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A Caricature is Worth 1,000 Threads

Lyn Marsteller's Mother

This image of my mother was created at a party in the late 1950s. The hosts supplied various media and scrap paper (this piece of paper has notes from a garden club meeting on the other side). Painted in watercolors and crayon, my mother placed it in the discard pile when downsizing to move to a condo.

I “saved” this image, framed it and hung it over my sewing desk, where she has kept an amused and stylish eye on my miles and miles of stitches in both clothing and in creating the prototypes of the Purse Perfector. It was my mother and her mother who taught me to sew at age 5 and sewing has remained an art, a passion, and a fascination for me for decades.

In fact, it is because of my mother’s instruction and encouragement of my sewing that led to the creation of the Purse Perfector. Sewing had allowed me to create new clothes on my modest salary as a nonprofit development professional for decades, striving to apply the couture techniques I admired in designer clothing but could not afford.

When I made the first dozen prototypes of the Purse Perfector as a solution to the un-managed mess in every handbag I used while traveling in Europe in September 2001, my mother was eager to see my hand-tailored solution to purse organization, whether for use as a travel purse organizer or as a daily purse organizer in women’s handbags nationwide.

As one of my biggest cheerleaders for the success of Purse Perfector, she was thrilled when I received the utility patent for my invention (her father was an attorney, as is my husband). Unfortunately, my quest for an American manufacturer to produce my handbag organizer was not successful until two years after her death.

In 2009, my friend and sewing teacher Sandra Betzina, introduced me to a San Francisco-based manufacturer and within months, hundreds of friends, relatives and strangers were using this American-made purse organizer on a daily basis.

I’d have to say that a thread – a theme – runs through my life. My grandmother taught my mother to sew and they both taught me to sew, encouraging me to learn more. In turn, I met Sandra and continued to my interest in molding cloth and stitches into garments and ultimately, to construct the Purse Perfector.

My mother’s smiling image near my sewing machine always reminds me that it all starts with one stitch. And I’m grateful to have had those hands help guide my stitches.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cheers,

Lyn

 

 

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Spring Cleaning for Your Purse

Large Black with Silver Purse Organizer

Spring has finally sprung and the world takes a collective sigh as the final traces of winter begin to fade. Most of us are opening the windows, turning on our Spotify, and getting to work on some household spring cleaning. However, if you’re not quite ready for that (the warm weather hasn’t fully set in yet), we recommend you begin spring cleaning and organizing something you use every day: your purse!

In today’s busy world, we too often use our handbags as a catch-all collecting candy wrappers, unneeded receipts, and loose change. If your bag could use some spring cleaning TLC, here are six steps to help you rejuvenate your organization:

1. Start with a clean slate.

We recommend starting by emptying your entire bag. Take everything out, shake out loose crumbs, change, and wrappers over the garbage can, not forgetting to open and unzip all compartments! Next, take a damp cloth and wipe out the interior and exterior of your bag. If you have some fabric refresher, give it a light spray – Chanel No. 5 works great, too! Hopefully during this process, you’ll find that ring you thought you lost or even a surprise $20!

2. Consider your handbag options.

Is the bag you’re cleaning out too worn to use anymore? Does it need repaired or dry cleaned? Is it out of season and not following current colors or trends? Is it time to retire this bag and get something new? These are all things to consider when you’ve emptied out the contents and wiped it down. Spring is a great time to revamp your wardrobe, so it might be time to treat yourself to a new bag, maybe even that Birkin you’ve had your eye on – alright, that’s a bit of a stretch and a dream for most of the world, but you get the point.

3. Sort it out.

Once you have emptied out your bag and selected which handbag you are going to use, it’s time to begin organizing! Sort your items into piles:

  • Use every day: i.e. credit cards, wallet, lipstick, parking pass
  • Use once a week/month: i.e. car wash tickets, store loyalty cards, friend’s spare key
  • Never use: old grocery lists, spare diaper that has been outgrown, children’s socks

Out of your piles, what can you throw away, store elsewhere, or use in your everyday handbag?

4. De-winterize your purse.

Now that winter is over (hooray!), what can you take out of your purse and store? We’re talking cold medicine, hats and gloves, hot hands – you name it! Once you have purged your winter supplies away, begin thinking about what you will need for spring. Right off the bat, we recommend sunscreen and a new stock of tissues and Allegra for allergy season.

5. Change up your makeup.

Not only do we change our accessories and wardrobes for spring, but we also change up our makeup. Time to shelve those dark, gloomy colors and buy some new, bright ones for spring! To see the hottest color trends for spring, check out Pantone’s Spring 2015 Color Lineup – we especially love the color of the year, Marsala!

Once you’ve decided what to do away with for spring, decide what needs to be thrown out due to out-of-season colors or damage. By the time you’ll need it for the next season, it will more than likely be expired anyway.

6. Invest in a Purse Perfector.

Even the most organized of people find they can get disorganized at times. Let a Purse Perfector help keep your handbag organized at all times! We have several colors and sizes to choose from. Check out our shopping page to see which one is right for you!

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Purse Perfector is a Labor of Love

 

2014-laborKids of all ages are heading back to school. Notebooks, folders, books and organizers are all being checked off of shopping lists. Maybe today is your day to “head back to school” and put some organization into your own life as well. We’d love to help you get your handbag organized.

As the creator of Purse Perfector, I can share with you that from the first pattern and prototype to the product we now offer, this has been a labor of love for me. I wanted the Purse Perfector to not only be useful and functional, but well-constructed and made to last.

Using the Purse Perfector not only means you can find things quickly in your handbag, but that you can switch your handbag quickly and easily. If you still follow the rule to switch out your handbag after Labor Day, then you’ll love having your own Purse Pefector.

Through September 5, take 15% off your purchase by using code USAMADE at checkout.

Cheers, Lyn

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Make Valentine’s Day 2014 a Day to Remember All Year Long

2014 valentineIt doesn’t take a psychic for us to see roses and candy in your near future. We believe that while roses are lovely, and candy certainly is sweet, Valentine’s Day can be oh so much more.

Make it a treat you’ll enjoy year round by taking matters into your own hands. Purchase a Purse Perfector between February 7 and Valentine’s Day, and we’ll give you 25% off the list price of either a medium or large Purse Perfector. Use code VALENTINE2014 at checkout, and be mine. 

Order today.

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January is GO month: Save 30% on a Purse Perfector

GO MONTHThe National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) proclaims January as “GO” month each year. That’s “get organized” for you and me. Sometimes the idea of getting organized can become so overwhelming that we take the high road and do nothing.  

This year, we’d like to help you get started by tackling something we believe you can simply and easily organize. It’s utterly and completely doable: your handbag. End January on a great note by not only clearing the clutter out your most used accessory, but by doing it with our help. Take 30% off our list price on both the medium and large Purse Perfectors. In addition, we’ve marked our outlet items down even more to 40% off list prices! Use code ORGANIZE2014 at checkout. If you need help getting started on how to organize your handbag, we have some posts on here that will help you: http://bit.ly/KIoA5f or http://bit.ly/1jBeTBy.

This offer runs from January 24 through January 31.

Cheers,

Lyn

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How To Lighten Your “Shoulder Boulder”

We’re reposting this blog post with permission from Janice Russell from Minding Your Matters. The post is written by Jennifer Wig Suarez, a professional organizer with Minding Your Matters. We might be a wee bit biased, but we thought this post hit the nail on the head! 

I heard on the radio recently that the average woman’s purse weighs seven pounds. Wow. That’s quite a bit of weight to lug around on your shoulder. I patted myself on the back for not often carrying a purse, something I’ve written about before.

But then I thought for a moment. What about my backpack? My green backpack is my mobile office. It contains my laptop (an older, heavier model), wallet, keys, lip balm, business cards, cell phone, laptop cord, phone charger cord, AP Stylebook, binder for notes, water bottle and more. Since I’m self-employed, I mostly work from my home office, but I often work from a client’s office or a coffee shop and that means taking it all with me.

Curious, I lugged the backpack to the scale and … 18 pounds! Sheesh. Talk about carrying some extra weight. That’s more than double the average purse! Sure, I’m carrying it on my back. And yes, it’s good exercise since I average two miles a day walking to and from meetings. But it begs the question: Do I really NEED to be carrying all that stuff around with me each day? Probably not.

As I mentioned in my previous purse entry, bags are a great place to start when getting organized, whether it’s your Coach purse or your Holly Aiken diaper tote. But how? Lighten your shoulder boulder with these simple steps:

Step 1: Prepare. Set aside some time and have a trash can handy. Then, take everything out of your bag and lay it on the table, counter or bed.

Step 2: Examine each item one by one. Ask yourself: Why is this in my purse/bag/backpack?

Step 3: Sort the items into four categories:

a. Trash/Recycle (toss in can) – Old candy, hair pins, receipts from last year, lint, anything crumpled or sticky, business cards you will never use, etc.

b. Move to New Location – The second hairbrush and mirror, makeup you grabbed for just one night that needs to go back to the bathroom, the three extra pens, massive bottle of sunscreen and anything else that doesn’t belong.

c. Stay in Purse – Items you actually use daily when you’re out and about e.g. wallet, phone, keys. Stop and consider each item before putting it in this pile. When was the last time you used that hand sanitizer? Do you really need to carry a pair of earbuds and a book?

d. Take Action – Items that need to leave the purse but can’t go “home” because they require you to do something. These might be business cards you need to copy down the info into your smartphone, or receipts for purchases you need to write in your checkbook register, the CD someone gave you to listen to, etc.

Step 4: Organize the purse. If you switch purses every day, consider a Purse Perfector or similar product. This enables you to keep all your purse items organized in one cloth “container” that inserts into your purse. You can remove the whole thing and place it inside a different bag.

If you generally use just one purse/bag, examine it. Are there extra pockets on the inside or outside? Which of your items would fit best there? Which items do you most frequently need? What items are you digging around for like a demented Mary Poppins, swearing and frustrated by the black hole that is your purse? Put those in a special pocket and make that the item’s “home.” Always put that item there and return it there each time. This might be sunglasses or keys or something small such as lip balm.

Step 5: Cleanup. Now toss out pile A, relocate the items in pile B to their proper place and take action on pile D. If you can’t take action on those items now, make sure to put them somewhere handy.

Other Tips:

  • If not all your items fit, go back to step 3c and reconsider what you’re carrying. If you must carry those items, consider a bag with a different shape or more pockets instead of just a larger bag. Large bags create black holes.
  • Think about where you leave your bag. Studies show that as woman leave their bags on bathroom stall floors and everywhere else, they collect a revolting amount of bacteria. Seriously. Fecal matter, vomit, E. coli and all sorts of gross stuff were found on handbags studied in a report by CBS. Gross. Hang your purse/bag on the table with a table hook (easily found online) or on the stall door hook.

Jennifer Wig joined Minding Your Matters in 2010. She has spent nine years working for news media organizations, including newspapers and most recently at NBC17 TV news, where she produced both broadcast and web news. In her years with news, Jennifer learned a wide range of skills from writing, editing, project and time management and meeting deadlines. Her most recent job duties included coordinating multiple reporters, video editors, anchors and others to compile the daily 6 p.m. news.

Jennifer is a 2003 graduate of Southern Illinois University, where she earned a B.S. in Print Journalism. She is also a 2004 graduate of the University of Illinois, where she earned an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting. She is a member of the the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Jennifer has earned her Level I Certificates of Study in Chronic Disorganization and Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorganizer and her Level II Chronic Disorganization Specialist Certificate from the ICD.

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Purse Perfector profile in Cincinnati Business Courier

As my recent blog entry described, the last year has been a great education for me in getting the Purse Perfector out of my sewing room and into your purses and handbags. But a recent interview with Lucy May of the Cincinnati Business Courier, helped expand on those thoughts.

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What I’ve learned in the past year

It’s been a fast, full year.

It started when my sewing teacher Sandra Betzina, introduced me to Seymour Jaron in San Francisco in March 2009. Seymour showed me that he could hand-tailor the Purse Perfector in America, my dream since 2001. I thought that my path would be clear, but I had so much to learn.

As a life-long sewer (and fabricaholic), I knew the type of durable, washable fabric I needed for the Purse Perfectors. Seymour helped me find a good manufacturer. Then came decisions on zippers and embroidery colors. How many units, which colors, what’s the best delivery system?

But learning how to build an online web-store was the most daunting task. What is SEO? Where do you get an SSL and why? That was just the beginning. And it doesn’t end once you go live. It’s been about 370 days since the website went up. There have been so many changes that it would be impossible to count them. But now I know what to ask for and perhaps how to shorten the learning curve. If only there was a comic book primer for entrepreneurs whose skills lie elsewhere.

Last year I didn’t know what NAPO was. Now I’m a huge fan and an associate member. Janine Sarna-Jones, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), referred one of her NYC clients to my website. That sale led me to joining NAPO and attending their annual conference in Columbus, Ohio – only 2 hours away!

Working with NAPO members across the country has been a terrific experience. They have enthusiastically shared Purse Perfectors with their clients nationwide. I’ll be attending the NAPO San Francisco Bay area One Day conference in October and look forward to being with the thoughtful and energetic members in that great city.

The greatest education and joy I’ve had in the last year is how helpful people have been to get my sewing room creation out of my house and into your purse. Friends and mentors over the years have introduced me to others to get me to the next connection and the next. I am very blessed with the many people have led me to this day.

The power of women’s friendship is also part of what I’ve been able to witness this year. One example: a neighbor bought Purse Perfectors as gifts for her sisters. Her sister in Cary, North Carolina then had lunch with her friends and over 2 days, I received 5 orders from Cary. Women share the things we love and I’ve seen the power of that from Cincinnati to Cary, Billings to Annapolis, to NYC, Toronto and Milwaukee.

I’ve also updated my my geography skills: Purse Perfectors are in every state but Alaska, in many parts of Canada and in 16 other countries.

Transforming women’s lives, one purse at a time.

I don’t know what the next year will bring, but if it’s anything like the last year, I’ll welcome it with open arms. I just may try to sleep, exercise and sew a little more.

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Have it All at Your Fingertips, Everywhere You Go

When the Purse Perfector is already part of your daily purse routine, you know where your normal crucial companions like your wallet, sunglasses and lipLarge Black with Silver Purse Perfector insert gloss are located.  Without switching anything, you can easily slide your passport into the middle compartment and your hotel key card into the back outside pocket for easy access.  During the travel itself here are 5 tips to simplify travel stress by using your Purse Perfector:

  1. Load your Purse Perfector with your daily essentials and return those items to the same place each time.  It makes finding your items by touch so much faster.
  2. While traveling, “zone” your liquids (lip gloss, hand sanitizer, etc.) in the same area so you can remove quickly and easily to go through airline security areas.
  3. Use the back pocket for your hotel key card.  With your phone in the shorter section, your phone won’t demagnetize your hotel key card and you can slip your key card out effortlessly to get into your room.
  4. Unzip 2 sides of the Purse Perfector and slide it into the front pocket of your rolling travel tote.  Remove the liquids for airline travel and roll onto the plane without juggling a purse too.  Pack an unstructured purse into your rolling tote and you will be ready to “reload” your purse when you reach your destination.
  5. For an active vacation, be sure to add small containers of first aid cream, band-aids, analgesics, or other medications into the shorter section.

Of course we can’t guarantee you’ll remember to pack your toothbrush, but at least you’ll remember your wallet to buy a new one in the airport…