Voylan was established for the sophisticated woman on the go. Their elegant, yet practical, staple pieces are the perfect complement to a demanding work and travel schedule as they easily transition from business meetings to long weekend getaways or evenings out on the town.
The inspiration for the brand came from founder Milica Kostic’s lifestyle as a management consultant. Years of packing for weekly flights and navigating busy airports, hotels and boardrooms resulted in the realization that there was a significant need for high-quality handbags that would be both functional and appropriate for all occasions. Shortly thereafter, on a road trip through Tuscany, the heart of Italy’s leather industry, the idea for Voylan was born.
Milica is a real go getter and someone that we were so inspired by, so much so that we spent some time with her to find out more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching Voylan…
Voylan is a brand born out of necessity. While I worked as a management consultant, I travelled far and wide on a weekly basis and finding a handbag that could take me from the airport, to the office, followed by a dinner out proved to be an incredible challenge. It was then that I realized that there was a significant need in the market for designs that would be both functional for the professional woman and sophisticated at the same time, so that she is putting her best foot forward as she goes about tackling her daily challenges. That is when the idea for Voylan first started to form in my mind and the following summer during a vacation in Tuscany, where I learned more about Italy’s leather industry, the vision just fell into place.
What sets you apart from other fashion brands?
Most handbags make women choose between style and function. Voylan was founded with the mission to merge the two and is driven by a commitment to timeless and functional designs. Therefore, the key differentiator that sets us apart from other brands would be our signature handcrafted interiors. Each piece is thoughtfully engineered, comprising of padded laptop or tablet pockets, stretchable pouches to easily store your water bottle and keys and a multitude of open compartments and zip pockets to ensure effortless organization. At the same time, the approach for each design is to first and foremost create a sophisticated classic that will never go out of style, ensuring that it can be worn with any outfit and be around for much longer than the typical seasonal trends.
Your bags scream practicality and give women the option to go from the boardroom to the airport with your versatility. Why was this important to you?
A handbag is one of the most important and intimate items the average woman possesses. It is more than just an accessory, it is a staple that carries our essentials for us everywhere and at all times, so the kind of piece a woman has on her can speak volumes about her lifestyle, taste and sense of personal style. Therefore, I truly see it as the most important investment we can make in our wardrobe, so providing both sophistication and versatility was a way for Voylan to help women both look and feel more confident, organised and ultimately empowered.
From the product range, what has been the best seller?
The styles are fairly evenly matched in terms of sales. What is apparent though is that there are clear favourites when it comes to what type of bag is being sought. The Manhattan Tote has established itself as the ultimate work bag, as it is large enough to fit a laptop and includes features such as a folder pocket, pen holders and trolley sleeve to effortlessly attach to luggage. As for leisure travel, both the Montreal Hobo and Sydney Messenger have received great feedback, it comes down to personal style when customers are deciding between the two.
Talk us through an average day at the business?
At our core, we value slow and sustainable fashion over seasonality, so new products are not released often. Instead, we incrementally introduce classic styles that will always be staples in a women’s wardrobe and expand them regularly with sophisticated colours that go with every outfit. The process begins with recognizing a need for what every woman needs in her closet and developing and finetuning a design that would best meet it. Once a design is finalized, I spend some time prototyping with our manufacturer in Tuscany and visiting tanneries in Italy to source the best possible leather before finally going into production.
In terms of an average day on the job, it really varies greatly depending on the task at hand. At certain periods of time there is a heavier focus on production activities, at other times marketing takes precedence with various features and interviews that come up. Ultimately, I am trying to ground myself in a plan and routine and establish as much consistency as possible to plan for the future and accelerate our growth.
What are your plans for the future?
Launched this past August, Voylan is already making a name for itself and we have only just begun. This coming year will see us introducing new colours to our existing collection as well as large zip around wallets. Looking beyond, we aim to become an established work and travel leather accessories brand, one that is synonymous with quality, functionality and elegance.
Since launching the brand, what has been your highlight?
Voylan being selected for Conde Nast Traveller’s Luxury Gift Guide. On the day I first got the idea for this travel inspired brand, I remember briefly thinking how incredible it would be to eventually end up in Conde Nast Traveller. To have someone from the magazine reach out to us just months into our launch was quite literally a dream come true and a huge sense of personal accomplishment.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
There are always things you would do differently in hindsight, especially in situations where you are faced with many unknowns and learning on the go. What I am trying to focus on is to learn from everything, apply it to the future and continuously improve based upon those past experiences.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit and visit most of my bucket list destinations, but the top of what remains on my list right now is doing an African safari in Botswana or Kenya. In the last few years I have become much more interested in exploring the natural wonders of the world, as I find it incredibly inspiring to see all of the diversity and beauty our world offers.
What quote do you like to read when you are lacking motivation?
“The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” I go back to this whenever I get impatient and expect immediate results or become easily discouraged. If you keep your focus on what you can control and on doing your best in given circumstances, then I believe that good things will eventually happen.
For anyone wanting to start their own business, what advice would you offer?
Be prepared for a challenge and become comfortable with uncertainty. Starting a business is entering unchartered territory, where no matter how well you prepare you will not know all the twists and turns that lie ahead. However, the key is to pursue something you truly believe in and have a clear strategy to always go back to and ground yourself in when you are faced with obstacles, which you inevitably will be. Finally, be determined and have a support system in place. You will hit walls, but perseverance combined with people that provide you with encouragement and advice whenever you feel like giving up can make all the difference.
What are your plans for the business in 2020?
The focus for 2020 is to grow the brand’s presence and continue establishing our identity as a go to for classical and practical designs.