• Blythe Leonard

The Woman Behind the Bag: Rebecca Bag


 Sarah Rebecca Leonard, my grandmother

         As you may very well know, my great-grandfather built the building that my company is housed in, and started and ran three vertical companies; Hill Spinning Mill, Hill Hosiery Mill, and Celand Yarn Dyers were his business babies. But, he also had three little babies, all little girls. One of them, Sarah Rebecca Hill, was my grandmother. Becky, as we all called her, was the woman behind the desk in the front office of Hill Hosiery Mill that ran the entire three businesses along with her other two sisters, husbands, sons, nephews and grandsons. I always remembered Becky as a numbers woman at her work but also at home. She had an “office” that was under the staircase at her house. It was a tiny little space; just room enough for a desk, her chair, calculator and a few filing cabinets. When you opened the door, there was always a pile of wooden yard sticks on the right side of the door. If you have been in my shop, you might recognize them the next time you shop. There are four yardsticks attached to four sides of the 1800’s door and sewing machine table that is in the middle of my shop. I used to always play with her calculator and pretend I was in business too. I would go around the house measuring table heights, chairs, door frames, and anything I thought could give me numbers that  I could add or subtract. Whenever you turned the light on, the calculator would turn on and make this clicking noise. I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

        When I was at her work, she was working, but when we were on vacation, numbers where never on her mind, or of what I could tell. My grandparents had this beach condo…oh that condo. I lost three teeth there, found out I was allergic to a certain sunscreen, had numerous card games, pillow fights, go kart races, firework sightings, cook outs, and burnt feet running to and from the complex’s pool area. Becky and I always woke up at the crack of dawn, I guess because she was used to getting up for work. At 6:00 am I would already have my bathing suit on sitting on the side of my parents bed begging for them to get up! I would get a “no, go back to sleep”, or “wait until 8:00.” So I would go in the living room with Becky and she would always ask, “what do you want for breakfast?” I loved it when she cooked me things like hot dogs or mac and cheese for breakfast because my mother would never ever let me eat that for breakfast. If you knew Becky, you knew her mac and cheese recipe was something you fought over, begged for, and pretended like it was awful only for a few seconds to see if you could trick the family into not eating it so you could get it later….that never worked out. But in the mornings at the beach, it was usually pancakes and bacon…lots and lots of pancakes. Sometimes it was scrambled eggs, cereal, orange juice and milk, but I mainly remember the pancakes. I loved it when she fried up the bacon because that scent woke the entire condo…closer time for me to go to the pool! I should have known then that my love for the beach was so strong.

        Becky always had grey pants, grey shoes and a black sweater. It was an outfit that I remembered her working in a lot. I know she had more than that, but it has always stuck out to be what she went to work in. About a year ago, I went to design a larger bag… a travel bag… a shampoo bottle, makeup bag, shoe carrying bag. I designed it sitting by the fire place at the Grove Park Inn, a family favorite vacation spot for Christmas. It was purely the style lines of the bag that was speaking to me, not anyone in particular like the previous bag styles. When I made the first bag, I picked burgundy cowhide leather and paired it with a grey cowhide. Once the bag was sewn completely, I immediately saw the grey pants, grey shoes, and the black sweater, my grandmother Becky. So it was born, the Rebecca Bag.

 Original Rebecca Bag, named after my grandmother

       The bag is 15x15x8 inches. The base has hand dyed vegetable tanned leather feet and a twelve inch handle drop. The front and back of the bag match in design with two corners on the bottom of the bag and a scalloped design on the top of the bag. The interior has multiple pockets and a brass or silver swivel trigger snap closure with D-ring. Each Rebecca bag is customizable by the color, the interior use, the handle length, dye color, and much more.

         Rebecca bags can be found at Hang Ups in High Point, North Carolina and at our flagship store in Thomasville, North Carolina.

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Located At Hang Ups, High Point, NC

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There are more Rebecca Bags not photoed at Hang Ups in High Point, NC and in my shop in Thomasville, NC.

#handmade #madeinusa #leathergoods #blog #style #grandmother #travel #bag #handbags

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Thomasville, NC

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