G! Style: One-of-a-Kind Designs
Jenny Dunphy Designs has passion and hard work in the bag
Photography and text by Ellen Egan
Jenny Dunphy is living proof that you really can have your dream job if you’re willing to work hard enough for it. Growing up in the small community of Morell, the 28-year-old handbag designer credits her upbringing for getting her to where she is today.
A sample of Jenny Dunphy Desgns handbags
“My father is a cabinet designer, so I was exposed to the design industry at a young age,” she says. “It really taught me to appreciate the symmetry of design and the art of making something from scratch with your hands.”
However, like most young people, Dunphy wasn’t always so sure of her career path.
“Fashion was always kind of deep down inside me. I was the kid who had fashion magazines inside her text book,” she laughs. “I was always taking my clothes and deconstructing them to be like how I envisioned it in my head.”
She tried out a few different streams before deciding to turn her passion into her job. Armed with a strong work ethic, supportive family and creative vision, Jenny enrolled at the International Academy of Design and Technology (now called Academy of Design) in Toronto, ON, at age 23. Here she gained her technical foundation and learned how to sew just about anything.
During her four year stint in Toronto, her own drive for greatness landed her internships for some of Canada’s top fashion labels. She went on to gain experience in trend forecasting, branding, and bridal accessory design. Her focus soon shifted and she decided to teach herself handbag design and manufacturing.
“Although I loved making clothes, I quickly realized that not everyone can wear the clothes you make,” says Dunphy. “A purse will fit everyone. It’s something that makes a girl feel good. I’m happy I can now do something everyone can enjoy.”
Attracted by the design freedom that comes along with owning her own business, Jenny decided to move back home in September of 2010 to pursue just that.
Now designing for her own aesthetic, she loves to mix the old with the new by blending vintage finds with new materials. Her pieces are all handmade from mostly leather, but she does keep vinyl on hand for someone who wants a vegan-friendly bag.
“I’m not competing with mass production. My bags are all one of a kind and made to order, although I do have stock,” she says. “I also offer customization. For example, if there’s a certain kind of lining or different cell phone pocket you’d prefer.”
Having been away for a while, the young designer says she finds a huge shift in fashion and arts in PEI.
“There’s now such a pulse here on the Island for fashion. Although PEI was always very artistic, there is definitely a community of young people in fashion that are doing really great things and we all try to support each other.”
For inspiration, Dunphy says she does a lot of research online and pays close attention to trends and what other designers are doing to keep up.
“As much as you try to fight it, you have to be at least somewhat on trend. I’m always mindful of staying on trend with shape and colour, especially,” states Dunphy. “But after being in the industry for a while, you get better at predicting trends before they even happen.”
Yet, despite her growth as a designer, she recognizes that it is a continuous learning process.
“I’m perfecting it as I go. I really feel like you will stunt yourself as an artist, as a designer, as a person if you don’t recognize your strengths and weaknesses. I think that is also a really important part of staying grounded,” she concludes.
For your very own Jenny Dunphy handbag, check out www.jennydunphy.com or call (902) 940-7476 to book an appointment at her office.