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One of my pet peeves is that Sarasota's fashion scene is often woefully underestimated--which somehow implies this city is not so jet-set. Well, let me plead otherwise.

To begin, I was introduced to the ever chic Edie Parker brand by the lovely Crystal Lahners at Sarasota Magazine's Best Of soirée in 2014; she was embracing a fab anniversary gift from her hubby. It was what I now consider the classic Edie Parker clutch, a pearlescent acrylic box with the word Happy in scripted gold glitter. Then she popped the kiss-lock to expose the interior mirror. Uh! Are you kidding me?! So old-school Hollywood to have a mirror installed in your bag. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. 

FYI: you can source any of the Edie Parker pieces featured in this blog at Rue in downtown Sarasota. This bon ton boutique is helmed by Natalie Morgan, who is style-casting all manner of inspired designers. This girl has an eye for "it" fashion. 

So. Now that I've made my case that our Sarasota doyennes are making a haute statement, let's hear from the woman who put these vintage-inspired modern accessories into play. Founder/designer Brett Heyman shares everything from being a CFDA Fashion Fund finalist to what's most important to her today, whether it's Hans Solo or Luke Skywalker for her. Read on!

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 For the woman getting to know Edie Parker, how has the brand’s silhouettes evolved beyond the gorgeous original acrylic boxes?

The bulk of our collections are still all acrylic, but sometimes a lady wants to show her softer side. We have been using suede, velvet, leather, python, crocodile, metal, gold, beading, tapestry, etc., all mixed with acrylic elements and signature silhouettes. We have added more bags with chains or straps, but all in an-organic way when it makes sense. 

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Does designing and inspiration come easy to you?
Living in a city like New York, I see inspiration everywhere. The hard part is editing and not doing too much all at once.

Who is the Edie Parker woman?
She is always confident, fashionable and doesn’t take fashion too seriously. She also appreciates pragmatic accessories--a bag that fits everything you need and has a handy mirror for touch-ups.

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You clearly hit on something chic and fun with personalization. Can you tell us some of your faves?
What I have noticed, and what is so lovely, is that traditionally the most positive messages are the most popular. Words like "happy," "love," "peace" and "joy" sell over and over. We have made a lot of bags that say "divorced," which is also amazing. Imagine the wonderful confidence of the single woman who goes out with that message on her bag!

What is more important to you today than it was a year ago?
I think every season I worry about the same thing. First of all, will people like the bags? And second, will our customer want to keep collecting? Will she try our new styles, our new silhouettes? I don’t want her to have one acrylic clutch and then move on. I want her to stay with us because of the quality of the product and the style, and I want her to take a chance on the next one!

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 Congrats on being a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, that’s seriously cool. Been dying to ask – was it exhilarating or intimidating to stand in front of style influencers like Jenna Lyons, Ken Downing, Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Wintour?
Both! It is seriously intimidating and they ask very pointed questions. But you have to remember that they chose you to be there. They want to help and they want to help you succeed. And then you have to pinch yourself over and over.

How would you steer the next generation of designers?
Obviously every situation is different, but I would say don’t rush to do everything at once. Master what you're good at, which takes a lot longer than you think.

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  ...And for the lightning round…

Luke Skywalker or Hans Solo?  Hans Solo! And he shoots first.

What music do you have on repeat?  Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell.

 Work of art you’d love to own?  A Modigliani nude.

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