“Buy quality, not quantity.” Although a popular concept today, it was novel when Judy Vojtech and Peggy Patterson were growing up. This pearl of wisdom passed down from Peggy’s mom is the driving force behind W. H. Petronela—along with Judy’s mom’s advice to “coordinate your shoes with your handbag”—a notion that Judy and Peggy embrace when designing their collection of polished, ladylike handbags.
W. H. Petronela, named in honor of the women who encouraged the designers to follow their passions—Wilma Henrietta and Petronela—has earned a loyal following among discerning women of all ages who appreciate the collection’s classic yet modern shapes and thoughtful design details. What’s more, the W. H. Petronela’s notable lack of exterior hardware emphasizes the collection’s timeless appeal.
Since debuting in 2010, W. H. Petronela has expanded from its core group—sleek, sophisticated satchel shoppers, clutches and wallets—to include bucket bags, backpacks, travel pieces such as weekenders, tablet covers and belts. Each piece, designed to last a lifetime, is crafted from the finest python, crocodile and ostrich skins.
While Judy holds a degree from LIM college, she also has one in accounting—a helpful combination when diving into a competitive marketplace. Add Peggy’s passion for fashion and keen eye to the mix and the result is a solid partnership that extends to friendship, too.
Judy and Peggy’s designs are inspired by women whose lives are very much a reflection of their own: active, socially and culturally engaged, aware of runway trends, but able to translate those trends in a way that suits their modern, multitasking lifestyle. From carry-everywhere pieces to ones suitable for the most special of occasions, W. H. Petronela fuses function and fashion one elegant shape at a time.
The designers are also inspired by colors and textures, often juxtaposing a classic shape in an unexpected shade such as lavender or coral at one end of the spectrum, to cobalt blue or fuchsia on the other, or by applying trims and details more closely associated with sportswear such as color blocking.
And although the design duo doesn’t currently design apparel, they’re mindful of wardrobe “must-haves” – a chic sheath dress, a beautifully tailored blazer or trim little jacket, the perfect pair of trousers, cashmere anything and great denim jeans—when they set their sights on a new season.
Details include fringe and detachable chains on sleek clutches; totes accented with detachable mini clutches for day-into-evening ease; and shoppers accented with oversized tassels that double as key chains. Some of the pieces have hand painted highlights.
“Our pieces are a blend of timeless style and also function. We think about details that will keep things just a little more organized,” says Judy. Adds Peggy, “For example, smaller pieces have interior zipper and open pockets and multiple card slots, and shoppers come with matching, multipurpose pouches that keep essentials handy.
In addition to core styles that W. H. Petronela offers each season, the company provides retailers with an opportunity to special order certain silhouettes, mixing and matching colors and skins in order to create exclusivity across different distribution channels. Considered “accessible luxury,” retail prices range from $200 for a python wallet to $2500.00 for a crocodile satchel.
W. H. Petronela also gives back. Judy and Peggy created, H. O. P. E., a nonprofit organization addressing the needs of at-risk youth. The group seeks to prepare young adults to become productive citizens by providing a working and learning environment where they can meet the demands of adulthood. With every purchase, the founders contribute a portion of the sale price to H. O. P. E. Women can truly look and feel their best, knowing that their purchase helps those in need.