My name is Liz Strazzella and I am the founder of Niche Design and Import LLC. I feel incredibly vulnerable talking about my journey as an accessory designer. Honestly, I have never felt like my experience was particularly outstanding or unique in my industry, but I have always found that my history has allowed me to answer my clients questions with the confidence that comes with having encountered their problem and been forced to find a solution the hard way. I hope that this website saves some people the frustration and time it takes to learn only through experience. I also hope that this website can grow into a community of designers who work together and help each other out! By no stretch of imagination do I know the only way to do things – and this industry is constantly evolving. I continue to evolve in my career and if you are reading any of my articles and know a better way to do something please reach out to me. I love to learn and grow – and I want to share your experiences too!
Now without further a do, here is my story:
I am a boot-strappin’ get my hands dirty kind of fashion accessory design and sourcing expert.
I began my career as a tender-hearted college grad ready to take on the world, starting with sunny Los Angeles, California. From my very first job as an assistant accessory designer in the surf industry I was enchanted by the combination of art and engineering found in creating bags and accessories. I always have loved my career field, and honestly you need to love it if you are going to be successful in this field. As an assistant, I needed to work full time 8am-6pm in the office, and then go work cocktailing at a local bar from 8pm-2am every day just to pay for my shared bedroom in a 4 bedroom apartment! While the schedule was crazy I was fueled by the excitement of being in the fashion industry and by the friends I met working at the bar – some of whom have gone on to have impressive fashion careers themselves.
Over the course of 15 years my career evolved, my skillset grew and before I knew it I found myself travelling to China every other month to stay for 3 weeks and develop fashion accessories for better department stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdales as well as fast fashion stores like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters. I travelled alone and made friends in every new part of the country. I got to spend time at the fabric markets and leather tanneries selecting materials and learning about each fabric. I spoke with hardware suppliers about their process and worked hands-on with the pattern makers and sewers to learn how a bag that is well designed will function better and be more cost effective to produce. I learned SO MUCH, but one of the most important lessons was to trust your sample maker or factory and work with them to solve problems. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to learn to stay true to your design but also be flexible when your sample maker suggests another way.
In 2016 after the birth of my first son my family and I opted to relocate to a new city and found our home in Savannah Georgia. Life here is slower, but even with 2 toddlers running around the house I found I could not say farewell to the career I love. I decided instead to offer my services helping up and coming brands that I am passionate about. Instead of working in an office I now consult virtually for brands and start-ups all over the country. I am uniquely situated to help these smaller players grow as I have learned how to bring value as a small business to buyers, customers and manufacturers. I believe that makers and smaller more flexible businesses are poised for future success as customers are tired of faceless corporations selling them goods. People now want a story, they want their product to be personal and they want that product to be flawless. I am here to help you tell that story and make sure the product you bring to market is in line with your personal values and quality standards.