Shop Local: Karina Gaull Handbags
Choose your fabrics and patterns, and zip it good!
When the early days of the pandemic revealed an urgent need for masks, Arlington resident Karina Gaull did what many across the globe did: She dug out her old sewing machine, watched a few tutorials on YouTube and got to work making masks—in this case, for a local initiative dubbed the Million Mask Challenge.
“I got hooked because I love working with my hands,” says Gaull, who moved to the States with her husband in 2001 after the couple met and married in her native Brazil. “The minute I could sew a straight line, I said, ‘I think I can make more things with this machine.’ ”
She started with a project that’s considered a good jumping-off point for newbie sewers—zipper pouches. As a former graphic designer who has also dabbled in jewelry design and calls herself a “professional hobbyist,” she was familiar with the language of colors and patterns. Only the medium was different.
“The next thing I knew, I had at least 80 zipper pouches stacking up,” says Gaull, whose repertoire now includes wallets, wristlets, totes and makeup bags. “It was just so natural to me to be able to work in different media…but to still implement my passion for colors and textures and prints. It was like a light bulb moment.”
Gaull mainly makes custom bags and pouches for those who reach out to her through Instagram or via her website. Clients select a pattern and a primary fabric, and she takes it from there, often adding her own personal stamp to a piece by incorporating a whimsical beaded zipper pull or hand stitching. Prices range from $18 for a coin purse to $100 for her largest tote.
The most popular item is the $45 minimalist wallet. “Every woman needs a bag that fits at least her phone,” says Gaull. “It has a zipper pocket for coins and whatever. It has space for your cards. I added a wrist strap, too, so it’s kind of all-in-one. If you just want to go to the grocery store and not carry a big bag, you can put that on your wrist and you’re good to go. Very practical.”