MCKINNEY (CBSDFW.COM) - After more than a decade as an established blogger and entrepreneur in the world of luxury fashion, Tina Craig's life has come full circle.
"It's kind of surreal," she says.
From her office in McKinney, Craig holds a leather handbag in her hands. The bright sunset pattern, inspired by her childhood in Southern California.
"That sense of joy, that sense of freedom," she recalls.
Open the flap and look inside, and printed on the lining is this phrase: Tina Craig for Gianfranco Lotti.
"This is a true blend of Italian craftsmanship with my Chinese American aesthetic," Craig explains.
It is her name, her design, on the kind of product that launched her career. Flashback to 2005. Craig found herself a new mom, newly relocated with her husband to North Texas. She and her college friend turned a mutual obsession – a love for designer handbags – into a blog: BagSnob.com.
"Eleven years ago, the word "blog" – I had no idea what it was," she says.
It really started as an online journal, where the friends reviewed the most coveted "it bag" styles, with a brutally honest tone. Readers came back for more.
"That tone resonated with people, because at the time you had your Vogue magazines, you had your newspapers, Instyle, celebrity magazines, but no one was really telling you how functional this bag was," Craig says.
BagSnob.com drew hundreds of thousands of regular readers. It also caught the eye of editors, landing Craig in the pages of British Vogue magazine.
"The article came out and it was translated into almost every Vogue in the world," Craig recalls.
Luxury brands recognized her power to influence, and called upon her for partnerships. She now sits front row at runway shows for the biggest fashion houses in the world. Over the years, Craig's blog has morphed from solely handbag reviews to include travel, beauty, living and style.
She's known as a brand ambassador: hosting events for luxury brands like Cartier jewelry.
"The authenticity of our voice struck with consumers," Craig says. Companies paid attention. "Absolutely. It was a way for them to directly communicate with their end user."
The French jeweler Nouvel Heritage reached out to her last year, and made a special necklace for her. It inspired a collection of fine jewelry, designed by Craig, is now sold at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Forty Five Ten.
While this working mom jet sets to places like Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Florence for work, she considers North Texas her home.
"I find a lot of inspiration just being here in North Texas. It's so beautiful," she says.
BagSnob.com is going strong, but Craig sees a future focused on designing as well.
"The end game – I think I'll always continue blogging. I'll always retain my passion for fashion, but having my own brand – a luxury brand that's also very accessible and that tells a story that women relates to – that's the end game for me," Craig says.
She says she is often approached by young people wishing to start their own blogs, asking for her advice.
"If you want people to follow you, you have to develop your own voice. There are a lot of voices out there, but I always say, there's enough room for another voice. There's always room for a new voice. A fresh voice," Craig says.
She encourages them to pursue their passions. In the meantime, Craig is focused on her own passion -- Tina Craig for Gianfranco Lotti. Her nine-piece collection of brightly-colored handbags and interchangeable straps launched this week, exclusively on this retail website.
"It feels really exciting. It feels full circle," she says.
It is the next step, in her ever-evolving, ever-innovative, ever-stylish career.
"I'm really lucky that I've been able to turn my passion into a full-thriving business. I love helping other women and men find their own voice and do the same," Craig says.
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