Nashville’s Hottest Handbags (and Shoes!)
Few purchases are more satisfying than a perfect handbag. It’s always a challenge to find something high quality, versatile, and classic-but-still-trendy. Somehow, each of Ceri Hoover’s designs seems to meet all the requirements. Her leather flat totes are the ideal bags for work and play. Sleek, simple, and sturdy, they’ll last many trips between the office and the bar—for years at a time.
Originally from North Carolina, Hoover established her accessories company in 2013 and opened her 12 South flagship location in 2016. Ever up for a challenge, she recently began designing shoes as well. With chic and natural wood heels, her new pumps and sandals are a perfect match for her bags.
You added shoe design to your repertoire not too long ago. What were some of the biggest challenges, and how did you ensure that the new designs were on-brand?
The biggest challenge was figuring out where to start! (Turns out that’s the biggest challenge of any new project, by the way.) And of course finding a manufacturer or two that I could trust and that could work with a neophyte like myself. Fortunately, I found a resource in LA that knows that scene really well. She helps me navigate it all. As for keeping “on brand,” I don’t really concern myself too much. I knew I wanted to use the same leather for the shoes as I do for the bags whenever possible, so that helped. But really, just like with the bags, I design a shoe that I like and that reflects my taste, and I let the brand take shape from that.
You recently opened your flagship store in the 12 South neighborhood. How’d you choose the area? Any favorite neighbors?
I don’t think I ever really considered any other neighborhood. We looked around, but nowhere had the same combination of locals, tourists, people strolling… Of course, all of that is because of the great local businesses that are there already. We love our next-door neighbor Sloco/Meet Room, of course, and we salute Imogene + Willie and Mafioza’s for being true pioneers on the block. Did I mention that we live two blocks from the shop? That also was a big factor. We spend 80% of our time in Nashville in 12 South, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
You wrote on your blog that a trip to Italy inspired your most recent collection. Any other particular places or experiences that have inspired you in the past or are inspiring your work for next season?
I look for inspiration wherever I am and wherever I go. A trip to Coronado Island in San Diego two years ago inspired last spring, and Italy did the same for this spring. This past spring we went to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve already started incorporating the incredible vibrancy into next year’s designs.
Most important elements to look for in a handbag?
The quality of the material is number one, for sure. The simplest design can be magnificently luxurious with the right material. And of course, the converse also is true; a truly inspired design can be ruined by shoddy material. After that, it’s how well a handbag ages. I love running into folks on the street that are carrying some of my earliest designs, and it looks like they’ve carried them every day for five years. While I would suggest buying the latest model every season of course (wink wink), durability is key. Don’t get me started on “fast fashion.” Buy great quality and your money is never wasted.