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Branching Out

Townsend Leather adds handbags to product line

November 22, 2009
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Townsend Leather, known for its high-end luxury leather used in airplanes and in boats, has expanded to manufacture a handbag line that is, in part, inspired by an area cancer victim.

The company has always been asked why it doesn't make handbags, owner Terry Kucel said. Branching out into the handbag market is part of the company's long-term goal of growing and becoming a consumer goods company, he said.

"We want to build a brand and grow to have millions of customers rather than thousands," Kucel said. "We were always asked, 'why don't you make handbags?' This is a response to that request."

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Alison Maloney, marketing coordinator for Townsend Leather of Johnstown, shows one of the many custom handbags being marketed by Townsend at the company’s offices Tuesday.

The bags come in two lines: the Angel collection and the Paradise collection. The Angel collection is designed and inspired by former Gloversville resident Terry Brindle. Brindle was an ovarian and breast cancer patient who died Sept. 30 after battling cancer for six years.

Townsend Marketing Coordinator Alison Maloney said Brindle designed an embossed leather tag that is attached to each bag in the Angel line. The bags in the collection also feature a pink breast cancer ribbon on the side. Each bag in the Angel collection has the quote, "Supporting a future that holds no place for cancer," on the inside of it, Maloney said.

Maloney said the Angel line has been well received, especially locally. Kucel said Brindle's contribution to the line was invaluable. Brindle designed angels in paintings, drawings and sculptures as a way to cope with her illness, he said. It made sense to use one of the designs for the Angel line, he said.

"She wanted something good to come out of all she suffered," Kucel said. "She was well respected in the community and really a very sweet woman."

On top of manufacturing and selling the handbags, Kucel said the company donates $25 from the sale of each bag to advance cancer research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where Brindle participated in a clinical trial during her treatment.

Maloney said all of the handbags are in a shoulder-bag style. The Paradise line features a patchwork style and brighter colors while the Angel line is in a more muted color scheme of browns, silvers and tans. The Terry Tote is $300 and is dark brown with a pink interior and a leaf-style accent piece. The bags range in price from about $200 to about $365.

Kucel said branching out into handbags made sense as the high-end leather market has "matured" over the years.

"It's a continual process for us," he said. "You always need to be thinking about the future and adjusting to the times."

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Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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