by Mimi Montgomery
photographs by Nick Pironio
Everyone knows a bag can make or break an outfit. Raleighite Marcia Spencer has the solution: a fashionable, fun, and affordable Keechii clutch. Made of printed fabrics, calf hair, and layered, fringed, and tasselled leather, Spencer makes them each by hand.
When Spencer saw a void in the fashion market for fun clutches and purses that were fashionable, well-made, and still affordable, she started making them herself in 2014. “Women buy a lot of accessories,” she says, “so I wanted to make them really nice but not break the bank.” Her bags sell in the $50 – $100 range, and her philosophy is to create things that look good and make women feel good, too. One thing that makes Spencer feel good is family: The name Keechii is a nod to her parents’ Native American heritage, and is a blend of the names of the Cherokee and Occaneechi tribes from which they are descended. She likes to keep that personal emphasis in her products: “I created Keechii and they created me,” she says.
Spencer has always loved fashion. The N.C. State grad never had formal design training, but learned how to sew from her mother as a little girl and made her own clothes through high school and college. When she had her son in 2005, she started making bibs and clothes for him. That eventually expanded into a children’s clothing line called Small Beans in 2007, when her daughter was born. As much as Spencer loved creating kids’ fashion, she says, as her children got older, she wanted to focus on creating pieces she could use herself.
Spencer’s unique, creative touch is evident in all her products, which include bags, totes, pouches, and coin purses. Take a glance at Spencer’s Instagram and outfit pictures, and it’s obvious this is a woman who knows her style – she says she’s often inspired by the 1970s disco era and its glamorous and funky vibe. And while her bags are avant garde, she’s careful to never dive too deeply into trends. Spencer says she wants her customers to be able to carry her bags season after season. Or continue adding to their collection. “I always have ideas,” Spencer says. “It’s just fun.”
Keechii bags are available online on Spencer’s website and on Etsy, or locally at Nofo @ The Pig and Dogwood Collective.