A beautiful handbag helps keep America beautiful. Julie Apple is the brand and the designer is someone who truly thinks about helping the world, starting right here in East Tennessee.
First and foremost, Julianne Applegate is a mom. Then come her many talents: handbag designer, entrepreneur, classical singer. And it all started in New Jersey.
"There wasn't any real passion or obsession when I was a kid. I just liked to imagine and make art," says Applegate.
Julianne started out majoring in classical voice at Salisbury University.
"Voice was lovely, but it wasn't it," says Applegate. Then she found her niche at the University of Delaware and Fashion Institute of Technology majoring in fashion design.
"It was a whirlwind. I don't have the college memories of it was so much fun and all those great spring breaks. I worked my butt off," says Applegate.
Right out of school, she worked for a design software company. "It was really cool. At the age of 22, I was managing beta test sites all over the country. One was at Nordstrom. We would also meet with designers from Nike and Liz Claiborne," says Applegate.
She also taught at a world-renowned fashion school. "I ended up teaching a course at Parsons just two years after college. I taught computer-aided design," says Applegate.
But she was eager for something more hands on so she got a big design opportunity right here in East Tennessee.
"I was hired by a company called LeSportsac," says Applegate. "The brand is much more of an international, northeast, west coast type brand, but they had a sewing facility in Dandridge."
During her nine years there, she went from design associate to VP of Design and Development. "It sold and it just wasn't the same. It went from being a small family brand to, it was just different," says Applegate.
Julianne started to look for work again. "When I went in to interview with this other company and I thought about where the collection would be made, what they would do with the materials I intended to use and what they would do instead," says Applegate. She made the decision to start her own line and she wanted it to be eco-friendly.
"That's kind of where Julie Apple started. It was trying to go design for someone else and realizing that it's important to take ownership of my work and to do something that I believe in and to make something better," says Applegate.
Now her own line is established. Her handbags are pretty with prints, petals, plaids. Even her kids help spur her creativity. And her line is green.
"I try to keep all my raw materials local so just about everything in the bags is made in the USA," says Applegate. "We want to be good to every hand that touches it along the way."
These bags are really made using your recycled water bottles and they are sold at the Julie Apple shop on the 100 block of Gay Street. Julianne loves being right where she is.
"The thing about Knoxville that I tell people who aren't from here is every day is kind of like a party and all you have to do is show up," says Applegate.
Julianne Applegate, a Jersey girl with a fabulous fashion sense and a desire to make the world a better place.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.