The Story Exchange, Jennifer Paige Boonlorn, Soul Carrier TMYour Name: Jennifer Paige Boonlorn

Business Name: Soul Carrier TM, a maker of handbags and accessories for travel

Type of Business: Clothing & Accessories

Business Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Twitter   @soulcarrierbags

Reason for starting
I was created to create. And this desire to create and design has trumped any other mission in life. Soul Carrier is the derivative of me wanting to share this part of my creative soul. I spent four years in NYC — graduating from Parsons with a fashion degree and working in the fashion industry. It was all very magical, however, once my niece was born, I decided to return home to Phoenix, Arizona. That same summer, I was part of an art project called “The Mannequin Is Our Muse”. Phoenicians were asked to create art out of a mannequin, which was then on display at Scottsdale Fashion Square during the week of the Barneys grand opening. I collaborated with a friend, and our mannequin became the inspiration behind Soul Carrier. The mannequin was covered in mats made from recycled material and this material became the base of the Soul Carrier collection. Product development was always my dream job, so I decided to go for it and begin developing my own products.

How do you define success?
Success is when you are in alignment with your soul. To have courage to be vulnerable enough to be 100% who are at your core, is the ultimate success to me. Everything else flows forth from that. To be able to infuse soul into everything I do, means going for my dreams because I believe in them, but then detaching from the world’s definition of success. Monetary rewards and recognition will follow when you are truly passionate. Getting to create, because that is what I love, is the greatest success I could achieve for myself.

Biggest Success
Learning to tune out the white noise and naysayers and find inner peace and purpose. No matter what happens I am a success for following through on what I set out to do – be an innovator and create. But from an accolades point of view, biggest successes might include: being asked to join the WWD Magic Tradeshow as one of the Emerging Designers, having the executive producer of Gossip Girl call me to say she loved the box of Soul Carrier bags she had just received and personally inviting me to their set, having my designs featured in Henri Bendel’s Fifth Ave window, and very importantly attracting a solid team of rockstars who believe in what I am doing and want to be part of my vision and journey.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Production! I went through several production houses before meeting Jane Spicer of Daphne’s Headcovers at a business luncheon hosted by Arizona State University where she was being awarded the Spirit of Enterprise Award. I reached out to her and she instantly became a mentor. I have now hired refugee ladies I found through Lutheran Relief Services, and Jane is very graciously letting the refugees use her commercial sewing machines to sew up the bags. My other challenge was taking time to do social media marketing. I have brought on several Arizona State University students to help me with this. They are phenomenal students. I love their energy and excitment. They inspire me to want to be able to build a company that could one day bring them on as full time employees.

Who is your most important role model?
My parents, who both passed away in a car accident were tremendous role models. They taught me perseverance, and that love is a very powerful action. Jane Spicer is my current role model, her wisdom and knowledge are worth gold! Heather Maclean, a big real estate agent, has always been a role model to me. Her poise, grace and business savvy are something I try and emulate.