Fresno State students and local female business leaders got a big treat at a special luncheon on campus Wednesday. As I promised you in a previous blog, two executives from the popular national designer Vera Bradley came to town to celebrate the opening of local business Top Drawer’s new location – and brought with them some big news.
Vera Bradley co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and CEO Robert Wallstrom announced at a special luncheon on campus that Vera Bradley is partnering with Fresno State to create a new line of Bulldog-branded collegiate bags and accessories, making Fresno State one of less than 20 colleges in the country that will have their own Vera Bradley line.
The project came at the suggestion of Robert after he agreed to come to town with Barbara to speak to students at the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s “Pay It Forward” Luncheon Series, which brings together female Fresno State students and female business leaders in the community. The series aims to create a networking mentorship program for students so they can have a meaningful dialogue with professional women.
Time Out and Victor E were even on hand to model the new products along with some students from the school’s fashion merchandising department. The bags, which were designed and created on an accelerated timetable in order to be ready for the luncheon, were presented in a Fresno State blue print with a Fresno State bulldog logo stitched on each. These products were one-of-kind and were raffled off to students. The actual line will be sold in a Fresno State red, I’m told, in the different styles I’m posting in this blog. Pre-orders are already being taken at Top Drawer in Fig Garden and River Park.
Barbara told me that the collegiate lines have been an important addition for Vera Bradley because she started with college campuses, designing with students in mind decades ago when her own children were in college. She also said Vera Bradley’s partnerships independent retailers like Top Drawer are important because of the camaraderie between local business owners and their customers. That’s why it was important for her to come to Fresno to support the new store’s grand opening.
As for the execs’ advice to students at the lunch? Passion for your work was a theme outlined by Barbara, Robert and Top Drawer owner Jane. The Vera Bradley team also emphasized the importance of company values, and told students to make sure they go to work for a company they respect.
The full Fresno State line by Vera Bradley will be available in May at Top Drawer stores. As a Fresno State grad myself (and a fashion lover), I am so excited to see a brand I love designing on such a local level! I’ll definitely be snagging a couple of items to show my Bulldog pride! Especially a blanket to snuggle under during baseball games! To find out more about Top Drawer or inquire about an order, check out their Facebook page or call 559-431-9900.
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