mulberry outlet Southtown StarIf “diamonds

Southtown Star

If “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” handbags are perhaps a mulberry outlet woman’s most trusted sidekick.

But for Tinley Park resident Karla Staley, they’re more than just tried and true stylish accessories. They’re an obsession.

For the past 10 years, Staley has fashioned a variety of handcrafted purses that she’s created out of books, magazines, playbills, board games and record sleeves. It’s a hobby that’s blossomed into a business for mulberry outlet the Bagitude! Handbags With Attitude Inc. founder, who designs funky bags with the look of popular books and famous album covers.

“I love it,” Staley said. “It’s true that when you really enjoy what you do, you just do it. And you don’t think, ‘Wow, I’ve worked 80 hours this week.’ You don’t look at it like that.”

Bagitude began a decade ago with Staley making purses out of old cigar boxes. She quickly transitioned to other base materials when she learned that children couldn’t carry cigar box purses to school. The change saw Staley begin to make replica bags from Harry Potter book covers, Beatles record covers, Monopoly board games, crossword puzzles and other noteworthy pop culture staples.

The Chicago Heights native began her love affair with the arts as a child, saving cereal boxes and building dollhouses out of them. A mother of three, Staley kept her imaginative spirit alive making clothes for her family.

Her adventure with Bagitude initially started off as just a hobby, with Staley making the bags on the side through the first five years while holding down a job as an insurance agent. But as business picked up, she was able to quit that job and devote her focus to her offbeat creations.

“I’ve always been crafty,” she said. “It was always a hobby, always secondary to a full time job. This is the first time it’s ever been full time, all consuming.”

Staley’s created bags from the Bears’ famous Super Bowl Shuf mulberry outlet fle record sleeve, old Marshall Field’s shopping bags and Time magazine’s 2008 “Person of the Year” cover featuring a color coded picture of then President elect Barack Obama.

Her Harry Potter inspired bags were sold at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in 2009.

“With the whole purse craze 10 years ago, they were turning everything into purses,” Staley said. “Then with the cigar boxes, it was like, ‘Wow, this would make a cool purse.’ So it was recycling and a love for purses that brought me to do what I’m doing.”

Staley’s purses from playbills have made Bagitude a big hit in the theater scene. She’s crafted a bag for the title character of the Broadway play “Mary Poppins,” as well as performers in other musicals such as “Mama Mia” and “Billy Elliot.”

Last year, an actor saw Staley’s bags at an art show in Minnesota and asked her to make opening night gifts for the entire cast of “Scottsboro Boys.”

Staley estimated that she made about 1,000 bags in 2010 and that she attends between 15 and 20 art shows around the country each year. She said that her Bagitude bags take an average of about two hours to create. Staley runs the operation alone out of her home and said that the demand for her purses has outpaced her production capabilities.

“It’s a lot of work, so if you don’t like what you do, it can be tough,” Staley said.

It is on the road at weekend fine art festivals where Sta mulberry outlet ley meets many of her customers. So far this year, she’s been to Georgia, Maryland, New York, California, Arizona and Texas.

Staley recently started making wedding purses and moved into custom designs, carving bags out of photos, records and other materials that people have sent her. She’s brainstorming plans to make bags for men and to begin crafting file bins.

The bags range in price from $62 to $68.

“It just rekindles memories,” Staley said of the purses. “People see (them), and it just touches them in a way where it brings smiles and great stories. So it’s always positive.”