Feature in RACKED LA: Line We Love

Last time we caught up with bag-making babe Toni Truong, it was at one of her DIY leather crafting workshops—where we left our very own cute yellow clutch, FYI. Since then the woman behind TONI has been busying herself with the usual: handmaking her line's beloved bags and fanny packs in house and coming up with more sleek and functional pieces (Psst! Keep an eye out for her cosmetic bag in metallic coming soon).

We got the Texan born lady to tell us more about when she first fell in love with leather, how she shops for textiles, and why she'll probably ask to see your wallet.

How did you first begin experimenting with leather?

I was going through an exploratory phase and working at a fabric store at the time. I was in-between jobs and thought working there would be a good opportunity to learn about textiles and to meet people working in the industry. It was Christmas time. My mom is not a present-type person, so I wanted to make her something instead of buying a present. I bought a piece of leather from the fabric store and made my first leather bag. I fell in love with it and started the TONI line a couple of months later.

You know a lot of the processes that go into making a bag. Why was it important to learn those hands-on? Not every designer does.

I make all the bags in my studio. I fell in love with the skill of leather craftsmanship and all the tools/machinery, so it's natural for me to learn on my own and produce the bags in house. From designing, sourcing, pattern making, prototyping to production, I still do it all. Because I know the my products and process really well, I have a better grasp of how to expand the line. As a small business owner, it has been beneficial to contribute to every part of the process from the beginning. I learned a lot of my strengths and weaknesses, and it's allowed me to focus on the things I am good at and to outsource the rest.

Let's talk textiles. How do you choose your leathers?

I handpick all the leather and materials! The collection is sourced from all local vendors around town. I start the design process with a design in mind and look for leather best for that structure. I chose leather based on their texture and thickness. I then choose leather colors available with those qualities.

We've been to one of your fun workshops in the past. Any plans for more?

Of course! It's such a rewarding experience to be part of someone's creative process. It also has been a great source of inspiration for the line. It's an opportunity to learn about people and how they carry what they carry. I lean on that knowledge when I design. I tend to collaborate with other brands for workshops. It happens organically. The best way to find out when the next leather workshop is through social media and or newsletter.

Where else do you find inspiration?

Everywhere! I tend to pin mood boards of natural elements with textures and imperfect beauty. I find that they have a lot of similarities of what I find so beautiful in leather. And also people! I always ask people if I can see their wallet. For me, it tells a lot about a person's personality.

Tell us about the TONI customer.

A cool, independent person that likes to 'collect things' to add to their wardrobe. A person that edits and simplifies. A person like knows exactly what they like.

The Everydays with Amee.Kim

The everydays in the TONI ZIP CLUTCH
by AMEE.KIM.


SHOP


MEET AMEE

AY-mee    "beloved"

Amee moved to Los Angeles from her home in Maryland in 2012 after graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park where she received her B.S. in Communication and Public Relations. She is currently working in fashion e-commerce as well as pursuing freelance photography and social media consulting.

Her east coast roots have inspired her modern, minimalist and often menswear-like sense of style. Similarly, her aesthetic for photography has been described as minimal, dark and moody. Influenced by her creative environment, Amee blended all that she loves into one channelmusic, fashion, travel, dance and perfect soy-chai lattes. Her life, curated.

www.ameekim.com

The Everydays with Cult Collective

The everydays in the perfect sized TONI cosmetic bag by Cult Collective.


SHOP


MEET CULT COLLECTIVE

Every city houses a group of people with hearts that beat with blood unlike the rest. They are the wanderers, the innovators, the vagabonds; the rebels, bohemians, hippies and exiles. They are the beatniks and the dreamers. They are called outsiders; the architects of an independent and authentic life. 

We are a CULT of innovators; a gathering place for these architects of authenticity. We are explorers and free thinkers living with irrevocable passion and an insatiable hunger for life. CULT is not just a magazine, it's a code of living - a lifestyle that supports positive, motivated and goal-driven individuals, forging forward in the direction of their dreams and living a deliberate life. 

CULT is dedicated to all of the innovators, the vagabonds, the wanderlusted and the starry-eyed. The ones bound to freedom and spirit of rebellion. 

thecultcollective.com

Racked.com

Racked.com covers the launch of our new collection.

 

"...up-and-coming designer Toni Truong, a former Texas-based energy trader who ditched her not-so-electrifying job to chase her dreams in design." - DANIELLE DIRECTO-MESTON


"Along with breeding label-obsessed bag ladies, the City of Angels' perfectly sunny conditions also seem to cultivate cool carryall creators (Clare VivierSimone HaroucheMarie Turnor, the list goes on) to keep LA's closets happy. Joining that list is up-and-coming designer Toni Truong, a former Texas-based energy trader who ditched her not-so-electrifying job to chase her dreams in design. Her leap of faith resulted in TONI, a new LA-based label of luxe leather handbags, accessories and more..."

Above is an excerpt from racked.com. Read the full story here.

Bunch Magazine

BUNCH Magazine spotlight on Toni.

"Toni’s wares are gorgeously soft and buttery, substantial yet lightweight, visually distinctive yet seamlessly integrative with any type of sartorial style. We see a big windfall on the horizon for her goods." - KIRA HESSER


"Do you know many energy traders? Do you even know what the *beeeeeeep* energy trading really IS? Los Angeles leather-goods company visionary Toni Truong does, because a quarter-life crisis inspired her to quit her job as one. A mere few years ago, she traded her manic power-business career in Texas for a design degree at the Otis College of Art and Design, and the rest is history.

She took her future into her own hands, literally, and founded her company TONI. TONI is a downtown Los Angeles-based leather goods company, specializing in leather baseball hats and bags of all shapes, sizes, and colors, from getaway totes to somehow-super-cool fanny packs. Toni’s wares are gorgeously soft and buttery, substantial yet lightweight, visually distinctive yet seamlessly integrative with any type of sartorial style. We see a big windfall on the horizon for her goods."

Above is an excerpt from bunchmag.com. Read the full story here.

Young Creative on lilyonfillmore.com

Lily On Fillmore adds Toni to the Young Creatives series.

 

Toni’s positive attitude was infectious during the workshop, even coming from someone like me who has absolutely zero patience for working with needles and other small-sized objects. Like the Young Creatives featured on this blog before her, Toni is one to watch, y’all.
- Valerie Chen


"Once upon a time, Toni Truong was a 22-year-old energy trader living in Houston, Texas. Every Monday through Friday, she sat at a desk flanked by eight computer monitors and two phones, dutifully dealing megawatts on an electrical grid.

Then, at age of 25, a “quarter-life crisis” hit. She soon quit her job at the oil and gas company, packed her bags and headed to Los Angeles, enrolling in Otis College of Art and Design with an emphasis in fashion design. A flurry of schooling and employment later — with each step of the way fueled by determination and perseverance — Toni now owns and operates her very own line of handcrafted leather goods for the refined and edited woman: TONI. Components of TONI’s luxe products are all locally sourced and handmade.

Though this change of heart might seem rather abrupt to you or me, it never was for Toni. She had always been crafty, particularly since learning how to sew in an 8th grade home economics class. Real life and its aptness toward practicality happened, however, and the hobby took a backseat to carrying out a booming internship turned full-time, lucrative job. Despite this paved path to success in the energy trading world, her “rat race”-type of life left her feeling empty and more than a little bit stuck.

Craving some sort of change, Toni took time off from her corporate-centric routine. Within a year, she gallivanted throughout approximately 14 countries, including a solo trip to Australia and a backpacking trip through Spain, Madrid and Barcelona."

Above is an excerpt from lilyonfillmore.com. Read the full story here.