Cinda b shines on
By Linda Lipp | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
Fort Wayne’s “other” handbag manufacturer - the one that actually still makes its products here - didn’t attract anywhere near the number of people for its semiannual outlet sale that attended the Vera Bradley sale at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum during the same week.
But cinda b’s fans are just as enthusiastic, and they packed the cinda b offices at 1630 Progress Road looking for bargains.
“We had a record crowd and we’re moving ahead,” said Bob Hinty, owner of Hentz Manufacturing, which makes the bags in a facility attached to the offices. Hinty is also co-owner of cinda b.
The date of the spring outlet sale was shifted this year - not to coincide with Vera Bradley’s much larger event, which draws visitors from across the U.S. - but to make way for new products, Hinty said.
Hentz currently employs about 80 people making the cinda b bags as well as other sewn products. Hinty hopes to expand that employment by another 50 to 75 workers by the end of the year as cinda b continues to grow and Hentz picks up other contracts and projects.
Cinda b takes its name from its founder, Cinda Boomershine, an interior designer who launched the business in 2004. The guest bedroom in her Atlanta home was the headquarters, the basement was the design center and the garage was the warehouse.
The bags originally were made by a contract manufacturer in California, but that company couldn’t keep up with the demand so but Boomershine switched to Hinty’s company, which had previously done manufacturing for Vera Bradley.
All of Vera Bradley’s bags are now made overseas.
Travel bags are cinda b’s staple and are made of a sturdy poly nylon in bright solid colors with patterns used mostly as accents.
The company plans to introduce a new fabric this summer, for its fall collection, in a soft heather gray.
“It’s a little bit dressier. It’s got a different look and feel. It’s really sophisticated. We think it will appeal to current customers and draw in new customers. A woman who doesn’t necessarily want a pattern, this will appeal to her,” Boomershine said.
A few months down the road, the company also is hoping to introduce five to seven new handbag designs that will complement its travel bags, Hinty said, as well as accessory items.
Cinda b’s products are sold through about 1,000 specialty retailers, as well as online. It’s the internet that currently is driving a lot of the growth.
“We’re always expanding. The retail world as a whole is shifting online. We’re putting additi0nal focus on the web, but still working with our store base. It’s a delicate balance, because our stores are our partners,” Boomershine said. “Consumers shop differently than a few years ago. The retail model is changing so we’re trying to keep up with the times and still really work closely with our stores and try to create the perfect balance.”
Cinda b uses a different model than Vera Bradley, where patterns have always had a set shelf life. As long as a color and product is selling, cinda b continues to offer it.
“It’s nice for our consumers, for our stores, for everybody to be able to complete your collection and not feel pressured to do it immediately,” Boomershine said.
The company is always working on new fabrics, designs and silhouettes, figuring out what the market wants and what customers are asking for.
“Because we’re made in America, the advantage is we can be quick and responsive, and we can answer those requests,” she added.
Boomershine and her family moved to California about a year ago, but she still visits Fort Wayne periodically and plans to attend the company’s fall outlet sale.