From a barn to your department store - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

From a barn to your department store

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

It is always interesting to see where a great idea is born. In the case of Katie Kalsi, her great idea was born in a barn behind her grandparents' house. That great idea can now be found in department stores all over the southeastern United States.

"I love working out of this barn having that lake out there. Talk about inspiration. This is the place to be," she says. "I started working out of here years ago. I believe it was going to happen. I just knew it, knew it in my gut, I was onto something that could be huge.

Kalsi graduated from Houston High School in Germantown. From there she went to Ole Miss, got out of school got married and had two children. She took her love art and applied it towards a new business, purse art.

She had to refine her painting leather process many times before it worked. But, when it did, things took off. But, it wasn't until Kalsi got to present her hand bags with the original hand painted straps, to buyers for Belk Department Stores, that she realized she had hit the big time.

"We went to the meeting and I was so excited," she said. "I was thinking just a few stores they would put me in, but they said, 'We've decided to put you in 69 stores'."

Kalsi went from cranking out dozens of her handbags in the barn behind her grandparents house to El Paso, Texas, to set up a manufacturing plant to start making thousands of bags.

The buyers at Belks were right, her hand painted leather handbags were a huge hit with some stores, selling as many as 100 purses in a day. She is now in 74 stores and is touring the country making personal appearances.

"I have to say when I see people walking around, not knowing who I am, carrying my bag, I don't tell them who I am," she said. "I walk up to them and ask them about their bag and how they like it, and they tell me how much they love it and how it comes with two hand painted straps, and then I tell them I'm Katie Kalsi.'

"They go, 'Wow.' It's the cutest thing."

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