A Louisiana line of woven handbags is getting national attention

The Lilley Line began with a gift from a friend and soon became a mission to help working women in El Salvador. Founder and CEO Stephanie Lilley, a New Orleans native, has steadily grown the handbag collection into a booming business, and people around the country have taken notice.

The business started when Lilley was gifted a bag from friend and El Salvador native Guadalupe Lopez. Not only did she receive compliments from nearly everyone she encountered while carrying it, but she found herself bringing it everywhere. She realized the strong aesthetic and purposeful appeal the bag had, along with the opportunity to help the women crafting them.

The business began to fall into place. Lilley’s vision for a collection of vibrant and modern bags that retain the benefits of the traditional Central American basket came to fruition with the launch of The Lilley Line in 2019. Since then, the brand has grown while continuing to empower the women carrying and crafting the bags.

The Lilley Line clutch topped the 2023 Mother’s Day edition of Oprah’s List as the No. 1 gift choice, and Tommy Bahama stores recently began carrying the line. Amid the growing demand, the focus remains on the women who are crafting each of the brand’s bags.

The artisans in El Salvador learn the art of hand-weaving from older women in their families and communities, starting from a young age. By partnering with The Lilley Line, many of the women have started micro-businesses that help support their families while allowing them to work from the safety of their homes, equipping them with a sense of security and independence.


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Collette Bruce, the brand’s Baton Rouge-born chief marketing officer, says one of the artisans who was previously living in a high-crime neighborhood run by gangs was able to purchase her own home in a safer area through her work for The Lilley Line. “It was incredible to see how this business is changing her life for the better,” Bruce says.

Those who have purchased a bag—or two or three—from The Lilley Line say the brand’s products are changing their lives for the better, too. The sturdy bags are available in a variety of sizes, from clutches to berry baskets, and are made with plastic wire similar to what is used in weed whackers meaning they are meant to last more than just one season. “It’s not a prissy bag,” Bruce explains. “They are durable enough to carry anything, while still looking chic.”

Keep up with the Louisiana-led brand on Instagram at @thelilleyline.

This story originally appeared in inRegister. To keep up with inRegistersubscribe to the free inRegister@Home e-newsletter here.