The Fashion Industry Called Their Idea Crazy. Now, Their Handbag Design Is Iconic.

Here’s how they built a thriving international business.

  1. Find a unique solution to a common pain point.
  2. Find what you need (The women were focused on creating a quilted nylon pattern, which proved to be more technically challenging than many suppliers originally realized. “Nylon slips, so it was hard to get a uniform fill,” Zwirner said.)
  3. Find your sales channel (Zwirner was hesitant to push into standalone retail, but Wallace Eustice insisted. “I told her she was insane,” Zwirner said. Wallace Eustice followed: “When you have a store, you’re a brand. Otherwise, we’re just a bag in other people’s stores.” The pair found a space on Crosby Street, a stretch of Manhattan that’s impossibly trendy today, but in 2000, MZ Wallace was a trailblazer.)
  4. Hire for your weaknesses.
  5. Recover from tragedy (Wallace Eustice said of the Sept. 11 attacks. “Soho shut down, you couldn’t be downtown, and as New Yorkers, all you could feel was the grief and devastation. But you have to be resilient, as a New Yorker and as an entrepreneur — it’s probably the biggest attribute, just not giving up, saying, we’re still here.”)
  6. Celebrate the big wins.