Cosmetic Bag Entrepreneur: ‘Have an Esteem Team’

UPDATED: March 29, 2013
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2013 has partnered with Lifetime Moms to introduce you to some outstanding women. These women are a lot like you—they range from stay-at-home moms to successful career women, entrepreneurs and CEOs of their homes. They all attended Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle women’s conference this summer to learn more about growing their small business and found they learned something about themselves. We’ll feature one Lifetime Moms attendee from each city’s stop on the Spark & Hustle conference.

Meet Sally Papedis

Sally Papedis is helping women with one of the biggest traveling hassles: packing toiletries and cosmetics. From scrounging for plastic bags shoved under sinks to grimy and overused zippered pouches, Papedis has created a line of luxury cosmetic bags to replace those complimentary “free gift with purchase” ones women often reach for. The mother of two and avid kickboxer created her line, Stella Grey Bags, in Chicago with two things in mind. “Functional and fabulous is my motto,” she says. Her fashion-forward vision for the line features unique fabrics and design elements. “I seek out high-end faux leather because of the fabric’s waterproof, stain resistant and durable qualities. Heavily textured fabrics in faux ostrich, crocodile and python are used to achieve the exotic look of the line. The signature brass zipper provides another element of luxury and durability to Stella Grey Bags that is currently missing in today’s cosmetic bag market,” she says.

As a small-business owner and entrepreneur, Papedis attended Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle conference in Chicago, and took away two important pointers from the conference to keep her entrepreneurship on track. The first, having an “Esteem Team.” “Your esteem team are those people who will do just about anything for you and will always support your crazy ideas. It really made me identify those people in my life who have supported Stella Grey from the beginning, who told me to dream big and believed in me. So now when I hit a roadblock, I go to my Esteem Team.” And second, the skill to “Just Ask.” “I always hesitate to ask for help. But now if I need help, advice, or a favor… I just ask. And the funny thing is… 90% of the time it works.”

Since the line’s debut, it has experienced huge success, evolving into a full line of accessory bags as well. “Without any advertising or marketing Stella Grey fans are across the nation and in Canada, London and Tokyo. Whether you are searching for a stylish cosmetic bag, a chic petite clutch, a durable toiletry bag or lightweight travel tote, Stella Grey Bags provides today’s fashionistas with a virtually endless supply of glamorous accessory bags that are socially mindful and animal friendly.”

So what’s next for Papedis? “Next year, I will be introducing a line of organic ivory statement rings, handcrafted under my direction, and made from a nut found in the rain forest. They will tie nicely into my line.” She encourages other women to simply go for it, and uses her story as her platform. “I earned my degree in Fashion Design and Apparel Manufacturing over 20 years ago when I was a crazy punk rocker who went by the name Stella. (I got photos to prove it.) [And I got here] today with no formal business training. So never give up on your dream.”

Teneshia Jackson Warner is an award-winning multicultural marketing expert, purpose-driven entrepreneur and author. She is the founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of EGAMI Group, a leading multicultural marketing and communications firm in Manhattan with clients such as Procter & Gamble, Target, Verizon Wireless, My Black is Beautiful, U.S. Army, Hennessy, Major League Baseball and Toyota.

In 2013, Teneshia founded The Dream Project Symposium, an annual empowerment conference that helps thousands of entrepreneurs, creatives and career Dreamers plan and achieve their goals. Based on concepts from The Dream Project, Teneshia’s new book, The Big Stretch: 90 Days to Expand Your Dreams, Crush Your Goals, and Create Your Own Success (McGraw-Hill Education, November 22, 2019), is a fully customizable self-evaluation and empowerment program for jumpstarting a new business, career or big idea.