pink purse

Photo: Heather Belle Co.

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Heather Belle
47, designer and founder, Heather Belle Co.

Her Product: Sleek, bright vegan handbags with a texture mimicking that of exotic skins. "My line lets people appreciate the beauty of these creatures without harming them," says Belle.

Her Story: Belle's passion for design is in her genes—her mother was a sculptor and artist—and in 2010 she launched her own jewelry and leather handbag lines; she liked the look of exotic skins but knew that the practices behind them could be cruel and wasteful (the animals are often raised and killed solely for use in luxury goods). So she was excited to come across resin material that could be molded to uncannily resemble the skins of crocodiles, eels, pythons, and elephants. "Having the bags handcast and handpainted also allows me to evoke the imperfections in real animal skin," says Belle, who has plans to expand into belts, iPad cases, and even shoes. (heatherbelleco.com) — Kate Sztabnik

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