Raleigh designer's business inspired by a gift for granny

CorrespondentJuly 10, 2013 

Raleigh handbag designer Erin Corson is as surprised as anyone that a gift for her grandmother’s birthday eventually led to her own business.

Corson wanted to make a clutch handbag, but couldn’t find the right fabric to fit her granny’s style.

“After searching around for a few days, I came across a beautiful 1930s silk vintage kimono,” she says. “It was coral, one of her favorite colors, and perfect since she had decorated her home with a strong Asian influence.”

The handbag was a hit. After collecting compliments from family and friends, Corson decided to make more purses using vintage kimono fabric, and Kaleidoscope by Erin was born.

Corson uses a variety of vintage kimono fabrics, ranging from delicate floral prints to vibrant geometric patterns.

“My fabrics date back as far as the late 1800s up to 1980s,” she says. “And all of my kimono fabric comes from a family business in Japan, located in a town that once was a major manufacturer of kimonos.”

While it would have been easier to create her bags with a more conventional fabric, Corson says it’s worth the trouble to see the colorful designs find new life.

“Now, after more than three years making them, I have perfected the search for just the right-sized design on the best conditioned vintage kimono fabric,” she says. “The feedback I received made my fabric choice easy.”

Corson started with an Etsy shop (, and her bags, mostly priced in the $65 range, were recently picked up by Tickled Pink boutique in Wrightsville Beach. She’ll also be at the Lazy Daze festival in Cary on August 24.

Uniquities Remodels

Uniquities in Cameron Village reopens Thursday after a weeks-long remodel. The refreshed store will have a new look and a reconfigured space to give more room for expanded premium denim offerings. Uniquities is at 450 Daniels St., Raleigh, 919-832-1234.

Grand opening event

Apricot Lane boutique celebrates their new location in the Streets at Southpoint with a grand opening party on Saturday. The festivities begin at noon and culminate with a fashion show at 7:15 p.m. featuring Models for Charity, a local modeling troupe that works to support local charities through modeling. During the event, Apricot Lane will donate 15 percent of sales to Transforming Hope, a Durham-based nonprofit that works to transform the lives of human trafficking victims. The store will also collect donations of toiletries, cleaning supplies and other similar items for the Transforming Hope safe house. For more information, visit

Book signing

Cary-based author Lisa Springsteel will discuss and sign her new book, “Becoming a Fashion Designer,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble in Cary. A 20-year fashion industry veteran, Springsteel worked for Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren and also has covered New York Fashion Week for various publications. Springsteel’s book offers advice, sample sketches, interviews with fashion professionals and other educational information. For more info about the signing, call 919-467-3866.

Sidewalk Sale

Shoppers can enjoy big savings on clothing, handbags, shoes and more this weekend at Cameron Village’s annual Sidewalk Sale, July 12-14. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday, shoppers can save at stores such as Charlotte’s, the Bargain Box, Great Outdoor Provision Co. and more. For details, visit

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service