Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Plano vintage guru sells Texan Enid Collins purse collection through Etsy
Karol Howard says her sales reach worldwide, including Japan.
PLANO Karol Howard and George Morton share a passion for music, art and treasure hunting.
The two met in Oklahoma. They married and moved to Dallas in the late ’80s, and both have worked as pharmacists in the area.
Howard, 55, just retired, and Morton, 53, still fills prescriptions. They love to travel and to go antiquing. As the house filled up with their finds, they started selling pieces in an Etsy store called Plattermatter.
The site has an eclectic mix of vintage clothing and accessories, including an impressive batch of Enid Collins purses. Collins and her husband made purses on their ranch near Medina, Texas, in the 1950s through the 1970s. She was known for tote bags and wooden box purses decorated with lots of back-in-the-day bling.
Collins purses are highly collectible; some styles can fetch prices over $100.
“I just fell in love with her story,” Howard says. “I love sewing, and I loved how she started doing crafts in her garage with her husband in the 1960s and ’70s. I like finding out about people doing their own thing, in their own way.”
Howard’s sewing room has shelves of Collins purses — some are for sale and others are too special to part with just yet.
Other bejeweled bags await their new owners, like the boxy styles made by Gary Gails of Dallas, and Jewel Tone purses, made from kits in the style of Collins.
These Texas-born vintage purses are sought after worldwide.
“Our very first Enid Collins sale actually went to Japan,” Howard says, while packaging a purse that’s bound for England.
The couple’s Plano home is filled with unique art, and there are fabulous stories about each find. Howard says that she especially fell in love with Texas-style vintage after frequenting a small store tucked away near the Waxahachie town square called Exactly What.
The store, now closed, was owned by a fashion stylist named Erin Piper-Flowers. Piper-Flowers now lives in Richardson. I remember popping into that nook of creativity and having an Asian backpack-style purse that Piper-Flowers made from vintage fabric.
“Erin was a big inspiration for me,” Howard says. “I found my vintage home in Texas when I found her shop.”
Howard wears a stylish vintage jacket with two rhinestone butterfly brooches from her late grandmother Naomi Howard’s jewelry box. She says her mother taught her how to sew and how to appreciate classic styles at a young age.
“My earliest memories of shopping for vintage clothing and accessories were with my mom,” she says.
The Collins bags always draw comments.
“One time a lady saw me carrying a peacock-style Collins bag, which are very popular, and she told me that she loved seeing it because she owned one once, but she said that when she got out of the car and set her purse down, her parents backed over it with the car,” Howard says. We both burst into laughter despite the truly tragic Collins casualty.
“The lady said she just cried and cried.”
Howard’s Etsy site draws comments from people all over the world who remember certain purses or just like to chime in about what year a style was released.
Morton arrives home from work and weaves through the sewing room to say hello. Howard says he is the serious browser on their buying trips, while her style is more get in and get out with the goods.
“We have a lot of fun doing this,” she says.
How does she part with the purses she really loves?
“You know, it makes me happy to find them and then I enjoy them for a while, and I like being able to pass them on for others to enjoy,” she says.
See more Enid Collins bags
Check out Karol Howard’s Etsy shop: etsy.com/shop/plattermatter. Click on Enid Collins EC style.
Follow stylist Erin Piper-Flowers’ Pinterest page: pinterest.com/piperflowers.
Clare Miers is a Dallas freelance writer.
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