Former Spartan to release Michigan-themed handbag line
When MSU alumna Jenna Kator lost her job with General Motors Co., in December 2008, she didn’t know a new opportunity had presented itself.
“I was looking for positions and there weren’t any,” she said. “But I’ve always wanted to own my own company.”
With the support of her husband, Mike Kator, Jenna Kator started looking into creating her own line of designer handbags.
“I knew that she really wasn’t happy with her job,” Mike Kator said of his wife’s stint at General Motors. “In my mind, I knew this was an opportunity — it was kind of a blessing in disguise.”
Grace Boutique, 115 W. Grand River Ave., in Lansing, will feature Jenna Kator’s 2011 Winter Collection in a trunk show at 6 p.m. tonight. Patrons will have an opportunity to see and purchase the collection, as well as meet the designer.
Summer Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique, said this is the first time the boutique has ever had a trunk show.
“I wouldn’t have done it for anyone else,” she said. “I really like that (Kator’s) from Michigan and she went to MSU. She’s worked hard to honor Michigan with what she does, and I’m very impressed by her. I’ve never been struck that way by any designers we’ve carried here so far.”
Jenna Kator said the key feature of the collections is each bag is named for a Michigan city.
“What we’re excited about is that she just named a bag for Old Town,” Schriner said. “It’s a really cute bag.”
Kator said the decision to name the bags after Michigan communities came from a desire to give back to the state.
“I tap into our state for inspiration,” she said. “I just love all of the different cities that are featured because I used to travel to them when I was younger. … They all have a personal meaning.”
Jenna Kator said the first bag she designed was for her hometown of Troy, which she said is her signature bag. She said she tried to design the bag to be as “fashion-forward” as her hometown itself.
Jenna Kator said as her collection continues to grow, she is looking to feature other Michigan cities.
“I’m tapping into Michiganders and asking, ‘What’s your favorite city and why?’” she said. “I’m taking their stories and incorporating them into the (designs).”
Jenna Kator, who graduated from MSU with a degree in advertising, contributes much of her success back to her alma mater.
“All the skills I learned from advertising really helped me market and develop my product,” she said.
After her change of career, Jenna Kator said she advises Spartans to take advantage of their close-knit community, as well as campus, when pursuing their goals.
“If you have a dream and a passion, go for it,” she said. “It’s all about research, and it’s all about networking. It’s all about going for it — just do it.”