Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College
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December graduate finds passion in handbags

January 27, 2014

By Amber Surdam/Stephens College Senior

During an internship that transformed into a job, Ami Beck designed her first large leather handbag. A December graduate, Beck immediately started her job as an assistant designer at Sandlot Goods, a Kansas City shop specializing in handmade androgynous leather merchandise. Originally from Kansas City, the commute was easy for Beck, and she moved back to the area after graduation.

After discovering Sandlot Goods through a former friend and the internet, Beck decided to reach out to the owner of Sandlot Goods through Facebook. They met the next day, and she got the internship. Beck had a previous internship with Maurices, but nothing had prepared her for the encounter with leather. At first, Beck helped create and design products; however, once she had enough confidence and knowledge, she decided she was ready to try and create her first masterpiece. She discovered working with leather was hard, but she found a process. She used Pinterest and Google to look up photos of bags for inspiration; then she began sketching. Her designs were complicated, and in the end, she learned finding the right design could take several attempts.

Beck used leather, denim, ecot fabric and twill. After much contemplation, she wanted her work to be classy, durable and simple. With a lot of trial and error, Beck hand sewed most of her work and used a machine for the rest. Working with leather was hard, she said, but it was also flexible and beautiful.

When Beck was a child, she was the only member in her family who cared about fashion, making her stick out. Fashion came easy to her, and she had fun. She wanted to pursue a degree in fashion; however, her family had a hard time taking her dream seriously. Her dad wanted her to go to law or med school, so Beck felt fashion was not an option. After four years at Northwest Missouri State, Beck graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She worked at Truman Medical Center as a legal assistant for two years.

Dissatisfied with her career, she still wanted to be a designer. Through Google, Beck happened upon Stephens College. After being accepted, she started as a fashion design major and then later changed to a new major called apparel studies. Beck decided that she would create her own purses, since she always felt dissatisfied with store-bought purses.

Working for Sandlot Goods has helped Beck define her goals. She wants to create purses for both men and women, though she focuses on an androgynous style. Beck thought about moving to New York City but decided to remain in Kansas City. In the next 10 years, she hopes to start her own line of purses.

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