Hold the Leather: Nora Baldwin Creates Chic Vegan Handbags

How a former attorney turned her desire to feel good about the handbag she’s carrying into her own business

To dare to create something new is an admirable act of bravery. Bolder still when you forge your own path, brushing past everyone else’s rules for how things should be done, steering by your own pilot light. Wanderlust’s Live by Your Ideals series features those artists, makers, and entrepreneurs who are doing just that—contributing to the world on their own terms.


Nora Baldwin had her “aha!” moment at the point of sale.

“I was about to purchase a bag made from calfskin,” the Colorado-based entrepreneur recalled. “I was pregnant at the time—and perhaps extra weepy—but it hit me that I would never feel good carrying that bag. I needed something stylish comprised of a material I could feel comfortable carrying. After realizing that I could not find modern, high-end, vegan handbags, Viva Creatures! was born.”

Nora was so convinced that she could help animals through fashion that she left her career as an attorney to enroll in design classes, then launched Viva Creatures! in 2014. The bags are chic and sleek, with an emphasis on strong colors, minimalism, and geometric shapes.

Beyond her commitment to cruelty-free, Nora is also passionate about supporting artisans and minimizing environmental impact. The bags are made in the U.S., and  “we source the most beautiful vegan fabrics with the smallest footprint we can manage,” she said. “We source from U.S.-based mills whenever possible.” She noted that Viva Creatures! eschews PVC (known for its detrimental effects on health and the environment) in favor of the less-toxic PU and other, more sustainable and recycled textiles. “Sustainability is paramount, but it’s also a work in progress,” Nora added. “While the industry continues to improve the sustainability of vegan materials, they are in a far better place than the leather industry. The latter shares responsibility for all environmental destruction caused by the meat industry—which is plenty—as well as pollution caused by toxins used in tanning. I know that one day we will do even more, as suppliers catch up with demand.”

Going against the grain isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it, and the future is bright. “Designing clean, modern, logo-free bags, using high-end materials, and making them in the USA is certainly a challenge,” Nora said. “However, we hope to serve a customer who wants a different experience. She wants a connection to her bags—a bag that has its own story and that becomes part of her story.”

For more on Nora’s story, including, how her love affair with fashion began, her most hilarious style faux pas, and, of course, what she wears now, continue reading this story on stylishkind.com

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Photo courtesy of Viva Creatures!