I have been a fan of Vera Bradley as long as I can remember! The company is headquartered in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and even though it has expanded its consumer base and manufacturing operations far beyond our borders, there is still a lot of Hoosier pride in this quilted bag designer.
The company got its start in 1982, when its co-founders Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller noticed a lack of feminine luggage styles while waiting in an airport. Once they returned home, they quickly got to work, and as you can probably guess, their new venture, which they named after Barbara’s mother, was an instant success!
Almost thirty years after its inception, in October 2010, the company went public with its stock, with an initial offering of eleven million shares. Investors can now purchase “VRA” on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, a further testimony to the phenomenal growth of this company.
Signature Quilted Patterns
Of course, you can’t talk about Vera Bradley without talking about their signature handbag patterns. These colorful, quilted designs have made this company a household name. Even though their bags are affordably priced, the quality of the fabrics as well as the trims, such as snaps and zippers, are outstanding. Many of the signature styles are also machine washable, which makes it easy to keep them looking their best.
Although not all patterns appeal to everyone, there is a lot of variety. In fact, they usually release twelve new signature patterns every year (four every season), and for most, it’s not too hard to find a style that matches your personal tastes. Once you do find a pattern that you like, you are not limited to purses and totes in that color. You can also purchase matching accessories, including a wide variety of wallet styles, cosmetic cases, laptop and tech cases, backpacks and lunch bags, and even luggage, stationary, flip flops, and sunglasses.
Specialty Collections: Frill, Microfiber, and More
In addition to their popular quilted signature styles, Vera Bradley also offers their specialty lines, including their Frill and microfiber collections. The microfiber bags are usually available in the fall and winter months, with attractive purses and accessories in black, brown, navy, and plum fabrics. The Frill collection borrows the prints from the signature bags, but the styles are more youthful.
Annual Outlet Sale
Vera Bradley is still very much involved in the Fort Wayne community. For example, every spring, we are happy to welcome thousands to our city, at the annual outlet sale, which brings in guests from all fifty states and several countries, with attendance usually hitting sixty thousand over the course of the five day event.
Mark your calendars for the next sale, which is scheduled for April 10-13, 2013, and will be held at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. It’s a fun event, and the deals are unbeatable! Most of the styles are marked at least 40% off, and many times, further markdowns are made during the course of the sale.
Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer
The Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the company, works to fight breast cancer by funding research and awareness campaigns. Every year, 10% of the proceeds from the sale of one of their patterns is donated to the Foundation. The current Foundation print is Tea Garden, which is a pretty pink and grey pattern.
There are also several great community fund raisers. My personal favorite is the “Turn the Town Pink” campaign. During this event, the trees in the downtown Fort Wayne area are wrapped in big pink bows. The bows bear the names of those affected by breast cancer. Tennis and golfing tournaments, as well as free concerts and other activities, are part of the campaign, which usually last a couple of weeks.
Beyond Vera Bradley
Although Vera Bradley is the main focus of this site, you will also see reviews of other designers, such as Stephanie Dawn, Petunia Pickle Bottom, and even Etsy ventures!