Name: Annye Grande
Location: Dallas, Texas
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 5 full-time
Founder Annye Grande with an Etoile handbag.
When Annye Grande started out in the fashion industry as a new college grad, she ran into a dilemma: She wanted to look put together and polished when working with clients, but couldn’t drop thousands of dollars on luxury handbags.
After realizing she had identified a void in the fashion industry, Grande created her own solution, launching handbag company Etoile in 2017. The business specializes in high-end purses, but at a more obtainable price point.
“I just decided to go for it,” says the Canadian native. “It took me two years to build a bag that is efficient the way I want it to be efficient and luxurious the way I want it to be luxurious. To this day that original bag is still our bestseller.”
Her work paid off: When Etoile debuted at a trunk show in Dallas, Texas, its handbags were sold out in an hour.
That original bag is the Alessia tote. It now comes in three different sizes with multiple colorways and materials, starting at $425 for a mini nylon model and going up to $3,995 for a large ostrich-leather version.
Despite the economy’s recent challenges, consumers are still buying luxury goods. The luxury market hit $303B in 2021, and the global luxury handbag market is estimated to reach $97B by 2026.
Etoile imports almost all of its materials from Italy, and manufactures 100% of its products in the US. It sells directly to consumers online, with brick-and-mortar stores in Las Vegas and Dallas.
Here, Grande lets us inside her business — and her wallet — by breaking down average monthly expenses, salary, revenue, and more.
TOTAL EXPENSES — $156,479
Each month, Grande aims to keep cash on hand for the business, trying not to dip below $100k
Grande calculated her 2022 revenue projection based on year-over-year growth, on-hand wholesale orders, investments made in Etoile’s ecommerce business, and planned store openings.
Etoile operates with three revenue streams: wholesale (retailers that the brand sells to), its two brick-and-mortar stores, and the D2C ecomm channel.
Though its direct-to-consumer sales are currently the smallest slice of the pie, Grande plans to transform that in the next year and hopes to grow it into the business’s main source of cash flow.
However, Grande says wholesale has been invaluable for building consumer trust. Etoile is currently carried in about 80 stores throughout the US, and Grande is deliberate about which retailers carry her brand to further its reputation.
“To have those touch points in legacy stores that carry our product gives us credibility,” she says. “When you’re in the infancy of your brand, you’re 100% defined by distribution, whether it’s wholesale or your own store.”
To elevate Etoile’s D2C experience, the company is introducing a live shopping feature where customers can talk to representatives online, which will help mimic the in-store buying process. It’s also refreshing its branding, creating new editorial content across ecomm and social channels.
“We are really coming out as a grown-up brand in our fifth year,” says Grande. “I think investing in the mothership — the brand, the brand status, the brand equity, the brand’s community — will bring more revenue in all of our channels.”
Ultimately, bags play only a small role in Grande’s ultimate goal, which is to build a full-blown lifestyle company. But she recognizes that entrepreneurship is anything but easy, and says the struggles along the way make her a better founder.
“I’ve made tons of mistakes — I still continue to make them and pay for them,” says Grande. “In the end, if you want to succeed, you just have to keep going. One punch in the face at a time, we’re going to get there.”
All in all, Grande’s current monthly spending adds up to:
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