Thursday, June 16, 2011

#43. Buy Something Vera Bradley

Quilting has historically been a popular pastime for Hoosier women. As someone who grew up visiting church bazaars, county fairs, garage sales, and antique stores, quilts are nothing novel to me. My bed and linen closet are filled with quilts made by great grandmothers and other elderly progenitors. Like many hobbies of yore, quilting is not as common among the younger generation. Maybe this is because now we have Hulu and Facebook to fill our time (stereotypical, but not that far off). Whatever the reason, quilting has been on the decline.

Quilting stereotype: Amish grandmothers

That is, until the creation of Vera Bradley. Two friends from Indiana decided to fill the void of "feminine-looking" luggage by crafting quilted cotton luggage, handbags, and accessories. These two women did the impossible. They turned a small time business venture in Fort Wayne, IN into a hugely successful national business.

But more impressively, they made quilting cool. Walking through the halls of my Catholic high school, one would think that the colorfully patterned quilted bags were added to the uniform code; Vera Bradley bags were almost as common as the plaid skirts.

Despite the bags' popularity, I never felt compelled to purchase anything Vera Bradley. I rarely carry handbags and when I do, they are simple leather castoffs from my mom or garage sales--I am really cheap and I like pockets. So when I saw this item on the list of 50 things to do, I was doubtful that I would actually complete it. However, thanks to my wonderful neighbors' graduation gift, I can cross it off the list.

I live in one of those idyllic neighborhoods where the lawns sprawl and the neighbors are friends and practically family. So for my graduation, my neighbors were extremely generous. Not only did they provide endless assistance during my open house, but they gave me incredible gifts. Three of my craftier neighbors coordinated their gifts. They each bought me separate Vera Bradley bags in the same Very Berry pattern. I am now the lucky owner of matching zip ID holder, sunglass case, tote, and duffle bag.

Please excuse the jaundiced Ebay-esque picture
My neighbors did more than give me cute, useful presents; they saved me some money for completing this post. So thank you Kaaren, Andrea, and Shelly for your wonderful gifts and reminding me of one more reason to love Indiana.

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