December 04, 2011 | by Christian Collins
The following is taken from a Collins of Texas tri-fold brochure about the history and status of the company at the time it was printed.
The famous Collins of Texas trademark and Enid Collins signature are the hallmarks of distinction for what has become the most exciting fashion accessory in America. The jeweled totes and box bags which have acquired an international clientele are produced right here in the Hill Country of Texas--at the original plant in Medina and the newest plant in Fredericksburg.
Enid Collins has been designing handbags for 22 years for the firm, Collins of Texas, which she and her husband, Frederic Collins who is now president and general manager, founded after moving to a Texas Hill Country Ranch immediately following World War II. Both were craftsmen. Enid had studied costume design while working for a fine arts degree at Texas Woman's University. Frederic was an engineering draftsman whose hobby was animal sculpture.
Combining their talents, they made some leather handbags, all hand-dyed and stitched, with ornamental brass closures sculptured by Frederic. The living room of their ranch house soon became a leather workshop as they filled special orders for friends and supplied the small shops at nearby dude ranches.
A dress-designer friend suggested that they submit samples to the handbag buyer at Neiman-Marcus. They did--and to their great delight an order for $500 worth of handbags and matching belts followed. This was the beginning of Collins of Texas.
Soon the two of them could not fill all the orders, so additional workers were hired and trained, one at a time. More working space was require, so they rented a workshop in Medina, a tiny village of about 350 people. As the business grew, Frederic and Enid became more specialized in their individual contributions to it.
Enid designed handbags and belts and trained workers. Frederic's engineering training enabled him to find better and faster methods of production. He also handled business details while Enid worked on advertising brochures and sales promotion. It was an effective working partnership which continues to this day, although they are no longer married.
The leather handbags which they made were a seasonal item, and it was the search for styles which would enable their operation to keep busy all year around that led to Enid's creation of the decorated totes and wooden box bags that were to set fashion trends in casual handbags.
The first leather-trimmed totes were made of canvas and burlap with hand-wrought brass ornaments. Then Enid conceived the idea for a decorated fabric tote, and an artist friend showed her how to print with the silk screen process. The designs were embellished with jewels and sequins, and more glitter was added as it became apparent that the more ornamentation, the more sales appeal.
The designs all had names,--each told a story--each had something special or personal that the prospective customer could relate to. Some of Enid's classic designs are "Money Tree," "Road Runner," "Night Owl," "Carriage Trade," "Cable Car," "Sea Garden," "Love," and many more. There are currently 100 designs in production in the two Collins of Texas factories.
As the business grew, the need for a less expensive item became apparent, and Enid came up with the idea for a handbag made out of a wooden box, painted and jeweled. Acceptance grew slowly for such an original concept of fashion accessory. When it was copied, or in the terminology of the trade, "knocked of," by a New York firm, it received the boost it needed, and the wooden box bag is now a classic. There are many imitations, but no more copies, as all Enid Collins designs are copyrighted.
Next came the box bags decorated with papier mache and matching costume jewelry. Enid Collins' latest contribution to fashion is the cocktail and evening box bag, lavishly jeweled and handled with gold leather.
The tiny workshop has grown to two factories, one in Medina and one in Fredericksburg. Combined, they employ nearly 200 people. Distribution is international, and the demand for the famous Collins of Texas handbags is growing steadily.
As a designer, Enid Collins finds travel stimulating, and her schedule of in-store promotions in major cities is a full one. She attends markets in New York, as well as Dallas, where the National Sales Office is located. She makes her home in San Antonio and divides her time between the plants in Medina and Fredericksburg.
The Collins' daughter, Cynthia, who was the "Collins Girl" of a national advertising program of several seasons past, is married to Hector Pedregon, manager of the new Fredericksburg plant. They have a young son, David Christopher. The Collins' son, George Philip, is now serving in the U. S. Marines.
Enid Collins, Frederic Collins, and all of the members of the organization of Collins of Texas take special pride in every Collins handbag that leaves the factory. A Collins Original is made by people who care! It is truly America's most distinctive handbag!