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Minnesota couple designs chic bags for women on the go

Stephanie and Vince Fowler started "Austin | Fowler" to create stylish bags that could also simplify women's busy lives on the go.

SAVAGE, Minnesota — A Minnesota couple set out to create bags and accessories that are not only stylish, but practical, too. 

It started when Stephanie Fowler was working full time as a corporate executive with three kids under two years old. 

"Being a mom working in the corporate world full time, I felt like there was a lot of chaos. I felt like everything needed my time and attention, and in order to get some calm, I look to organization," Stephanie said. "I wanted a bag that kept me organized on the go but also felt chic enough to carry into the office."

Stephanie quickly realized that the bag she was looking for didn't exist. 

She specifically was looking for a diaper bag and said, "There were a lot of kind of juvenile prints and I thought, 'Okay, I'm a corporate executive; I can't carry a bag like this as my work bag.'" 

Beyond her job, Stephanie said none of the bags fit her style. On the other end of the spectrum, the designer bags she looked at lacked any functionality. 

"There's a huge void. How do we get the style and aesthetic of more of a polished, elevated bag with the functionality that a lot of women crave to simplify their life?" Stephanie asked. 

Stephanie and her husband, Vince Fowler, had no prior experience in manufacturing, design or fashion. 

"I would get home from work, make dinner, be with the family, and then once we put the kids to bed, we would both sit on the couch with our laptops and just start working," Stephanie said. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
Austin | Fowler launched in 2015.

Austin | Fowler launched in 2015. Austin is Stephanie's maiden name and reflects the chic style she always loved while Fowler represents the functionality she's craved since getting married and having kids. 

Austin | Fowler creates bags that can be used for work, travel, everyday or as a diaper bag. 

"It's a bag that can live with you through different seasons. So if you've got a little one, now you can use it as your baby bag, but you can also carry it to the office," Stephanie said. "It was our intention that it would grow with people over time." 

The bags have a bright interior to make it easier to see everything inside and include lots of pockets and other features such as stroller clips and luggage and laptop sleeves. 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
The bags have a bright interior to make it easier to see everything inside.

Stephanie and her husband, Vince Fowler, have four kids: Duke (10), Blake and Blair (8) and Regan (5). The children have watched their business grow. 

"The kids get to see us build this thing and we're just incredibly happy to be on this journey," Vince said. 

The couple is aiming to launch men's wallets later this year. 

"We still always stay true to the core," Stephanie said. "It has to be something that makes women feel elevated and chic but keeps them super organized on the go so it brings some simplicity to their lives."

You can shop Austin | Fowler online

Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at hwigdahl@kare11.com.     

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