"Life is short. Buy the bag."
That's Tone Bekka's mantra, and it's not a tough to get on board with once you see their locally-sourced, handmade, fashion-forward designs that also give back.
Tone Bekka is a luxury handbag brand that was launched in 2014 by Jovanna Robinson, who was inspired to launch her brand after a class project.
"After making a handbag for a class project and falling in love with working with leather I just decided to make bags that I love," says Robinson. "I love bags and having all kinds of bags from cosmetic cases to weekenders and everything in between."
All of the bags from Tone Bekka are made out of leather, from cow hide to calf hair and embossed ostrich and croc.
"My designs are one of a kind and I don’t produce too many of the same style and color," she says. "I have flagship bags but I create different leather colors and skins from year to year."
In the years since she’s launched her business, Robinson says that she went from a handbag brand to a women and men’s travel bag and accessory brand.
"I expected it to grow but I thought I was going to stick to just handbags," she adds.
All of the products offered from Tone Bekka feature leather that she gets from her home city of Columbus, as well as hardware that comes from sources across Ohio.
When you shop Tone Bekka, you’ll find handmade leather travel bags and accessories including wallets, passports, cosmetic pouches, wristlets, totes, duffels, and backpacks. Currently, she says, her favorite product she creates is the Croc Ruck backpack.
"I just love that design every time I make that backpack," she says. "It just has a very rich and classy style and look to it."
In a time when we all had to learn to adapt, Tone Bekka was no exception. When the pandemic shut down most of our daily lives, she was no longer able to go to markets and events, which drove most of her revenue.
"I have had to put more into my online sales and focus there," she says. "I also started making masks to help protect people during this pandemic and to coincide with my love for bags I started creating mask and clutch sets made of African Ankara fabric and leather."
When she created the matching mask and clutch sets, they were a hit.
Robinson says that she was inspired to create the sets when she saw people matching their clothes and headwraps. It was then that she got the idea to go back to her love of making bags and matching sets.
"I found a great authentic African Ankara fabric connection and just made two fabric print options and started advertising them," she says. "People really loved them because they were fun and new and the fabric is so beautiful."
The world’s social justice landscape surrounding racism and inequality has also been drastically changed in the last year with the onset of unjustifiable acts against Breyonna Taylor and George Floyd, and Robinson knew she couldn’t stand by and do nothing.
"I wanted to use my gift to give back," she says. "So while it’s nice to create something people like, it feels wrong while so many of us are hurting and feel like living targets so I wanted to help by establishing the Clutch For Justice sets."
Every purchase of these sets means a donation to the families affected by systemic racism every month.
With a new year ahead of her, Robinson says that she plans to continue to focus on growing her bag brand. "I no longer make the masks and mask sets, however I still offer the clutch and crossbody bags in the African Ankara prints," she adds. "I plan to offer more bags and accessories in fun colors. I have alway solved fashion and I want my bags to continue to turn heads. They are more than just an object that holds your belongings but a fashion statement for all those who love not just a great bag, but also love to step out in style."