Most arrive in the United States with a bag in hand and some hopeful aspirations. For Jurgita Stahlecker however, it was actually multiple bag designs in hand, and more than one dream in mind.
The Lithuanian-born designer first started out building different facets of her professional career in various countries throughout Europe. During her time in Istanbul working with different brands, Stahlecker then met her husband in New York City while on a business trip. Marrying someone born and raised in Philadelphia, the designer made the move to the City of Brotherly Love shortly after packing up to the U.S., and her business came with her.
JURGI, Stahlecker’s brand, offers handmade bags in different categories spanning large, small, her LILI Collection, and now, beach bags. How it all started however, was from a love of the product and an outlook on what the fashion industry needed.
“I never was a bag person, I didn’t have an awesome bag. I prefer a small, nice bag [for] the everyday occasion…and then I was looking for something specific,” Stahlecker explains.
That specificity was essentially a want for something simple, clean and not lauded with logos. Something she could use everyday, but the quality is top-notch.
“I hate when bags have logos or something that screams look at me, I’m that brand. And the quality is not that great either,” Stahlecker continues “So, I wanted to create something for myself and my friends and that’s how it started. [I like] simple, nice, beautiful things around me. My house is even the same.”
JURGI was started here in 2021 — although the first official bag was designed in Stahlecker’s time in Istanbul, Turkey — a year after the designer had made the move to the U.S. Even in a new place, with new companies and a global pandemic surrounding the launch, Stahlecker was ready.
“When I was ready to do it officially, it was 2021. COVID or not, I just started. At the start I didn’t know what I was doing or where I [was] going with it…I just got to know the people around the industries of Philadelphia. I think it was helpful, and it was a good time [because] I didn’t dive right in.”
The JURGI bag utilizes experience from Stahlecker’s time in Turkey specifically through both design and quality. As the designer says on her site: “The Turkish people’s dedication to what they do and the quality of their workmanship inspired me. When I decided to start my brand, I knew Istanbul was precisely where to realize my dreams of creating JURGI designs.”
JURGI’s bags come in a mixture of patterns with patent leather and suede. In Stahlecker’s words, the products are clean, top quality, and they all possess something that attracts buyers to them. And the best part? They’re made in limited batches.
“All the leathers that I’m buying in Turkey, I’m buying from local, small tanneries. The colors and the patterns and the bags are limited because we don’t do mass production. It’s hard to find a lot of the same color from the leather, but I like that. So some bags can be slightly different.”
JURGI’s bags are handcrafted from start to finish, and in total, less than 10 people are involved in the process, promoting the idea of durability. Currently, Philadelphians can buy any of the brand’s products online (although there are two stores carrying her designs in L.A. and New York.) Eventually, the designer also wants to launch her products in storefronts in the City of Brotherly Love as well.
Currently everything from small, big, the new beach bags and the recently launched LILI collection are available. And they all follow Stahlecker’s original dream, one that put simplicity and craftsmanship at the helm of everything they do.
“In people, clothing and bags…It feels like everything is so over the top these days,” Stahlecker finishes. “That’s what I wanted to express in my bags and designs—simple and practical beauty.”
For more information on JURGI, visit jurgibrand.com