Photo shows etoile model with the Alessia Large Boa bag in the color Navy.

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Shine Bright with Annye Grande from etoile

Photo shows etoile model with the Alessia Large Boa bag in the color Navy.

On October 25, we had an opportunity to interview Annye Grande, founder, creative director, and CEO of etoile. Etoile is this year’s Accessories Council Design Excellence Award winner for the best handbag over $1000. Both of us were thrilled for this opportunity, but nervous all the same. We learned this is Mrs. Grande’s second Design Excellence Award for one of her pieces. This year, she won the award for her Alessia Large Boa bag. 

This article is part of a series of interviews conducted by LIM students with winners of the Accessories Council's 2021 Design Excellence Awards (DEA). Students are enrolled in the College's Introduction to the Fashion Business classes.

We began the interview by congratulating Ms. Grande on etoile winning a Design Excellence Award two years in a row. Annye expressed her appreciation to the both of us, and then explained how winning awards and realizing what she has achieved helps inspire her on days when her creativity is blocked or when things aren’t going the way they should be. Ms. Grande has been in the luxury industry for over 20 years and cites her hard work and experience as the reason for her successful luxury company.

Photo shows the Alessia Large Boa bag in Navy.
The Alessia Large Boa bag in Navy.

Annye Grande is originally from Montreal, Canada, so when asked why she chose Dallas as her headquarters, she said that it’s the best location for business and entrepreneurship. She claims that due to the location of her headquarters is in close proximity to the airport, she can travel frequently to visit her company sister stores in Las Vegas, Nevada and Aspen, Colorado.

We asked Ms. Grande about the names she chose for her styles. Within the Boa collection, there are three styles, each with a feminine name. Annye described how each name has an important meaning to her. For example, her latest line shares a name with her dog, while the first collection shares a name with her daughter.

However, when it came to creating a brand name, that had a lot more significance. Etoile is the French word for star, and while choosing a French word made sense in Annye’s case, the word itself had us curious, until she explained. Ms. Grande explained how the star symbol is timeless and it reflects the company’s culture and reflects her vision. Annye strives to produce and design the best products and make them the best that they can be for her customers.

This mindset, of nothing but the best, led to the next question of what does Annye thinks she is doing ‘right’ within her company since she’s won two awards now. Her answer was just as we expected after learning about the meaning of the company name. Ms. Grande wants everything to be the best within her company. From the manufacturers to the production process, to the material and details that make up her products. She strictly uses only the best and keeps in close contact with her suppliers. She also believes that listening to the company’s clients is very important.

Annye claims that the inspiration behind the Alessia Boa bags are the needs of the everyday woman. She wished to create a bag that had it all and could fit her needs of running between show rooms, meetings, and everyday life. By following her creative instincts in which she prides herself on, she created the Alessia Boa collection to help every working woman have a bag that was “as beautiful as it is intelligent.”

Annye Grande ended the interview with a piece of advice to students, upcoming designers, and entrepreneurs is to be engaged and informed in whatever industry they choose to begin their careers in. “However,” she added, “It’s also important to enjoy what they do and love their work. And enjoyment and a true love for her work is exactly what we saw in Ms. Grande when she spoke of her inspiring brand etoile.

Photo shows Annye Grande with Mia Sherman and Lauren Smelker.
Annye Grande with Mia Sherman and Lauren Smelker.