The words regulation and stadium-approved don’t exactly scream inspiration and style, but Jennifer Ugland’s love for football and fashion helped her flip the script and serve a need for female fans. After earning her degree in retailing with a specialization in fashion merchandising, the 2010 University of South Carolina alumna is now founder, owner and designer at POLICY handbags which specializes in creating and selling fashionable, stadium-approved purses and bags.
Ugland started the Charlotte-based company in 2016 and launched an online store the same year after the NFL and sport and entertainment stadium officials announced new rules banning all bags, purses or backpacks larger than 4.5” by 6.5” as a safety and security measure.
“With a retailing / fashion merchandising degree from UofSC and working in the fashion field for the past 10 years, my experience has helped me manifest this line,” says Ugland. “As much as I adore runway, I'm also a devoted football fan so, I used inspiration from my favorite trends in styling the bags while keeping the size restrictions in mind. I knew exactly what I needed for my game day bag: there's room for my phone, lip gloss, and card holder slots, plus they all feature a secure closure for security.”
“With a retailing / fashion merchandising degree from UofSC and working in the fashion field for the past 10 years, my experience has helped me manifest this line.”
—Jennifer Ugland ′10, fashion merchandising
As a start-up business owner, she is staying busy with just about everything that goes into launching a retail site, including sales, web design, accounting, shipping management, product design, social media and more. Her favorite part is the design side including choosing all the fabric, hardware lining and logos – and while only about 50 percent of the designs make it to production, she says it’s all part of the creative and learning process.
With football season in full swing, Ugland is seeing her creativity and entrepreneurship start to take off and she’s been restocking her online shelves with new designs to keep up with demand.
“I always had a creative mind and a unique style,” she said. “Ultimately, I knew I wanted to have a store or fashion line of my own, and my education at USC provided me with the tools to have both!”
The stadium regulations allow bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC that do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12” or a one-gallon, clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar). Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap, can also be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bags. However, Ugland envisions that stadium policies are just the beginning.
“My ultimate goal is to make a ‘POLICY’ a known brand and online store for handbags for any event policy,” says Ugland. “I would love to expand and collaborate with other designers to create their version of a ‘POLICY’ bag.”
With additional bag regulations emerging from names like Live Nation, Ugland might just see her vision come to life. But, while the growing success of the company is rewarding and exciting, it hasn’t been easy. After a career as a buyer for successful womens clothing company, Ugland had to start from the bottom to build her own brand.
“Success doesn’t happen overnight. Starting a new business takes time and commitment, so you have to be prepared to make sacrifices, socially and financially, to make your dream come to life,” she says. “Experience is key. If I hadn’t worked in the fashion world for years, I would have been lost when I started the company.”