Photography by Jessica Turner

Handbag designer Aimee Bruyninckx is fascinated with fabric of all materials. It’s been 18 years since she got her start making handbags, from concept design to product development. After dedicating her time and skill to different handbag and accessory companies, she decided to start her own business, Bag Pop.

By December 2018, she was on her way to creating a sustainable product inspired by factories and sewing rooms she’d visited here and abroad. The environment she wanted to create was one with good working conditions and reasonable hours for employees. At the same time, Bruyninckx envisioned Bag Pop as a company that gives back to the community, so she employed refugee women at Vickery Trading Company.  

Are you from Lake Highlands?

No, I actually grew up in Lubbock and moved to Dallas right after college. I have been in Lake Highlands since 2012.

Where did your design career start?

I had an internship in New York for a denim company, but my first real job after college was at Fossil in 2004. I started there as an assistant designer working on fabric and leather handbags and really loved 3D design and working with such a variety of materials. I especially loved the community of people who I worked with there and working with the factories. It was such an amazing entry into the design world. I’m really grateful for that initial experience, the people and it being so positive.

How would you describe life as a designer? 

I have had a really positive experience here juggling between full-time and freelance over the past several years. I’m so thankful for a broad range of design experience from graphic design to men’s and women’s design.

What inspired you to create Bag Pop?

I had learned a little bit about the refugee community here in Dallas through church and friends who volunteer in the Vickery area. I’m sure many remember J. Crew telling Gaia’s story and selling their bags; it was incredible. I had already been thinking about starting something similar. And that was so inspiring to me that J. Crew shared their story of refugee women here in Dallas making bags. I learned of a few sewing rooms and decided to start Bag Pop while freelancing in 2018. There were other brands introducing refugee-made products, and it was so inspiring to see. A good friend connected me with a few of the sewing rooms, and we started with a few simply constructed fabric bags. I quickly got to know the women and really have loved working with them.

How did you find refugee women in Vickery Meadow?

A very good friend of mine connected me with Vickery Trading. I immediately met the women there and loved them and their programming. What they offer for the men, women and families relocating to Dallas is incredible. They are reading books with them, teaching everyone about driving, and they are learning all sorts of American skills. Sewing is only a part of it. They are taking them in and taking care of the families. From there, I started working with women in their homes who needed to be home working with children or while going to school. 

Are you taking a break from Bag Pop?

Bag Pop has for sure been running slower for a short time, as I started back at Fossil on the Women’s Leathers team this past summer. We are still filling Bag Pop orders and also planning on some fun things for the holidays.

What were some challenges you faced when you started Bag Pop?

I really struggled with pricing initially but finally found a good spot after trial and error.

What qualities make a good bag?

Beautiful, thoughtful materials are so important. I also love an interesting construction.

How long is the process of completing a bag from concept to final product?

It depends — the simple styles started in pattern form and after a few months, rounds of samples were ready. More complicated pieces can take longer to get materials and construction down.

What advice would you give to young aspiring designers?

Be positive, and keep your personal goals in mind. We are not all on the same path. We have very different skills and talents and don’t need to be compared. It’s so important to keep this in mind and to be very persistent in sticking with your goals.

How do you give back to our community?

Through Bag Pop, we give a portion of all sales back to two really amazing organizations: Mommies In Need and Young Lives. I love both these organizations and the support and love they provide for families and especially women.

How did the pandemic affect the flow of your work?

My freelance for sure slowed down as retail struggled so much, but Bag Pop picked up which was so exciting. Neighborhood friends, my community and my family were so supportive through that time. People who love supporting the refugee community, love the way the bags are made, keep buying gifts, asking about what’s new and what’s next, and I so much appreciate that.

How would you describe your work-life-family balance?

It’s busy but so full, and I am so thankful. We have three sweet kids ages 12, 9 and 7, so the work-life balance is for sure a juggle. My family is a big priority for me, and I know they need to see the value of hard work and being engaged while having fun in what they do.

Who serves as your inspiration?

I have watched many people and leaders treat others in kind, encouraging and caring ways, and I love that. People that serve others, help to take care of others and have a larger perspective on life and everything is so inspirational for me. People that give others a boost, I love that and hope to do the same.

Walk me through your typical day.

Our mornings are usually pretty wild and quick getting three kids ready and to school. Then head to work after that. Lately we are working on fall 2022 development: looking at sketches, color, reviewing samples and commenting on them is very common in my day to day. Lots of creativity but also plenty of things that just have to be done. After work, we’re back to kids’ activities or maybe dinner with friends. We do lots of taxiing kids to events right now in the evenings.

Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.