Alumni turn friendship into business

by Alissa Kasawdish, Staff Writer

San Diego State alumni Zaneta Owens and Charles Stone turned their friendship at college into a fashionable business with their handbag line, the Zaneta Owens Collection.

They met in the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi while attending SDSU. Stone studied international business and Owens studied business management and entrepreneurship. They have been applying the skills they learned in their business majors since graduating in 2011 to their careers today.

“If it weren’t for SDSU, none of this would have happened,” Stone said. “It fostered our growth and our friendship.”

Owens started designing her own handbags in 2013, and Stone wanted to get the word out and help the business grow.

“I feel like people really wanted to see something new and they are excited about a new African-American designer coming from San Diego, which is already kind of a rare thing,” Stone said.

A unique touch to each handbag is the label that reads “Made in California” on the gold Zaneta Owens logo.

“It seems like so many women are tired of seeing the same mass-produced brand whether it is Coach or Michael Kors,” Stone said. “Everyone has the same things so (Owens) wanted to design a California classic-styled handbag for the person who wanted something different, to stand out in a different way and to have something that not every person has.”

According to the Zaneta Owens Collection website, Owens’ “Made in California” label not only says the handbags are made in the U.S., but it also symbolizes the inspirations and support she has received from her business partners, family and friends.

The quality of the bag is another important feature of the collection. Owens carefully designs each handbag. She perfects every aspect from her sketchbook design to the final product.

Owens works closely with manufacturers in Los Angeles and is present for the whole process. Stone said Owens has a very high standard for leather, stitching and color, and she ensures each bag is created up to her expectations.

The 2015 collection has two styles of handbags, the Mary and the Victoria.

The Mary tote is simple, elegant and a staple piece fit for any season. The bag has a leather exterior crafted to its classic loose, structured shape.

The Victoria handbag is made with Italian leather. The interior is lined with a cotton-blend fabric and has an antique gold-zippered pocket. The exterior has the signature logo, a gold-zippered closure and four metal black bag feet to help protect the bottom of the handbag.

The handbag line is currently being sold online and at Finezza Fine Gifts, a store in Rancho Santa Fe. Stone and Owens created only a certain amount of each bag so they’re not mass-produced.

The two are currently focused on getting a strong base for their California-inspired line in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the future, Stone sees the brand branching out and eventually taking on men’s products, as well.

“It’s been eye-opening for both of us to see if we just put ourselves out there and try, there is a good response and people seem to be really positive about the brand,” Stone said.