Portrait of Emma Grigsby, owner of Sonrie Bags

Focus: Emma Grigsby | Sonrie Bags – Chicago, Illinois

10/14/2017 - 18:30


Emma Grigsby is the owner and operator of Sonrie Bags, based out of Chicago Illinois. She creates unique and custom bags for “sunny people”.

Sonrie, The brands’ namesake is derived from the Spanish word for smile. Emma says that the smile is both her inspiration and motivation to matching her one of a kind work with its rightful owner.

Rainbow Leaf- Cross-body Bag | Sonrie Bags

For the last 3 years, she has dedicated her passion to her craft creating bags that are both casual and stylish;  visually appealing and practical.

Currently, she is working on designing new cross-body bags and wristlets, during her downtime, Emma was kind enough to participate in the following interview.

Who are you and what do you do?  On this pale blue dot, I’m a human being.

I’ve been a full-time preschool teacher for 9 years, and as of last year, I’m the owner of Sonríe Bags.

During the day I build an environment for young children to explore, and during the evening I explore and analyze my environment, my mind!

How did you get the concept for your idea or business? I’ve always appreciated anyone who uses their hands to make or create something.

A few years ago my coworker, now husband Isaac Grigsby, ran an exceptional one-man small business company named WIG Bags. He made beautiful custom-made messenger bags, but when the urge came to him to pursue something new, I saw an opportunity to take over the sewing machine!

More than creating something, I wanted to see a glimpse, a smile in a person’s face as they received something from someone, so I decided to make bags!

To what do you attribute your success? To my sense of sight and hearing. I have used these senses to continually observe everyone I encounter, especially those near me.

My husband has been a great mentor, supporter, and critic and has eased me into the “trial and error” learning method!

My observations of others or things provides me guidance and inspiration, which I treasure dearly.

Handmade with Love | Sonrie Bags

What has been your biggest challenge? Currently, balancing time.

There are two things I have a passion for right now, being a preschool teacher and being involved in intricate projects.

The object is to integrate both one day!

What has been your greatest accomplishment? Going forward with this small business!

I grew up in a family that always ended up having the same conversation during family gatherings like, “We should open up a small restaurant, and you can handle this, and your uncle can handle that, and I can be in charge of that!” He said, she said, we all said!

I watered my thoughts and fears for too long, and I ultimately reminded myself that I can’t fail, if I don’t even try. So here I am, trying to go forward, day by day.

 In a one-person business operation, I believe understanding what satisfies you is the key. You will go as far as you want, not can.” – Emma Grigsby, Sonrie Bags

How do you define success as a business owner?  In a one-person business operation, I believe understanding what satisfies you is the key. You will go as far as you want, not can.

If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be? I read this somewhere not too long ago, “you are not the first, nor will you be the last person to do this” so fear nothing, and learn from everything and everyone!

“I find company with the material I use, the process from start to finish” – Emma Grigsby | Raw Material – Sonrie Bags

Is the artistic life lonely? It isn’t for me.

I find company with the material I use, the process from start to finish, and lastly, through the conversations I have about my work with others!

What is your dream project? Ideas and thoughts change, but as of this moment, I would like to be part of a project where individuals who own a garage in the city of Chicago are asked kindly to paint their garage door or allow someone to paint it for them!

Garage doors = White canvas!

Why do you do what you do? I’m an observer of nature, so like nature, I thrive to grow and change over time.

I could just be a preschool teacher or just an artist who makes handmade bags, but I choose not to be. Today, I am both, but in a few years, I want to build on what I’m doing now and do more.

I may be filling a void, but I don’t think so. I’m consciously following what I want to do, and I’ve been doing this for the past 15 years.

“O” Bag – Cosmetic Bag | Sonrie Bags

Sonríe Bags is currently designing cosmetic bags and is taking in special custom orders for the following bags: Clutches Shopping Bags, Laptop, and Tablet Cases. || Contact them today to start making your ideal bag custom-made just for you.

You can learn more about Emma, her work, and order a custom bag on her site and Instagram

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