Emily Stroud always wanted to be her own boss. After working for a pharmaceutical company for 10 years, she started thinking about ideas for starting a business. Then one day it hit her: “My husband, the kids and I spend a lot of time at the beach,” she says, “and I never had the perfect beach bag that was functional, durable and stylish at the same time.”
Stroud researched different materials, eventually settling on sailcloth for its durability and resistance to sand and stains, and asked as many people as she could for input and advice. She found a manufacturer in Indiana, hired freelancers for design (lots of bright colors and beach-themed images), set up a website and social media, and by the end of March 2012 received her first bags.
She launched her company, Hayden Reis (named for her two kids), that Memorial Day weekend. The first two retail locations were Pure Barre and The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Now Hayden Reis bags have been picked up by at least 23 stores across the country and have been featured in Fitness, In Style and Style magazines, among others. As of March, Stroud had sold at least 600 bags. Prices range from $139 to $188. Basic bags without an image sell for $68 on the company’s website, haydenreis.com.
Stroud is looking for ways to expand with smaller bags for accessories and mesh bags for seashells. She’s also learning the challenges of running her own business. “I’ve had to learn that I can’t necessarily get everything done each day. I have to prioritize,” she says.