Today we’d like to introduce you to Morgan Lee.
Morgan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a UGA alumna and a huge football fan. This all started at the Georgia-UNC game at the Dome (RIP!), Labor Day weekend 2016. I was walking down Northside Drive near the stadium on my way to a tailgate with friends, with no plans (or ticket) to go to the actual game. All of a sudden, a security guard stopped me to sternly inform me that bags were prohibited beyond that point. I only had a small handbag with me, but because it wasn’t transparent, he made me double back and cross the street.
As I made the detour through the crowds and across the busy intersection, I couldn’t help but think: “A clear bag? What a strange thing to own.” It wasn’t until later that season that I realized this had already been a rule for NFL games; I started attending my first NFL games that year with my childhood friend–and now business partner–Max. I poked holes in one of those clear TSA zipper pouches and attached a strap from one of my old purses.
A few months later, at Atlanta United FC’s inaugural match at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the Clear Bag Policy was back, and we weren’t the only ones caught off-guard… I even saw people stashing their belongings in bushes outside the stadium! Max and I planned to attend many more games (because ATLUTD games are sensational), so it was then that I started looking for a clear bag that still served a trendy handbag look AND represented my team spirit without gaudy logos. There weren’t any out there that satisfied both, so I made my own!
Clearlee was born out of a love for sports and fashion. Max and I are still the sole owners and operators. We started as two Atlantans trying to help our fellow ATLiens enjoy sports and events here, and we’ve now reached fans across the country.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest obstacle was perfecting the bag’s design and sourcing materials. Max and I went through quite a bit before getting everything just right. The first few clear vinyls we tried were too flimsy. Our first faux leather was too thick to sew in my sewing machine.
We sampled materials from around the world, and some took months to arrive. Our early process was clumsy and the product was, too. We gave samples to family and friends and did a soft launch to get some feedback; some people’s bags broke after one use, so it was back to the drawing board to figure out why.
Four or five prototypes later, we had something we were proud of – the current Clearlee bags that are sold now. I can definitely say we’ve learned more about plastic, vinyl, construction and metalwork than I could have ever imagined!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about clearlee – what should we know?
Clearlee bags are minimalist, stylish clear bags for stadiums and events, made completely by hand here in Atlanta. From my experience at UGA, I know that game day, especially in the South, is like a holiday and a fashion show all in one.
We sought to make something that was compliant with clear bag policies, yet still showed team spirit and style in a unique way. Clearlee combines the style of boutique accessories with the variety/customization people expect from online retailers, all at an affordable price. Our competition is either mass-produced, triple the price or both.
We are proud to make something with our bare hands that helps people deal with an unusual security obstacle as we all try to stay safe in this crazy world.
(And we’ve got more fun stuff coming, of course. Stay tuned.)
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I think our customers most appreciate the fact that our bags are made by hand and therefore completely original, plus their colors are inspired by vibrant, passionate people just like them. Though Clearlee bags came from a love of sporting events, their practicality stretches to concertgoers, air travelers, retail workers and others.
- The Clearlee Classic $40
- The Clearlee Southeast Collection $42
- The Clearlee Classic XL $50
- Website: clearleebag.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/clearleebag
- Facebook: facebook.com/clearleebag
- Other: clearleebag.etsy.com
EWANG Photography, Mika Fengler, Max Meehan