After years of struggling to find the right bag, this Australian startup let me design my perfect one

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As part of an ongoing series, Insider Picks features products or stores poised for big things. The subject of this spotlight is an Australian startup that lets women design their own handbags from over six billion combinations called Mon Purse.

It doesn’t get much cooler than designing your own handbag. Just ask Mon Purse founder Lana Hopkins who turned a fruitless search for the perfect bag into a multi-million dollar business in just a couple years.

“I realised I spent far too many hours pounding the pavement, looking for the perfect bag,” Hopkins told Business Insider. “I wanted to solve this personal problem and I had a vision — to create an elegant, state-of-the-art bag builder, and then follow it up with high-quality bespoke creations delivered to directly to customer’s doors. So I travelled the world in 2014 looking for the best tanneries and ateliers, hand-selecting quality leathers and raw materials, and employing skilled craftsmen. I also found some great software engineers to turn my vision into reality.”

Using Mon Purse’s state-of-the-art, 3D design tool that has more than six billion combinations, anyone can now create the leather handbag of their dreams. You’re able to fully customise it — the leathers, colours, finishes, hardware, interior, and monogram — and immediately see what the final product will look like through a 3D rendering.

The company let me try its proprietary 3D design tool for the purposes of this review, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun reviewing a product. I had so many options before me, and I didn’t know where to start. I checked out Mon Purse’s Instagram feed for inspiration. I tried the tool on all of the different bag styles you’re able to customise and, finally, after much thought, decided to create my own bowler bag. I wanted this bag to be one I could use every day for work — it’s business out the outside with a grainy black leather exterior, and party on the inside with a fuchsia suede lining.

Have a look at the entire design process from start to checkout, or begin designing your own Mon Purse bag here.

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All prices are in Australian dollars.

I chose to design a Bowler Bag. You can also choose to design your own Bucket Bag, Clutch, Pouch, Shopper Bag, or Tote Bag.

Mon Purse

You can select what size Bowler Bag you want to create: mini ($399 base price) or classic ($499 base price). I went with the classic size so I could use it for work.

I'm not a big fan of fringe, but those who are can add fringing to their Bowler Bag at no extra cost.

Mon Purse

Next, you pick out what type(s) of leather or suede Mon Purse will use to create your bag as well as what colour(s) leather or suede you want. There are so many options!

Mon Purse

I debated between grainy stone leather or grainy black leather for a while, but I ultimately went with grainy black leather for the whole Bowler Bag. I kept my design pretty simple since I planned to use the bag for work, but you can choose multiple leathers and colours for something totally unique. There are even a few fun prints you can select.

Two leathers are complimentary, but additional leathers cost more.

You can design your own Mon Purse bag here.

Playing around with Mon Purse's 3D design tool and seeing what leathers and colours worked well together was a lot of fun. You're able to customise the body, sides, zipper leather, piping, handles, and long shoulder strap.

Mon Purse

Like I said earlier, though, I kept it simple and chose to make the whole Bowler Bag one colour and one type of leather.

Here's where I was more adventurous in my choice. For the suede lining colour, I picked out fuchsia.

Mon Purse

You can match your bag's suede lining to its leather colour, or choose from 29 other options. I was torn between fuchsia and pale blue, but fuchsia won in the end.

You can design your own Mon Purse bag here.

After that, you chose what colour metal hardware you want on your bag: silver, gunmetal, yellow gold, or rose gold.

Mon Purse

I choose silver to match the metal hardware on my leather jacket.

You can also opt to add metal studs to the base of your bag at no extra cost.

Mon Purse

I opted to add them to give the leather on the bottom of my bag some extra protection from wear and tear.

For additional personalisation, you can add your monogram to the body of your bag.

I also added a detachable luggage tag to my Bowler Bag for no extra cost.

Mon Purse

You can personalise the luggage tag further with up to two letters, numbers, roman numerals, or special characters. I chose a Taurus symbol to match my zodiac sign -- a cool, subtle touch to an otherwise very straightforward-looking black leather bag.

Unless you have any special requests (I didn't), you're done and ready to check out.

Mon Purse

You'll receive your bespoke creation in about four weeks.

Mon Purse

Mon Purse sends you updates on your bag while you wait. The company sent me an initial order confirmation email; it also sent me an email to let me know my bag was 'in production' and another to let me know it was ready to ship.

The finished product is something truly one-of-a-kind, and something I plan on getting a lot of use out of over the next few years.

The bag I created costs $US499. I've previously paid $500-$600 for designer purses I bought off the rack at department stores. If you're also someone who invests in their purses and has struggled to find a bag that has everything you want, there's something to be said for creating the bag of your dreams for the same price. It's actually kind of a no-brainer when put that way.

You can design your own Mon Purse bag here.

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