In this episode of Women in Retail Talks, Women in Retail Leadership Circle Senior Content Strategist Ashley Chiaradio chats with Rachael Riedinger, founder, owner and designer of Neva Opet, a handsewn leather bags and goods retailer with a keen focus on transparency, sustainability and “slow fashion.” Listen in as Riedinger discusses how she became an accidental entrepreneur when her weekend sewing hobby turned into a business after she created her first leather bag. She talks about the challenges and successes she experienced when starting the business, including Neva Opet’s sales-based organic growth without the traditional financial aid of investors or loans.

Rachael Riedinger, Founder, Owner and Designer, Neva Opet

Rachael Riedinger, Founder, Owner and Designer, Neva Opet

After working with a variety of large and small retailers, Riedinger discovered that she loves working with boutique sellers because of the open and personal communication with other entrepreneurs and business owners like herself. She explains what the term “slow fashion” means, why it’s become a larger issue in society today, and why it’s important to her personally and her business. Riedinger talks about who her mentors are, her goal to foster a support network with other female entrepreneurs in her community, and why having a network is so helpful for solo business owners. She shares her plans to expand Neva Opet, and where she sees sustainable fashion going in the future.

Rachael Riedinger is an entirely self-taught designer and leather worker. Born in Louisiana, she currently lives and works out of Atlanta after receiving her BA in Art History. Guided by a creative force at a young age, Rachael picked up sewing with the hopes of one day becoming a fashion designer. After a few unfulfilling post-college jobs, she decided she needed a creative outlet and opted to switch fabric for leather. After falling in love with the character of leather and the bag making process, Rachael took her hobby full-time during the fall of 2014. Rachael and team member Kelly sew and finish each and every item that leaves the studio doors. She aims to bring every woman a well-made bag that lasts through years and trends.

Neva Opet offers original, handmade bags and accessories crafted by hand in small batches out of Atlanta. It believes in simplicity of design and excellent craftsmanship. The overall aesthetics of the line emphasize subdued colors and shapes, with a minimal and modern aesthetic to produce pieces that can be carried anywhere. Each item is designed to grow in character with age and wear. Beat it up and wear it forever!

The name of the line comes from family and history: Rachael’s great-grandmother Neva and the ancient Egyptian Opet Festival, an event of regeneration for the King and the gods. The name is a nod to Rachael’s love of art history. If she weren’t making bags she would have become an Egyptologist.

Date: November 1, 2019

Credits: Rachael Riedinger