi & leslie

Today we are speaking with Leslie Newton, the creative genius behind the beautiful diaper bag line timi & leslie.  Leslie is the mom that we all wish we could be, impeccably well-dressed, confident, focused and incredibly sweet to her daughter who often visits her mom in her loft workspace. 

For those of you moms who are not that familiar with timi & leslie, they were really the first of the high-end diaper bags.  It used to be that diaper bags were well, just bags.  They were an after-thought, much like maternity clothes were just big swatches of fabric sewn together.  Leslie changed the diaper bag world for the better in 1999 when she introduced her first diaper bag, and we can all thank her for that!

Leslie, how did you start designing diaper bags?

I had a baby shower to go to, and I sewed a fabric diaper bag for the mom-to-be.  At the shower, the other women went nuts when they saw it, and asked me to make them their own bags.  I made a few others and sold them for $25, and people absolutely loved it.  Things took off for me from there.

Wow, you hear about these stories of women having ideas for products, but your story is such an inspiration!  Did you go to school for design?

Actually no, I am completely self-taught.  I purchased 5-10 yards of fabric and found a woman who could sew my first sample bags.  At first I started with vintage fabric inspired by my grandmother’s vintage 1950’s couch.  However, it was really hard to continue finding these vintage fabrics.

Your first hurdle!  What did you do next?

My friend Timi came into the picture and we decided to start a company selling both handbags and diaper bags.  We perfected the diaper bag design, and also started creating handbags both in leather and fabric.  They still had the same feel as my first vintage fabric bags, just with a more constructed look.

Eventually I was working on timi & leslie on my own, and I wanted to take the company in a different direction.  The diaper bag market was so saturated with designs similar to the first ones I did. This is when, about five years ago, I decided to combine my handbag and diaper bag designing skills to make a diaper bag that looked like a real handbag.  We had an immediate huge response.

And all of us mommies today thank you for it!  What sets your bags apart?

As a mom, I was always exhausted and the last thing I had time for was fashion.  Therefore, I really wanted a diaper bag that was both stylish and fashionable as it had become my primary accessory.  Our diaper bags stand apart from the rest of our competition because we stay on trend with fashion, and incorporate all the current trends into our designs.

I have the functionality of the diaper bags down to a science.  All of my bags contain:

  • An interior zipper pocket for essentials
  • Four interior elasticized pockets for diapers, wipes and creams or bottles
  • One roomy interior flat pocket
  • A changing pad with a mesh pocket for diapers, wipes and creams
  • An insulated bottle tote
  • A dirty clothes sack
  • A wristlet for moms to store their credit cards, money and other essentials, which they can take out and easily use at night.
  • A key fob
  • Stroller straps
  • A cross body strap

So please tell us, how do you manage not to lose your phone every day?

I trained myself where to put my phone and keys.  They go in the back outer zipper pocket along with business cards.  If you put it in the same place every time, you are much less likely to lose your phone!

So how do you design new bags?

First we do a basic bag design.  We play around with swatch cards to determine which fabrics will best suit each bag.  After some discussion, we narrow each bag down to six different colors.  Over time we narrow the color selection down to three to four colors.

What is your best-selling bag?

Our Charlie bag, which is currently a number one seller, has been photographed with Jessica Alba and the singer, Pink, and comes in a variety of colors.

Other MomMe favorites include the Baby Jane, and the Marie Antoinette with a smart magnetic closure.  The Hayley messenger bag is a fun fold-over mom bag that is just stunning in person.

Do you have any advice to other MomPreneurs?

If you have an idea, seek all the constructive advice and mentoring you can, and go for it.  If you currently have a business, be willing to evolve to stay relevant.

So lastly, what is the best way to clean a timi & leslie diaper bag?

All you have to do is wipe it down with a damp cloth.  You can also use organic cleaning sprays, like the type you use to clean a highchair, for a serious spill.  Let the bag dry and you are all set!