Laura Vogel is the founder of Vogelle, an international designer accessories brand. Vogel’s initial exposure to the fashion industry came from her experience with modeling. At the age of 13, an agent scouted her and she signed with Wilhelmina Denver shortly after. Modeling in places including Denver, Los Angeles, Aspen, Mexico City, Veracruz, Monterrey and more grew her experience in the fashion world. From there, her passion for the business side of the industry grew.
Vogel studied finance and marketing at the Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder. Her international exposure while attending CU prepared her to pursue her dream of having a business of her own. While traveling, Vogel uncovered new people, trends, art, food and fashion that ultimately helped lead her to her dream.
A huge source of inspiration for Vogel came from entrepreneurs she worked alongside within the tech world during various internships. She learned through persistence and dedication she could make her dreams a reality. “These people believed so deeply in their business and their ideas and it inspired me to never give up on my entrepreneurial hopes and dreams,” explained Vogel.
303 Magazine spoke with Vogel about those dreams, Italian leather manufacturers, her travels around the world and more.
303 Magazine: In the Spring of 2019, you lived in Milan, Italy. What inspired you to travel?
Laura Vogel: Ever since living in Mexico City for modeling, I have developed a deep love for travel. If I never took that opportunity, as nerve-wracking as it was, I think my life would have been very different. I visited Milan on a trip with CU Boulder during my freshman year of college and became obsessed with the city. I feel that Europe is so ahead of us when it comes to fashion trends and style. For example, the women dress with a different level of confidence and flare. In addition, in Europe, I feel fashion is not only a creative outlet but a true art statement. I ultimately decided to spend my semester abroad in Milan, Italy. If it wasn’t for this decision, I would never have had the opportunity to create Vogelle.
303: While there, you discovered a passion to start your own international fashion brand. How did the people, places, culture, etc. influence this decision?
LV: It’s hard not to be inspired in a place like Italy. When I lived there art constantly surrounded me. I would walk by pristine sculptures, stunning churches, gorgeous boutiques and beautiful people. Moreover, the women in Italy take fashion to a very heightened level. Everything about Italy is an art form in my eyes. The beautiful people zipping by on their Vespas, the way the mouth-watering food is presented at restaurants, the smell of cigarette smoke on the streets, the church bells ringing in the morning and the gorgeous Italian accents. It doesn’t get much better than that.
There are also so many leather accessory stores throughout Italy. This is what inspired me to explore the possibility of starting a handbag business. Italy is known worldwide for its high-quality leather products. After surrounding myself to this for months, I figured I may as well give it a shot and try to find a manufacturer.
It was a combination of the inspiring and immensely creative atmosphere of Italy, and my accessibility to the highest quality leather in the world that pushed me to create Vogelle.
303: Once you got back to Colorado, what did the process look like to create your business, Vogelle? When was it established?
LV: I met my manufacturer in Milan only days before I was scheduled to fly back to Denver. I already had my ideal handbag design in mind from the minimalistic style that I had seen throughout Europe. Once I arrived back home in Colorado, I immediately ordered cheap, and similar shoulder bags from Amazon and ASOS to start my design process.
I then drew sketches of my bag design with exact measurements and mailed them to my manufacturer in Milan. We would message each other on WhatsApp and discuss the design, edits and construction logistics. From there, he made the first prototype and mailed it to my house in Boulder. I then made edits to the prototype and sent him photos of things I wanted to change. Within about four weeks, I had the second prototype which became the final shoulder bag design for the Vogelle original collection.
I actually filed Vogelle LLC as a legal business in Colorado back in May of 2019. This was when I was still in Italy and before I met my leather manufacturer. I felt that Vogelle was such a great name for a fashion brand, so I went ahead and filed my business under that name.
303: Can you tell us what consumers can expect when shopping Vogelle products?
LV: I spent so much time looking for the right handbag manufacturer in Italy who would provide the highest quality products. I am confident this shows in every purchase. Each bag is completely handmade by my manufacturer in Milan and his very small team of leather artisans. It takes over a month to complete an order of handbags because they are so dedicated to their craft and take their time with each piece. My goal with Vogelle was to create very high-quality handbag pieces while keeping the price point affordable for most.
I source all of my packaging from a company in Longmont, Colorado, and they use completely eco-friendly and recycled materials. The packaging was curated to capture the rustic and handmade feel you get when you shop in most Italian stores.
303: What was the hardest part of starting your own business?
LV: It was extremely hard to start Vogelle during my senior year at CU Boulder. I was taking difficult finance courses and working about 25-30 hours per week at Nordstrom. I had picked up hours at work because I completely self-funded the entire business. Because of the time difference, I would wake up early to talk to my manufacturer in Milan. I’m so proud of myself for taking this risk and starting an international fashion brand.
303: Why do you love doing what you do?
LV: I feel so lucky to wake up every day and be my own boss. I have been able to spend the entire quarantine pouring my heart and soul into the creative and logistical sides of Vogelle. Furthermore, I love diving into fashion magazines every day and seeing how the creatives tell a story through their pieces. Furthermore, I enjoy being in constant communication with my manufacturing team in Italy. I also love connecting with customers all over who provide me with feedback on their Vogelle pieces. Vogelle has allowed me to see the real potential that I have as a female business owner. I could not be more excited to see how this business continues to grow.
303: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
LV: While I was starting this business I always created small vision boards. I love scrolling through Tumblr and Pinterest and finding photos that inspire or resonate with the life I want to live one day. Moreover, they remind me every day of why I do what I do — and the goals I work towards.
I talk to so many people who have amazing and unique ideas but are afraid to actually start. You will never move forward if you never try or ask. Take that risk because you will always wonder if you don’t give it a shot!
303: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s fashion scene?
LV: There are many talented people in this city who solidify Denver’s fashion scene. Denver is very diverse and perfects its high fashionability while remaining a key player in the athletic apparel world. New boutiques, modern hotels and beautiful restaurants are giving the city a new breath of life. I have lived in Denver my whole life and love seeing it develop into this creative melting pot it is now. Moreover, I think there is much to experiment with here and so much talent to uncover. I am beyond excited to grow this Italian handbag brand alongside other Denver creatives.
All photography by Amanda L Tromp