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New York Accessories Magazine Feature izzi bag

How I Did It

Anne Agoren, owner of UK / NYC based izzi Bag, shows how to build a brand over Twitter. Lauren Parker finds that life is indeed tweet.

Tweeting her way to success here’s a story a little bird told us:

izzi bag on Twitter

Out of the 17 million users on Twitter, 250,000 were nominated for the Shorty Awards—an international “Oscars” for those who live their life out loud on Twitter in 140- character blurbs. Of those 250,000 nominated, a year-old,  little-known English handbag company named izzi Bag made it to the top six in the “Brands” category—the only fashion brand nominated. izzi was up against brands like Whole Foods and ultimately lost to Sesame Street. Heard of them? Here, izzi Bag owner/designer Anne Agoren—who wisely moonlights as a social media strategist—tells Accessories her David and Goliath tale.

‘Are you listening? Because your competitors are. You need to join the conversation— because it’s going on with or without you.”

@accessoriesmag: So how did you get into the top six? Do you have 86,000 followers like Sesame Street? Or 4.7  million followers like Ashton Kutcher?

@izzibag: I have 2,000 followers and was nominated by one of them. You aren’t allowed to nominate yourself.  Actually, I did lose some points after showing someone via Twitter how to nominate me since he was having trouble and asked for help.

AM: You only have 2,000 followers?

AA: That’s one of the biggest misnomers for brand promotion. More is not better. It’s  about quality, not quantity. I have 2,000 of the right followers. They spread my word to their followers. There are lots of sites where you can buy 50,000 followers but they’re not relevant to your brand. Don’t do it. You’ll start getting spam and your important—and legitimate—followers will stop following you. Protect your brand reputation.

AM: How do you get started using Twitter?

AA: My techie husband pushed me into it to help build my budding brand. I was so resistant to Twitter—saying I didn’t understand it, that I didn’t have enough time, and so on. Now I’m a Twitter addict. I use it to promote my blog (, to talk about things that are happening to me, and to strategically promote the brand. I realized the power of Twitter early on—I ran a Twitter competition where the first 10 people who went to one of my retailers on Bond Street got a $40 keychain. Suddenly, a rush of people went to that store. It was apparent it was working.

AM: Did you launch your brand and tweet about it simultaneously?

AA: I launched izzi Bag with no customers, no retailers, no e-tailers. So I used Twitter and the blog to find those small stores that I wouldn’t even know about. The goal was to get retailers talking about us. To build that buzz.

AM: Do you think that too many brands don’t take Twitter seriously enough?

AA: You need to join the conversation—because it’s going on without you. The most important thing I say to companies is  ‘Are you listening?’ Because if you’re not, your competitors are. On Twitter, you can read every tweet that mentions your brand—good and bad—and respond if you want. It’s important to join the conversation.

Bag Lady - Anne of izzi bag

AM: What do you tweet about?

AA: I come here a lot so I write about my life as an English person in New York. I write about the journey of building izzi  Bag. Yes I’m a brand but I’m also human. People want to relate to you. It makes them want to buy your product.

AM: Do you use Twitter to show your bags?
AA: I use Twitpic to upload images, but often I link a Twitter entry to my blog so people can see more there. There are so many tools that are all free, from Twitpic to Tweetdeck, which helps you manage Twitter better.

AM: Do you tweet all day?

AA: No, but my followers are passionate! When I slow down, they start with the ‘Where’s izzi Bag?’ ‘Did something happen to izzi Bag?’ They miss me! I’d say 60% of my tweets are relevant to my brand. The rest are relevant to other people — recommendations of things to check out, or I pass along information I read on Twitter.

AM: Ah, so you’re a re-tweeter?
AA: In many cases, yes. You can retweet (i.e. RT) something that one of your followers post. It’s good will and keeps the conversation going.

AM: Did building buzz on Twitter in the U.S. and UK give you immediate international cred?

AA: I was able to simultaneously connect with retailers worldwide—all for free, and all with the power of social media.

AM: Has Twitter gotten you free publicity?

AA: The Australian news show equivalent of “60 Minutes” found me on Twitter. They sent a crew to New York and filmed me for a day-long documentary. Later, they flew the reporters back to New York to get additional footage because they wanted to extend the segment! That publicity didn’t cost me one cent. And although it aired in Australia, I was able to post it on my blog and tweet about it, and still get local (and worldwide) exposure. Again, for free. Take a look at the video SundayNight Live.

AM: How does a brand prevent a tweeter from posing as them and saying something bad?
AA: It’s important to control the conversation. You can be verified by Twitter (celebrities do it), and you’ll get a blue check next to your brand’s name/avatar. That way the Twitter community knows it’s authentically you.

AM: But it must be a little bit tempting to bash your competition on Twitter…

AA: Never do that! If you report another company for spam, for example, the Twitter police will shut them down while they investigate, so you really must follow business ethics. I will unfollow people if they don’t “keep it clean.” That’s my one rule.

AM: What about companies who say they don’t have time to tweet? Or skimp on the resources to hire someone who can?

AA: Social media should not replace your existing business structure, but it must be integrated with what you have in place. Just as a brand has a PR, branding and advertising budget, it must have a social media budget.

AM: What if the company owner, or designer doesn’t want to tweet personally?
AA: The person doing the tweeting or blogging must have a passion and understanding of the brand and its objective. They should write in the “voice” of the brand.

AM: What are some great Twitter branding anectodes?
AA: There were some people in the Empire State building tweeting that it was so hot and they wished they had ice cream, but they were too busy to run out and get some. An ice cream truck picked up the conversation on Twitter and sent over a truck to give them free ice cream! The story got picked up on the international news. You can’t buy that sort of publicity!

AM: So what were the Shorty Awards like?

AA: First of all, I pulled a Diva moment and while walking the Red Carpet I refused to be photographed with some of the puppets from Sesame Street. Then they beat me!

June 2010 – Accessories Magazine

Shorty Awards Diva Fit - No Sesame Street Here!

Mirror, Mirror: Summer’s hot accessories come in Lucite

Accessories Council invited  Elizabeth Wellingotn to talk  to some of our members about  what is hot for the summer in the world of accessories and here is what she had to say:

Article written By Elizabeth Wellington, Fashion Columnist for the Philladelphia Inquirer.

From Prada heels to Chanel bags, it’s time to welcome Lucite back as a see-through sensation. Whether you go designer or costume, the transparent accessories are clearly the statement pieces of the season.

There’s John Wind, chief executive officer of Aston-based Maximal Art, who says he is “obsessed” with it. For spring, he fashioned the clear resin into ropes of flowers and butterflies on bold chain-link necklaces. R.J. Graziano, of Home Shopping Network fame, tinted his pearl-shaped earrings with soft blues and peach for a lovely icy effect. And then there’s Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Alexis Bittar, jewelry’s modern-day Lucite king. His elegantly carved bangles are available in pastels as well as primary shades.

I’m not immune to the Lucite love, having recently purchased a ring courtesy of Robert Rose.

But the ultimate stamp of approval comes from our best girlfriends: Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, who will be wearing the clear jewels – as well as clothes by Prada, Venexiana, and of course, Oscar de la Renta - in Sex and the City 2, debuting in theaters Thursday. Lucite bangles and long necklaces will be effortlessly mixed into the girls’ wardrobes, and I have it on good authority that Kim Cattrall will be wearing Lucite by New York-based jewelry designer Kenneth J. Lane in her appearances promoting the movie.

“It can be worn with anything, with any color, and any time of year,” said Lane, whose Lucite pieces are sold at stores including Anthropologie. “It can be worn in the winter on black and in the summer on white. I just love mixing it with baroque pearls and chains. The beauty is you can wear a lot of it and not look overdone.”

So how did the pretty plastic take over the jewelry world?

Known scientifically as polymethyl methacrylate, the synthetic polymer was developed in the late 1920s and marketed by Rohm & Haas in 1933 as Plexiglas; around the same time DuPont developed a similar product that it named Lucite, which became the more popular name in the 1950s. (Since then, it’s been sold under many trade names including Polycast and Oroglass, but people often refer to any clear plastic as Lucite.) The clear polymer made for a wonderful ingredient in car hood ornaments and was also used in furniture and china.

But it is Lucite’s appearance and durability that make it perfect in the jewelry world. After designers such as Cartier started mixing glass with diamonds in the 1920s for particularly rich-looking brooches and chains, artists picked up on Lucite, and its opaque cousin Bakelite, because it had the same effect but was shatterproof, Lane said.

Actress and fashion icon Gloria Swanson used to wear “those stretch Cartier bracelets, and I did a version that was much bigger and used Lucite,” he said of the early-1960s pieces that helped start his career.

Then Lucite and Bakelite became part of fashion’s big-bigger-and-biggest bauble obsession of the 1970s, when use of costume jewelry was at its height. The 1980s became more about the real thing – the precursor to early-’90s minimalism and then early-millennium bling.

Bittar, who started selling hand-carved Lucite on the streets of New York in the early ’90s, gave the transparent accessory its modern comeback. Once he started selling to Barneys, the collection grew as fashionistas and fashion directors noticed how the pieces added oomph to their magazine spreads.

“It was a slow movement,” said Liz Scarlett of Scarlett Alley in Old City, which has been carrying Bittar’s work since the 1990s. “It’s retro-modern.”

But it wasn’t until two years ago, Scarlett said, that she noticed an increase in Lucite sales as other designers started easing the polymer back into collections.

Michael Kors showed an oversize beaded necklace for his spring 2010 collection in February. And R.J. Graziano’s icy Lucite grouping does well on HSN. (When I mentioned to a girlfriend that I was writing this column, she said it took all her willpower not to mortgage her house for the costume jewels.)

Philadelphia’s own Gary Rose, chief executive officer of Robert Rose, worked with department stores this year to develop a private-label clear-jewelry collection. Now Macy’s is marketing it as its Lucite collection, part of the store’s must-have looks for spring.

“I think it’s a great palate cleanser,” Rose said. “It mixes well with chains and metals, and it’s the perfect accessory for a strong pastel color story.”

Lucite for Summer

Father’s Day Hot Gifts

Have you even started thinking about Father’s Day? well best you do, as it will soon be upon us June 20th and we at the Accessories Council have been scouring New York to find the best gifts around. So here are a few of our top choices.

Kenneth Cole Cuff links at $40

These cuff links are just what any dad would want especially if he is a golfer, The best thing about this gift is that everyday that he wears them he can look at them and think  of you. They are gorgeous  by Kenneth Cole and a bargain at only $40 go to Kenneth Cole‘s website for stockists.

CK reversible Belt at only $45

If you have a little bit more money to spend how about this lovely belt by CK comes in Black leather and a steal at $45, what is more it is reversible.

A/X Armani Exchange Aviator Sun Glasses $65

I think these super Sun Glasses by A/X have to be my favorites, I know my dad will look uber chic in these and at only $65 I think they are an absolute steal. They are available online or for a list of stockists check the website Armani Exchange

Olympus FE-47 Digital camera, $119.99

Our top priced gift is the Olympus FE-47 Digital Camera, priced at $119.99 and I know my dad would love to have an easy to use camera. Capturing all those precious moments forever. For a list of stockist’s go the Olympus Website.

Mother’s Day “Tweet This! with Robert Verdi”

On May 4, Robert Verdi in conjunction with us here at the Accessories Council Tweeted Live at his Luxe Laboratory with 30-40 in-demand fashion, beauty and lifestyle bloggers to let the world in on what was hot for Mother’s Day. Robert was of course life and soul of the party and entertained us all with his funny stories whilst informing all the bloggers  with his how-tos on Mother’s Day Gifting and his must-haves for every type of Mom.

Twitter Party at Robert Verdi

Just some of the bloggers included our very own Accessories Council member Anne Agoren of izzi bag and as we all know that she was nominated for a ‘Shorty Award’ and reached the final 6 out of 250,000 nominees. Other bloggers included Lucky, Seventeen and  Cosmo magazines alongside Second City Style, Diva Moms,Fashion Pulse Daily and Aly Walansky.

Top New York Bloggers

Some of the products that were reviewed included the Brelli, a beautiful Umbrella which is made of 100% bio degradable parts, so not only is it uber-stylish but it is great for the earth too. Made from Bamboo, cotton and clear plastic so you can feel good about the long term effects on the environment by carrying this stylish Umbrella.

Robert looking Uber Stylish with the Brelli

Robert had his good friend Rebecca Cole there with her book, Paradise Found, and she entertained us all with her witty stories of travelling with Robert. You had to be there to understand the humour, but she made us all laugh at how Robert refuses to stand in line at airports. Rebecca told everyone how mother’s do not always want a bunch of flowers which will die in a week. It is more practical to buy mom a plant for the garden, which will grow year after year and more importantly plant it for her.

Rebecca Cole - Paradise Found

One of the gifts Robert talked about was the Clipa, this is for mom’s on the go, an instant handbag hanger. Honestly believe me the Clipa will extend the life of your handbag as it prevents it from sitting on the floor. With over a dozen finishes to choose from and you can hang it on your handbag when not in use which also means you are not routing around looking for it when needed. They are really sturdy and designed to hold the heaviest of handbags.

The Ultimate Handbag Saver - The Clipa

Marimekko, the internationally renowned Finish Design house brings it’s famous floral motif to Avon’s limited edition Crusade Tote. This gift has a double duty not only can you carry your belongings but also give to a worthy charity as 100% of the net profits from the sale of each bag is donated to Avon’s breast cancer crusade.

100% net profit donated to Avon's breast cancer crusade

Other brands that were talked about on the night were Ginger & Liz nail varnish, worn by many celebs, Banana Republic Sunglasses, Anne Klein Watch,  Skagen Bracelet which was so chic.

Everyone had a wonderful evening and it was great to hear that everyone agreed it was going to be a difficult decision in what to buy our mom’s for Mother’s day. I think my mom got almost one of everything!

Annual ACE Awards 2009

April 2010

The Accessories Council hosted the 13th Annual ACE Awards honoring individuals and companies who have furthered the awareness and use of accessories.  Annually, the ACE Awards are presented to designers, brands, retailers, celebrities and media who have helped to enhance sales and promote accessories at the consumer level.

Honorees included Burberry-Brand of the Year; Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta- Designer of the Year; Lady Gaga- Stylemaker Award; Diane Von Furstenberg- Accessory Visionary Award; Barbie-Fashion Icon; Fred Allard of Nine West-Influencer Award; Blake Mycoskie of Tom’s Shoes-Humanitarian Award; of the Year; Gilt Groupe-Retail Innovation; Hal Rubenstein, Fashion Director of InStyle -Marylou Luther Award for Fashion Journalism; and V Magazine-Magazine of the Year.

Guests and presenters included Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone, Calvin Klein, Betsey Johnson, Nina Garcia, Molly Sims, Erin Wasson, Alexander Wang, Glenda Bailey, Christian Siriano, Steven Kolb, Agyness Deyn, Hilary Rhoda, Daisy Lowe, Hamish Bowles, Eric Daman (Costume Designer for Gossip Girl), Nicola Formichetti, Accessories Council Chairman Frank Zambrelli and Accessories Council President Karen Giberson

KEZA means Beautiful in Kinyarwanda

KEZA means ‘Beautiful’ in Kinyawanda, the native tongue of Rwanda, where KEZA was born. Our President of the Accessories Council met with them this week and  they sent some of their jewelry over for us to take a look at. I am posting some of the pictures below but here is their story.

KEZA JewelryKEZA us an ethically driven couture fashion label and business development firm. They develop 100% African owned and operated fashion businesses. KEZA sales enable businesses to earn an income that affords them school fees, health care, food, water, shelter and a path to dignity.

Paper Based Products

KEZA spent four years in Kigali, Rwanda creating the business and developed solid, replicable systems for the production of manuals, assembly lines, standardized material procedures etc.They learned to operate in a way that left as little of their American footprint in their work as possible.

100% African Owned

The fashion industry is a $298 billion per year market in the US alone and has been extremely resilient even through the recession. Westerners will always want to look and feel good. It’s part of the fabric of our society, on the other side of the world there are thousands of entrepreneurs searching for a viable business that will sustain their families. KEZA unites these two worlds.

$2000 provides income for 50 women and their families

Although Africa is known primarily for disease and poverty it is certainly not the full scope of the continent. KEZA believe that if they can showcase her beauty and excellence they might be able to change the expectations of their people. KEZA teaches their African partners to run their own businesses. They help them develop to the point of profitability, not just sustainability. They teach them how to sell locally and regionally and now internationally.

KEZA is a For-profit social venture

KEZA is a For-profit social venture

KEZA say that products are priced according to their international market value, not just what they can get away with purchasing them for. This price is far greater than what Fair Trade systems would require them to pay.

100% Paper Based

KEZA is a for profit social venture and when needed their foundation provides funding for school fees for the the children and family health care in order to create an environment conducive for doing business. When you give to the foundation, 100% of the funds go directly yo their partners.

What a wonderful story and we are really proud to be show casing their products. Take a look at their website http://KEZA.COM

A little help for Mother’s Day May 9th

The modern Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in May, though also in March, as a day to honor mother’s and motherhood. In the United States it was nationally recognized as a holiday in 1914 after a campaign by Anna Jarvis. In some countries, it follows the old traditions of Mothering Sunday. So if you have not decided what to get for your MOM then let us help you along the way.

Sprout Eco Friendly Bio-Degradable Watch

The Sprout Eco  friendly bio- degradable watch are lead and phthalate free.  Sprout™ watches use only Mercury Free batteries so for anyone feeling like being ‘Green’ this is a wonderful product. They come is so many colours so take a look at their website retails at $30 and is available at

Clipa Ring

How cool is this Handbag Clipa Ring, no longer have you got to put your handbag or purse on the floor in a bar or restaurant you can hang it right under the table where you are sitting. It is available in Silvertone or in Limited Edition Pink for Breast Cancer. When not in use it can just hang on your handle of your bag so that it is always there when you need it.The retail price point starts at $19.99 and available at

If your MOM is a jewelry fiend then how about this really pretty bracelet by Maxima, I have to say if my family are reading our blog then please take note you guys know what my name begins with.

John Wind initial Pom Pom braceletThis lovely bracelet retails at $80 and is available at

Of course if you like cozy and cutie jewelry then how about these beautiful necklaces from Alex Woo, I think the little Teddy Bear is so cool and if I had a little baby then would love to have this gift (Obviously Hubby would be buying) but they are super in either Silver or Gold or even with diamonds, so what do you think?

Alex Woo Jewelry

Necklaces by Alex Woo retail price starts at $168 and they are available at Henri Bendels or Bloomingdales.

Avon ToteThis Flowery Tote is really bright and spring looking is designed and produced by Finnish Brand Marrimekko and the most amazing thing is that AVON is donating 100% of the proceeds to Breast Cancer so at only $10 this is a steal buy just go to

Sock - a - bye- BabyAre these a lovely gift or what? soft socks for mom and baby they are divine, Soothe and comfort tired sole. great to use at home, hospitals, airplanes and hotel rooms. non-binding and perfectly plush with slip-free tread and retail at $39.95 from the Foot Petals and can be found at

MAXX NYC Wristlet purse

And finally how about this glazed faux wristlet purse the lining is really funky it is Zebra stripped, retailing at only $18 available in lots of bright summery colours and I am sure any MOM would find an occasion to use them. Go to

So I hope that we have given you some ideas on what to get MOM for Mother’s day, make sure that she feels special and remember she is one in a million !