Jennifer St. Jean doesn’t have a degree from FIT or a history in couture houses. What she does have, however, is an impeccable instinct for design and an innate sense of style. Lucky for us, she’s decided to do something with it. Her Fairfield County-based Itty Bitty Bag Company is a tiny pocket of gargantuan style. Jennifer is Fairfield County’s answer to Kate Spade.
“I’m definitely inspired by my mom,” says the diminutive Jennifer. “She made my prom dress, my Halloween costumes, all by hand.”
Stepping over the threshold into her Darien home studio delights the senses. Warm reds and oranges grace the walls, the perfect backdrop for the smiling family photos sprinkled throughout, most snapped by her husband, Shawn. In her warm kitchen, she offers coffee and casual conversation.
“I’m blessed with a family that supports what I do, and is interested in it,” says Jennifer. “I’ve taught both my girls how to sew. And Shawn is so supportive.”
In her second floor corner studio, she has bright, patterned fabrics neatly arranged, along with bags handcrafted in rich, tightly-woven burlap and cotton on display. Totes, clutches and cases for Nooks or Kindles dot the shelves in splashes of texture and color. All of it is enviably well-organized.
“It all started when my best friend got married,” explains Jennifer. “I wanted to do something special for her and for the bridesmaids. So I made small bags for all of them. After that, I realized I didn’t have a clutch that I liked. I made one for myself, and posted a photo on Facebook. After that, friends started asking, ‘Can you make one for me?’ And that’s how Itty Bitty Bag Company got started.”
Since then, Jennifer has made her playful, preppy designs available in her online Etsy shop, as well as in two Northeast retailers, Seaport Studios of Rhode Island and Vineyard Kinda Life on Martha’s Vineyard. “I make every bag by hand,” says Jennifer, who holds herself to a very high standard. “I’m always making changes to my designs. I can always make something a little bit better.”
Have you seen Itty Bitty Bag Company at summer sidewalk sales? And have you ever seen a cuter batch of handmade bags? Tell me what you think of Jennifer's designs. Leave a comment here, or email me at