So what do you do when you’re a gal who’s all fired up about concealed carry, and you live in the part of the country where it’s usually so warm that you’re not likely to be wearing a jacket to conceal your carry in, but you don’t want to give your assailant the upper trigger finger while you’re trying to stand your ground while fumbling around in your Coach bag or Longchamps tote looking for your personal modus defendi?
Well, if you’re Kate Woolstenhulme, you design a handbag fitted out for your handgun.
Created for self-defense. Crafted for self-confidence.
And all part of a new fashion trend toward concealed carry clothing.
In truth, if folks are going to carry a weapon in public, I’d just as soon have it be concealed. Watching folks walking around playing Marshall Dillon and Little Joe Cartwright with their six shooters on both hips would – silly me! – actually make me feel less safe and secure.
But it really hadn’t occurred to me that there are so many people who own handguns who actually carry them with them, as opposed to leave them in their night table or ironing basket or sock drawer, that there’s a demand for specialized clothing and pocketbooks.
Fashion that fits any lifestyle. Holster that fit any gun.
Before she got into the handgun handbag biz, Woolstenhulme and her husband had a Dallas-based business refurbishing private jets.
In 2006, we sold our business and moved to Florida. We were there for a while, and around the 2008 election, there was a movement toward getting firearms. Being in Miami, my safety and security started to concern me. My husband bought me a Smith & Wesson 9 millimeter for Christmas. I went ahead and signed up for a Florida concealed carry permit. While waiting for the permit, I realized that all of those upscale handbags I had bought were not made to safely and properly carry a gun. You need to be able to lock it up. (Source: Interview with Kate Woolstenhulme in Fashionista.)
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a Smith & Wesson, that’s for sure. Think stocking stuffer (stalking stuffer?) or Yankee swap.
Woolstenhulme looked around and discovered that the available handbags were focused on function, not form.
So I decided to try and make something that is fashionable for women who don’t want to leave their personality at the front door.
Or leave their personality in the nightstand or sock drawer.
(In truth, I have no idea whatsoever what not wanting to leave your personality at the front door even means in the context of handbags and handguns. This may be because I am not a pistol packin’ mama, with gun ownership as an integral part of my personality.)
Anyway, the bags come in a number of different styles, and they don’t come cheap.
A low-ender will run you $269, but if you’re really serious about your pocketbooks, and you don’t have a lot of worries when it comes to your pocketbook, you can spring for a $4,200 bag made out of crocodile. Most are in the $300+ range, like this one for $344.
Whose buying these bags, other than rich Dallas ladies who are snapping up those $4,200 Caiman croc bags at the Dallas Beretta store? (Who even knew that there are Beretta stores? Well, there are, and not just in Big D. There’s one on Madison Avenue, too.) Anyway, Woolstenhulme’s business is growing – up 30% year over year – and among her buyers:
…undercover or plain-clothes officers are becoming a bigger part of the business. The other market that has opened up is women who aren’t necessarily carrying a firearm. The holster is removable, but the locking pocket [the secure spot where you keep the holster] can be used for anything. A gun-carrying woman might buy a bag for herself, but she also has a mother who may take medication and can use the locking pocket to lock that up.
Matching mother-daughter concealed carry handbags. Gotta love it.
Well, find a niche and fill it, I always say, and this is what Woolstenhulme is doing, with:
CONCEALED CARRY BAGS that not only look smart, but have …smart features.
These smart features include quick release holster retention straps, “pig suede or textile lining,” and an “outside pocket for spare magazines”, which my brain first interpreted as a place to stuff your New Yorker.
And, just to make sure you’ve belted and suspendered up, weapon wise:
Elastic loops secure flashlight, pepper spray, spare magazines or baton.
Twirl on, concealed weapon fashion mavens!
I originally read about Woolstenhulme in The New Yorker. But even if you subscribe – which I do – you can’t get a digital version of the copy. So I found a couple of places where I could get info without having to retype it. In addition to the Fashionista interview, I looked at Woolstenhulme’s business site, Design Concealed Carry. (And hiss, boo, New Yorker, for your crappy online edition.)