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  • Lisa Rose Hook

Sue Fuller

With a company mantra like “Open-mindedness is the new black,” you might expect something a little extraordinary.

Energy and enthusiasm exude from Birmingham entrepreneur Sue Fuller when she shares about her casual, yet stylish brand of functional handbags and accessories named after her beloved shitzu, Oliver Thomas.

The bags were designed with today’s modern, hard working, multi-tasking woman in mind. While they are not meant to be a status symbol, they could become one in spite of their best marketing efforts.

The Oliver Thomas line became virtually viral a day prior to its official launch, with Fuller blown away by the insta-fame. Yet with closer inspection, the secret to her success is hardly a whim – she is a retail veteran with 25 years of merchandising and management experience under her belt.

Her experience at Vera Bradley, Carhartt, Ralph Lauren and other top retailers prepared Fuller for her future.

“People live today in a much more casual way, and I saw the fashion industry starting to take itself a little too seriously,” she shared.

Another company slogan, “Our bags carry stuff. Not self worth.” Good stuff.

“Women are walking around with multiple bags, all really heavy … I wanted to build a bag with multifunctional qualities,” shares Fuller.

And that she did.

Fuller’s crossbody bags, backpacks, totes showcase craftsmanship and attention to detail, with beautifully hand-stitched quilting and sturdy, yet stylish hardware that will withstand the wash.

Taking note of the travel trend, Fuller says she wanted to create something both modern and functional for the on-the-go lifestyle.

“If I can be a small part of making their lives a little more organized, that’s great,” she says.

With names like the “Wanderlust Weekender Duffle” and “Wingwoman Tote,” it’s clear these casual, yet trend-conscious pieces were designed for adventure.

Each duffle, crossbody and tote is water resistant and machine washable. An added bonus for those who travel frequently, anything with a pocket, including totes and small cross body bags, are equipped with RFID blocking technology, which helps to protect your identity from airport scanner scams.

So why all the buzz? Nylon is nothing new; the unique aspect lies within the design. From classic black or navy with 18 kt gold crown and hardware, accents to blue or green cami prints, Oliver Thomas products aren’t your mama’s frumpy Le Sport Sac. You can even customize your bag with badges that add whimsy to the mix.

There’s a limited edition graffiti line, too.

“We think it’s a fun vibe, and we offer 20 different personalized badges – you just adhere them with a hair dryer – it’s something simple to make it your own,” explains Fuller.

What’s in store for Sue Fuller and her “co-founder,” Oliver Thomas (who even has his own business card and LinkedIn account)?

Fuller envisions a pet product line down the road to pay homage to Oliver Thomas.

Currently, the company is shipping to boutiques in 14 different states in close to 100 different boutiques. Locally, you can find them at Lori Karbal in Birmingham and Scarborough Square in Rochester, with more locations being added daily as she canvasses local boutiques.

“That’s what I love about the brand … we made it for independent business owners and boutiques and a lot of them are female owners too, which is very important to me,” shares Fuller.

Photo: Laurie Tennent

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