Waynedale Business


Vera Bradley has become a household name, manufacturing everything from stylish handbags to luggage and even photo holders. The Vera Bradley company was not always as we know it today. Hard enough to believe, Vera Bradley had its start in a Fort Wayne basement. Vera Bradley began in 1982 in Barbara Baekgaard’s basement in Fort Wayne. Vacationing together Baekgaard and friend Patricia Miller, noticed the lack of feminine-looking luggage. So began their journey in creating handbags and luggage items that would grow in demand in the years to follow. The company outgrew the basement, eventually becoming nationally and internationally recognized.

Locally founded Vera Bradley opened a new manufacturing plant located near Roanoke, Indiana this February. Up until the recent move Vera Bradley’s manufacturing plant had been located in various locations in Fort Wayne, most recently at its 1425 Progress Road location. The move was important because it became necessary for the home office to be near the production facility. Building a campus was the most effective way to accomplish this. The new Roanoke location offers roughly 200,000 square feet of space for the company.

There are nearly 3000 Vera Bradley retailers across the nation as well as roughly 500 stores in Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the US Virgin Islands. They are dedicated to producing specialty handbags that are made to be both fashionable and of high quality. Vera Bradley is not just about the fashion, but rather fashion with a purpose.

In 1994 they established The Vera Bradley Foundation supporting Breast Cancer. The company released a number of new patterns (among them, the ever sweet Pink Elephants) of which 10% of the proceeds will go to The Vera Bradley Foundation. Be sure to look for the pink ribbon on the Vera Bradley website www.verabradley.com to view these items. Since the foundation began in 1994, Vera Bradley has raised more than $4 million in cancer research. Even more impressive were the results from the 2006 Vera Bradley Golf and Tennis Classic, where the foundation announced a pledge of $6.8 million to the Indiana University Cancer Center and Dr. Linda Malkas, the Vera Bradley Chair on cancer study.

Today Vera Bradley takes pride in being an Indiana employer. The company also stands in its original commitment to exceptional quality, unique designs, and dependable customer service. Vera Bradley releases new fabrics and styles each season. They have even started offering items for pet lovers including fashionable leashes and pet carriers. You can make purchases on the website or just browse for your favorite pattern. Don’t worry if you can’t choose a favorite. Whatever you choose with Vera Bradley you can always carry a piece of Fort Wayne with you.

The Waynedale News Staff

Jessica E. Williams

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