Signal Brands + The Handbag Awards Create the “Signal Brands Collective,” including featured BELLA Magazine Designers, “Curic&Curic”


Signal Brands and The Handbag Awards join forces in creating the Signal Brands Collective, the first-ever handbag designer incubator. Launching in February 2023, the Signal Brands Collective is a 15-week program where the cohort of five selected independent handbag designers will be educated, guided, and mentored by IHDA Founder, Emily Blumenthal. With the support of Signal Brands’ team and resources, designers will create their “hero bag” mini collection of three silhouettes consisting of a Tote, Satchel, and Crossbody, and will be provided a brand roadmap to have their bags retail-ready on a larger scale.

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The Co-Founders of fashion brand, Curic&Curic, from Hoboken, NJ, have been recognized again in the fashion field as a talent among thousands of applicants. The pair also won the 2020 Independent Handbag Design Award with their sustainable denim handbag, “Blue Dahlia,” and were featured in BELLA Magazine.

On the news of being selected again, the co-founders said, “we are so proud to announce that we have been chosen to be one of the five designers among thousands of applicants, to be a part of the first ever handbag designer incubator. Signal Brands & The Independent Handbag Designer Awards join forces in creating the Signal Brands Collective, the first-ever handbag designer incubator to design ‘hero bag’ mini collections! We are so excited for this opportunity as we are the only Croatian Designers that have been selected for the second time to be a part of the fashion incubator founded by prominent and awarded fashion powerhouses like IHDA Founder, Emily Blumenthal and Signal Brands who worked with brands like Guess, Nine West etc.”

Emily Blumenthal who has been often referred to as “The Handbag Fairy Godmother” and is the Author of “Handbag Designer 101,” Founder of The Handbag Awards, and National Handbag Designer Day, has been a long-time advocate and voice of the independent handbag designer and has helped unknown brands garner placement into Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. “After 15 years of The Handbag Awards, and teaching Fashion Marketing at Parsons, The New School for Design, and Entrepreneurship at the Fashion Institute of Technology, it was the logical step to create the ‘Signal Brands Collective’ incubator,” Blumenthal says. “Signal Brands’ commitment to working with us through the IHDA made them a logical partner of nurturing talent where designers will create a collection via Signal Brands that will allow their brand to be available to a larger audience.”

The first cohort of designers selected for the Signal Brands Collective are IHDA Winners, Jeff Wan, Ivana Curic, and Marija Curic of Curic&Curic; and Valèrie Blaise of Vavvoune, Sade Mims of edas, and Shaquita Garcia of AART NYC.

About The Handbag Awards

Founded in 2007 by Emily Blumenthal, the Independent Handbag Designer Awards celebrates handbag design and talent from the United States and across the globe. Now in its fifteenth year, it is an industry staple and is the only international design competition to discover, recognize and amplify unknown independent handbag designers and give them the opportunity to become acclaimed brands. Follow The Handbag Awards at,, and on Instagram @HandbagDesigner

About Signal Brands

Signal Brands is a global leader in the design, manufacture, distribution and sales of licensed fashion women’s handbags, small leather goods and luggage. Signal Brands is a vertically integrated organization paying constant attention to research and development, design innovation and the adaptation to market changes. Tailored focuses on customer satisfaction are important objectives of the wholesale and retail distribution for each brand. The philosophy of Signal Brands is to champion long-term partnerships through a comprehensive licensing experience – from inspiration, concept and design to production, sales, and marketing. Follow Signal Brands at and on Instagram @signalbrands


BELLA Magazine is a national subscription- and newsstand-based lifestyle publication offering a curated guide to fashion, beauty, health, philanthropy, arts and culture, cuisine, celebrities, and entertainment.

At BELLA, we spotlight the ideal that Life Is BEAUTIFUL!

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