It’s an amazing experience when we discover a new bag that totally transforms an outfit. It’s even more exciting when purchasing that bag helps out a worthy cause. If you think that’s too good to be true, check this out. Joy Gryson and her husband Pete have created a line of bags, the IIIBeCa line, that are not only stylish and functional, but have a charity component as well. For each bag sold, a percent of the price is donated to a charity chosen by Joy and Pete. Joy invited us into her TriBeCa store to take a look at the purses and learn even more about this stellar line.
Photography: Alexandra Frumberg
Tell us, what inspired you to start the IIIBeCa collection?
The IIIBeCa collection was inspired by the idea that Peter and I wanted to give back to our community and the causes that are very important to us. We have always felt that way and have been trying to find the right vehicle in order to do so for some time now. One evening, we went to a fundraiser for Family Focus Adoption Services, an adoption agency that my mother and other adoptive advocates founded. Knowing how much this little agency has accomplished and how hard it works to find permanent loving homes for hard-to-place children was the final catalyst to get this idea into motion. We did not want to wait any longer! We knew that we wanted to give back in a different way, not by directly donating, but by including the public, retailers and consumers. We feel that it is important for as many people as possible to be aware of these not-for-profit organizations. The IIIBeCa by Joy Gryson collection came to fruition when we realized that there was an opportunity to make simple chic bags that were colorful, easy, functional and fun, all for under $200, which in our minds, gave the retailer and consumer a very easy reason to buy, and in turn donate, learn about the causes and feel great about their purchase.
Joy Gryson in her NYC boutique
We love that no IIIBeCa bag is over $200 and that 9% of the profit goes to charity! Can you tell us about the charities and why you chose them?
Family Focus Adoption Services – Family Focus Adoption Services is very close to my heart, with my mother as one of the founders! I remember when my parents and the other founders first had the idea to start the adoption agency over 25 years ago. They made their dream come true with remarkable hard work. I worked for the agency during my summers throughout college, so I know firsthand how much love and work they put into it. I am also adopted and very fortunate to have grown up with a loving family. I love that FFAS gives so many others the same opportunity.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering – my husband, Peter, unfortunately lost his mother, Velma, to cancer. She fought her battle against the disease at Memorial Sloan-Ketting. We are forever grateful for the kindness and care that she was given during that time. It is important to us that we help Memorial Sloan-Kettering continue to give that same kind of care to many others and support their research.
The 911 Memorial is so important to us because Peter and I were in lower Manhattan on September 11th and witnessed the tragic events unfold. We live just blocks away from the Memorial and it is part of our community and our every day lives. It is important to us that the memories of those who were killed in the attacks live on.
“Our wall of IIIBeCa bags! From top to bottom.” (North Moore Satchels, Chambers Crossbody, Duane Street Messenger, Reade Street Tote)
How did you pick out the pretty colors that the IIIBeCa bags have?
The colors were chosen because of how I hoped they’d make people feel. I know that women do love color, but sometimes hesitate to wear it. The red, orange, marine and green are all colors that are vibrant, but can still be worn without overpowering one’s outfit. While color is an important trend, it was important to make sure that the styles are very wearable and transitional from season to season.
What are some of the challenges of starting a new collection?
Because this is our third official collection, we’ve learned from the challenges from our previous two collections. Brand awareness is always very important. It is so necessary to ensure that we are messaging the IIIBeCa story properly while getting the word about the charities and the brand out to as many people as possible.
In the center of the store in front of the Gryson (right) and Olivia Harris (left) bags.
How would you style the different IIIBeCa bags? Do you have a favorite?
What I love about the IIIBeCa bags is that they are all so versatile. Each one can be worn with so many different outfits and looks. For example, the Reade Street tote is awesome for work, as a nice cavernous tote bag that is structured enough that is just stands right up and lets you throw in all of your work papers, computers and books, while at the same time, it can be a great bag to bring to the gym, or worn out and about on the weekends. It really is an all-purpose bag, but is very simple and makes an outfit more chic!
The Duane Street Messenger is a bag that can truly be worn any day with any outfit. It fits everything you need it to for the day. You can fit an ipad, wallet, phone, keys, make up, and many other necessities. If you wear it on your shoulder, you can easily wear it to the office, and dress it up, but if you want a more casual look, you can elongate the strap and wear it across your body for a more casual and fun feel.
The North Moore Satchel is aesthetically probably my favorite. It is a little more fashion forward than the other styles, but I love its hand-held ability, as well as the fact that it can be worn on one shoulder or across the body. I have a tendency to change up how I wear my bags depending on what I am doing and how much I am carrying, so I like to be able to have options.
The Chambers Crossbody-now this is the perfect bag for anyone who likes to simplify their lives and don’t want to carry anything more than their phone, wallet and lipstick! It can fit all of those items so nicely, but keep it all snug in one place, all while looking great and carefree. It can be worn day and night. It’s just so lightweight!
“Our North Moore Satchel from the IIIBeCa collection in Marine. The tag on the bag is in the shape of a trapezoid (much like TriBeCa itself!) and tells the story of the three charities that the bag’s purchase will donate to.”
Your NYC boutique is gorgeous! How did you come up with the design?
The By Joy Gryson store was a great collaboration between my husband, Peter, and our architect firm, DB Studio (Damian, Brit and one of their wonderful designers, Kate) and me. Pete initially conceptualized the store and its layout. I cannot take the credit for that! He did a lot of research to see what works in terms of layout, coloring, lighting, fixtures and much more. It was important to us that when a person came into the store they felt an excited sense of discovery, while not being intimidated to look or touch the product.
We wanted to ensure that the bags were the main objects that the costumer was looking at, so we made the store the backdrop, or the stage where the bags were showcased. We went for simplicity with clean white walls, but made sure that the lighting, shelving and hooks were thought out and beautiful accents to enhance the viewing and shopping experience. We find the TriBeCa neighborhood to be so beautiful (which is why we live in the neighborhood as well!), and we wanted to make sure that when you walked into the store, it felt like you were still in the neighborhood, and not that you’d walked in to a completely different world. We loved the brick walls, so we painted them white, giving off a great textural look juxtaposed against the refurbished wood shelving, and the wood and lucite rods that the bags hang from.
The grey slate floors give off a very industrial yet natural feel, and add to the texture of the store. Then the beautifully designed lighting is an extension of our bags, showing both form and function. It is purposefully modern and industrial, so that it is pleasing to the eye, but still very inviting.
“Our Gryson Wall! The top row is mostly made up of our beloved Ellie bag, one of my favorites!”
What can we look forward to next from Joy Gryson?
Oh, I wish I could tell you that, but to be honest, I’m not even sure right now! But here’s what I can tell you…….there will be SOMETHING next!