Voyage Chicago Interview

Meet Beth Swanson of Phomaz Handbags

Today we’d like to introduce you to Beth Swanson.

Beth, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Deerfield, IL., located on the North Shore of Chicago. I wasn’t a little girl who dreamed of designing and never attended school for fashion. Having spent over 20 years in marketing and advertising, I found myself needing a new purpose at 42, after having lost both my parents.

Always, having a love of fashion and music, I set out to create something truly original. Fashion has always been a way to express myself and stand out from the rest. If I’m going to an event, and know most of the women will be wearing black, I want to be the only one in purple.”

The uniqueness of Phomaz Handbags has already been noticed by major fashion experts. Zip Zone France invited Phomaz to attend their show at The Louvre during Paris Fashion Week. Synergy Events invited Phomaz to walk the runway simultaneously at Boston Fashion Week, Phomaz has been featured in British Vogue, including Vogue100, for 3 issues. Most recently, the handbags walked the runway at Chicago’s Fashion Week and have been seen a couple times on Fox News and morning show.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s been a winding road. There is no handbook to follow in this industry. Somehow I managed to get the bags issued a design patent by the government and to learn the process from design to production and manufacturing. Most time is spent trying to get awareness and the product noticed and sold. Retail is on the decline so I have been selling the bags online. They are in a few select stores in Chicago and London.

Chicago doesn’t currently have an established official fashion week, so I am working with Tony Long of FashionBar Chicago, to change that.

Phomaz Handbags – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The bags are a perfect fusion of music, art, and fashion. They pair well with every style, from streetwear to couture. That’s what makes Phomaz Handbags so unique. The fact the bags are manufactured in Chicago also gives me a great sense of pride.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’m most proud, The “Judee Bag” appeared in Vogue 100. This bag was named after my mother and Vogue 100 is one of the magazine’s most coveted issues in history, as the Dutchess made her first magazine cover. My mom was my best friend and she is my inspiration for everything I do. I design based on her likes too.


  • The current styles (including shoulder bag, clutch, and crossbody) range from $200-$300

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