Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Help for the Overstuffed Handbag - How Mesh Purse Pouches Saved My Life!

My overstuffed disgrace of a handbag

The other night, we were one our way to a working women’s girl’s night out and, being in the passenger seat, my friend Jo Anne made me her designated handbag holder. As she reached over to fish out her keys, I couldn’t help but notice how disturbingly organized it was in there. (The odds of finding a pen, better yet a credit card, in my bag are about as good as making it up that rope ladder to win a giant stuffed Tweety Bird at the state fair!)

Jo Anne's disturbingly neat bag
Jo Anne’s bag was filled with colorful — almost weightless — mesh pouches that not only allowed her to group like items, but to see through the pouches to the contents. I was nothing short of amazed at this simple solution to a problem I’m sure dates back to Mrs. Caveman trying to organize the inside of her hollowed out coconut.

Realizing her wallet was the heaviest thing in her bag, Jo Anne made the bold decision to eliminate it altogether. I’ve spent years thinking the wallet was the piece de resistance of the handbag. But despite trying every style known to mankind, I always end up with a wallet that won’t snap or zip, because it’s overstuffed with change, cards and hundreds of receipts. I admit it. I’m a receipt keeper. Why I hold onto every piece of paper that tells me I spent $1.07 on an unsweetened tea from McDonald’s, I don’t know. I just know I need it. Don’t judge me.

But I digress. Jo Anne’s life changed when she discovered, Walker Products' sturdy colorful mesh pouches in assorted sizes, shapes and colors. She uses the pouches to group and color code like items.
“I have a green dollar-sized pouch for my money,” she says. “I could do bills in one pouch and coins in another, but I don’t. I put it all it one, because it’s easier to just pull out one thing.” Enlightened moment: My GOD, she’s eliminated the change purse too!

“Then, I have two colors of the credit card size pouch — one pink, one orange,” Jo Anne says. “I put my driver's license and the credit cards I use all the time in one pouch. In the other, I put the cards I rarely use … my library card, my health plan card, my beauty card from Sephora . . .”

Instead of having only one pouch for receipts, Jo Anne uses two different-colored pouches — one for everyday receipts and one for business expenses, “so everything’s easy to keep track of,” she says.
Finally, there’s a pouch for makeup and a small pouch for business cards. She uses the pockets built into her handbag for easy access to her phone and gum and the built in zippered pouch holds her keys, so she’s never scrounging. 

The colored pouch system serves a lot of purposes. Not only does it keep a handbag organized; it also lightens the load and helps maintain a bag's shape.

“A lot of today’s sophisticated handbag styles are very slim,” says Jo Anne. “You don’t want to overstuff them. The style is lost if your bag looks pregnant. These thin mesh pouches allow me to be organized, while keeping a slim silhouette.”  (Oh no, I’m thinking. My handbag has to look slim, too? I’ve lost 60 pounds since last March, but it never occurred to me that I need to Jenny Craig my pocketbook!)

So here I am, with my entire handbag world turned upside down — literally. Yesterday, I stopped into Zoey Bloom for a handbag makeover. The first thing we did was put my bag on a postage scale. It was pushing 7 pounds! That’s a baby! (And most people use wheels to haul around their babies!) My wallet alone rang in at a pound and a quarter. No wonder my neck and shoulders always ache. That’s what happens when your bag weighs the same as the chicken you roasted on Passover.
Jo Anne’s bag, with it’s colorful, mesh organizers weighed just 3 ½ pounds.
We emptied the contents of my purse onto the counter, and our fundamental difference in philosophy became clear. Jo Anne limits what she carries to essentials.  I’ve always thought the bigger the bag, the more I can haul.

Inside my bag were four hand lotions; two pain relievers; a wallet/change purse; a stand-alone change purse; a case for overflow credit cards; an iPod; checkbook; phone; Bluetooth; keys; gift cards still attached to the display cardboard; months of receipts; a Swarovski-studded credit card case; sunglasses; reading glasses; 2 lip balms; cuticle cream; 3 bottles of hand sanitizer; and enough feminine hygiene products to distribute to a small nation. There was a nutritional guide from Larry’s Subs, a brochure from the Seminole Heights shopping district ... 

My husband asked me if Jimmy Hoffa was in there.

We began eliminating the unnecessary clutter weighing me down. Whenever I go out, for instance, I throw in the lipstick and liner I’m wearing that day, but I never take them out. I just keep adding to a cosmetic stockpile.

We took out four pens, a highlighter and the Sharpie I carry just in case there’s a celebrity autograph opp. We removed rewards cards and library cards from the last two states I lived in, old receipts, brochures and handfuls of heavy coins. I need to go through this process weekly, because “stuff” accumulates. There were jet ski brochures from a Long Boat Key vacation more than a month ago.

Grouping like items, we figured five pouches should do it — one for money, one for receipts, one for the credit cards I use all the time, one for the cards I use only occasionally, and a big miscellaneous pouch for a my lip balm, pen, breath mints, hand lotion, sanitizer and other “floaters” which routinely end up at the bottom of my bag. I opted out of a make up pouch, because I really don’t reapply anything but lipstick, and that can go in my catch-all pouch.
My bag makeover
 I love being able to see through the pouches to the contents.  The one exception is my feminine products, which I opted to keep in a thin fabric cosmetic case, so they wouldn't be on display for every cashier in town.  And now I carry enough for a day, not a two-week Mediterranean cruise!

With my new zippered mesh pouches in contrasting colors, when I reach into my bag I now know what pouch to pull out in any given situation. My new handbag lost about four pounds!  And in case you're wondering:

Jimmy Hoffa’s still missing!

Walker mesh carrying cases in a variety of colors and sizes at Zoey Bloom:
3” x 4” (slightly bigger than a credit card or a business card)
4” x 5 (slightly bigger than a phone or iPod)
4” x 7” (slightly bigger than a dollar bill or a checkbook — perfect for receipts, pens and makeup brushes)
9 x 7 (a great size to fit all of your miscellaneous must haves)


a said...

I'm always digging through my purse in frustration. I love this. What a great concept.

LM said...

What a great idea for the girl that likes to switch out bags every few weeks, okay, weekly...okay...sometimes daily!

Shannon W. said...

I like that the pouches are brightly colored, very clever. Often purse liners are black...or more accurately, a black hole. With the bright colors items 'pop' out and you can find things quickly.

Tracy said...

What great ideas for an organized handbag! I just visited your store and purchased some of these colorful little mesh pouches. They work just as you said they would! Thanks Zoey Bloom!

Chelsea Johnson said...

Thank you so much for the purse makeover on Saturday! I wanted to send you a picture showing you the "after" shot. I unfortunately didn't get a picture of the "before."
Black for makeup (pared way down to just the essential Arbonne products!), light pink for my grab-and-go items (ID, credit card, phone, headphones), dark pink for personal items (vitamins, Stevia, and an emergency feminine product), purple for receipts to file and keep, green for cash and change, and blue for little used cards (Insurance, membership, etc.) per your recommendation!

I'm thrilled. My favorite bag is light, closes and zips easily, and I can find everything at a glance. I've told everyone on Facebook about your wonderful store!

James Sontag said...

Post it on our Facebook page Chelsea, it is always our pleasure!

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