The sisters behind Schedraui are spreading the love (and more than a little style) with their luxe handbag line.
Story by Min A. Lee
When Salvadoran and Lebanese sisters Grace and Stephanie Schedraui (pronounced Che-drow-ee) came together to create the perfect bag for any woman, it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. The challenges that arise with starting an independent brand can be daunting, but it didn’t phase them. Some would think working with family has its own difficulties, but “we grew up in a home where we were encouraged to dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams,” says Grace. “We were surrounded by a very positive environment where we were always challenged to learn and serve as much as possible.” With Stephanie’s fashion degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and Grace’s background in business and franchise management, they had the perfect balance of knowledge and skills to launch Schedraui in 2012.
The sleek design of a Schedraui bag is only surpassed by the incredibly high quality leather. “In our collections, you will always see leathers with beautiful embossing and soft textures,” says Grace. Initially, the sisters sourced materials from various places around the world, but they eventually moved their production to Italy, home to some of the finest artisans in the fashion industry.
But what really makes a Schedraui bag stand out against the rest are the beautiful, positive words engraved on them. From “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” to “Love will always be the answer,” each piece holds a bit of uplifting wisdom, a nod to their father’s influence. “What changed [my father’s] life and made him take a different path than the majority was reading motivational books and positive thinking,” says Grace. “Both he and my mom, they always encouraged us to work hard for our dreams, to be givers, to leave a legacy. So we decided we wanted to give those messages back to the people around us by engraving inspirational messages on every product of our brand.”
Schedraui bags definitely command attention visually, but with the inspirational story behind the line, the bags are even more appealing. Taking it a step further, a portion of each sale goes toward charitable causes, making it easy to become lifetime supporters of the brand. “Our parents founded this NGO in El Salvador named FUNDABECAS,” says Grace. “It was created to grant scholarships to Salvadoran children, to help them realize their dreams. So when we started our brand, we decided we wanted to build the habit of ‘giving back’ from the very first year of our company by donating a percentage of our sales to this foundation.”
As the Schedraui sisters continue to grow their label, they face financial and marketing challenges typical of an independent accessories brand. “One of our biggest challenges is moving to New York, knowing no one, and having to start our brand from zero in a new market,” says Grace. But she’s confident about her product. “Once they buy one, they are hooked for life because we offer excellent quality and craftsmanship. Also, our bags are very comfortable and functional, which is why our clients always come back to us.”
So the next time you find yourself looking for a new addition to your handbag collection, you just might want to consider Schedraui, knowing that you’re purchasing more than just an accessory. As one of their engraved handles says: “Be a light to others.”
Shop Schedraui at schedraui.com or Flying Solo in New York City.