Student sells homemade tote bags

Ayrianna Sherwood, a freshman at Kirkwood Community College majoring in graphic communication technology, has been working to build her small tote bag business “Ayresneedleworks” on Instagram. 

 Sherwood started sewing at a young age, learning from her grandma who would try to teach her how to make Barbie clothes. 

She said she truly got into sewing her senior year at Kennedy High School during her “20 Times” project where she made puppets and purchased her first official sewing machine from a family friend. 

 Sherwood said, “It’s made making bags significantly easier and now I know how to actually use the machine. That was my biggest fear. I didn’t know how to use it so I didn’t want to mess it up, but now I’ve gotten over that fear and now I’m learning it.” 

 Sherwood started her tote bag business during her senior year after she rediscovered a tiny sewing machine her mom bought for her during her junior year along with some material that she never used. 

One day, she got bored and decided to grab all the scrapped materials her mom had gotten her and quilted it all together and came to the idea. She thought, “Wouldn’t that be such a good bag?”  

 “It’s just been history ever since,” said Sherwood.  

 Sherwood said she is currently working on branding her business and adjusting small issues to help further her business. One of her main issues and goals is creating affordable and cute totes that aren’t overpriced so more people will buy it. 

 “I don’t want people to look at my product and be like that’s not worth 30 or 40 bucks so I just say 25. I feel that’s a good starting price now, but the more effort and time I put into it I realize it should be more, but I want them to be affordable and I want people to want them for what their worth, and I know the quality isn’t great, and I plan on improving that,” said Sherwood. 

 Each bag is handcrafted and personalized for each customer ,layered with a cozy fur inside and quilted outside. Sherwood said she spends roughly five hours on each bag depending on the design. 

 “I think it would be really cute if moms bought it for their kids and passed it down,” said Sherwood. 

She added, “I think it would be remarkable if people were talking about these bags they bought in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I would really like for them to be a relic in people’s families like a really prized possession because I want them to be unique to each person.” 

 With goals of selling her totes at the local farmers market this summer, Sherwood is dreaming big and working hard.

Categories: Feature, Student Spotlight