The days of carrying laptops in boring cases are over. Entrepreneurs are melding the function of a laptop case with the style of a fashionable handbag. Here are just a few:
Talene Reilly Inc., founded by Nicole Arslanian, 31, and Julie Lazarus, 32, in July 2002: A classic look with a modern take, these cases look like tailored handbags that range from bright pinks to subtle browns. Arslanian and Lazarus envisioned a line of laptop cases that would look like handbags, holding necessities with space for a laptop. Arslanian got the idea when she caught a glimpse of her reflection while walking through an airport. She had her suitcase, purse and plain laptop cover. "I looked like a mess," she says. She took the idea to Lazarus, and they set out to manufacture and market their creation. The cases are sold online and at boutiques in Los Angeles and New York City. With 2004 sales expected to hit more than $200,000, the entrepreneurs plan to extend their line to include other accessories.
Casauri, founded by sisters Emily and Helena McHugh in 1999: Cases range from a futuristic, shiny silver or red material to understated nylon in colors like pink and navy. Inspiration struck these thirtysomething entrepreneurs while Emily was in business school. All students were required to have laptops, and Helena, with a background in design, created a case for Emily. Other students admired the creation, so after graduation, these East Orange, New Jersey, entrepreneurs jumped in. "We were inspired by what customers were telling us," says Emily. Their research worked-and their creations are now sold via their Web site and a few specialty boutiques. Sales for 2004 are expected to triple from the previous year.
Bleibtreu (pronounced blibe-troy), founded by Sarah Bleibtreu, 33, in 2002: These handmade creations range from relaxed, bohemian-inspired prints to funky-colored patterns. Bleibtreu got the idea while brushing her teeth-she realized she could never find the fun, stylish laptop case she had always wanted. She launched with the tag line "Handmade cases for machine-made objects" and now sells the bags on her Web site and at her New York City storefront. Expecting to reach profitability in 2005, Bleibtreu wants to expand into other handmade accessories.