I did a post recently on how to make raffia flowers to decorate a purse like the ones that were popular in the 60s and 70s. Then, lo and behold, I came upon this beauty while out vintage shopping.
The label affixed to the interior reads “Hand decorated by Caron of Houston, Texas.” Had never heard of this label before. It just goes to show that no matter how many years you spend immersed in the business of vintage, there are always new discoveries and things to learn.
I was completely smitten with this cutie. The black tweed material, the raffia flowers with velvet petals, faux jewels and the metallic braid trim. I waivered on whether to keep or sell. But I have so many vintage purses in my closet right now, including a few I already picked up this summer, that I decided to put it for sale in my Etsy store so maybe it will go to a good home!
But I did want to see if I could find out any history on these bags. And after much digging through the deepest of the interwebs I found out some very interesting facts. I really do love this success story because it’s all about a tiny, home based business that ends up making it big, especially because it was started by women.
The founder of the company was named Velva Pepper. Don’t you just love that name?
Back in 1957, as a part time hobby, she started decorating ladies handbags with seashells, jewels, pearls, artificial flowers and beads for gifting to friends.
Apparently word spread about her adorable embellished purses and some local stores began carrying them. Velva’s daughter pitched in to meet the demand. Then once their husbands realized what a hot product their bags were, they partnered with them to form the official company, Caron, Inc.
They ended up with 65 employess and annual sales of $2,000,000.00. That’s equivalent to about $18million today! So they did quite well for themselves with their whimsical handbags.
Just think about it. This was way back before Etsy or any other online venues were available as a way to get a home based product out in the marketplace. Just word of mouth. It’s quite amazing, actually. Of course, back then you weren’t trying to compete with Amazon either!
I wasn’t able to find out why they chose that particular name for their company or how long it was in business. But since I can’t find any of their purses online past the 1960s era, it appears the company was only in operation less than a decade. But during their short time they sure made some unique, eyecatching purses!
Here are some newspaper advertisements I found for their bags.
Here are are couple of fabulous examples of Caron purses I found from the archive on the Vintage Purse Gallery blog.
And here are some lovely ones available now.
60s Caron of Houston beaded purse on Poshmark– $57
Pretty metallic gold lame’ Caron of Houston purse. Available on Etsy – $45
Enid Collins was another successful Texas designer of embellished purses and her bags are much more well known. Though I have to say, I think I like these Caron bags better! And they’re somewhat rare compared to the Collins bags.
So if you love unique purses and appreciate USA made, hand crafted products from women owned businesses,(even if it was over 50 years ago!) then consider a vintage Caron next time you’re in the mood for a standout statement bag.
Till next time….