I am not one to attend local BIA meetings; my BBB studio is a bit off the main drag of Hespeler. However, I do belong to the association to keep abreast of developments which of late are many:  the old of many windows iconic American Standard building where they used to enamel bathtubs is about to be 'condoized' along side a new 11 story apartment building, the Fashion Museum now hangs its hat in the former post office building, a fab artisinal olive oil shop O&V,  a great vinyl record /book shop Millpond  and recently my building sold and has new owners who will open a kraft beer brewery! Hespeler is hip!

So when the BIA said they were going to hold their annual meeting and social at the Fashion Museum - current exhibition is about Canadian fashion - how could i not go?  The museum founders Jonathan and Norm have done an incredible job, both cutting their fashion teeth at the Bata Shoe museum in Toronto before moving to Hespeler.

The debate on the local parking lost out to the hordoeuves in the reception area where their fashion library/shop is also located. I noticed an elegant silver haired lady presumably doing the same.  She looked so much like my dear Oklahoma born friend Sandra Todd, I could not help starting up a conversation. Her name was Anita Davis from Little Rock Arkansas. Now what in the fashionable hay is she doing at the Hespeler BIA meeting not listening to the parking debate?   So I asked.  Well, Jonathan and Norm have an extensive shoe collection.  She for some reason needed it. They drove it down to Little Rock and Anita had just arrived the day before driving this shoe collection all the way back to Hespeler.

Perhaps she was equally surprised when I said I had visited Little Rock in 2006 - not a BIA meeting - but a meeting for vendors of the Dillard department store where I had landed a big BBB order.  It was also my first experience of cell phone culture.  I remember the head office was on the river with a big veranda-like patio where we all dispersed for a break. I thought I would chat it up with the others but all had hand to ears in deep conversation with their phones.  I chatted with the birds instead. But I digress.  Back to Anita.  Why did she need a carfull  of museum quality shoes?  But of course, to go with her collection of  museum quality purses.  Anita Davis it turns out is the founder of the Esse Purse Museum.  Devoted to the history of the handbag throughout the ages.   I believe there are 3 others worldwide like it of its kind.

All this because of the vision and initiative of Anita Davis; apparently she started collecting purses 30 years ago.  The handbag is more than just a handbag but rather a lens on the social fabric of our culture (with more variety of looks than a cell phone!)  And in creating the museum she has transformed and put a particular area of Little Rock on the map engendering a community atmosphere.  Her own artistic background as a sculptor has indeed sculpted the environs.  I learned she is also the creator of  the Bernice Garden   a sculpture garden close by to the museum.  Hespeler take note!   The next day after the meeting,  Jonathan, Norm, Anita and her assistant arrived at the my BBB studio for a tour.   And the rest I guess is bag history.  Two weeks later we shipped our first order to the Esse museum shop.   We also donated our most iconic paper like tote the maxi in tabac wax cotton to their permanent collection.  Wow.  Such an honour. Pic below is of  Esse Museum Director, Abby Olivier showing off the ebony check BBB


I wish I could've driven my order down to Little Rock but perhaps I will convince friend Sandra Todd she must meet her doppelganger in person.  And the 'ESSE' wisdom of the day is :  one never knows who one will meet at the local BIA.

Thank you Anita!!!





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