COVID Chronicles: Kent Stetson of Kent Stetson Handbags

We're checking in with Rhode Islanders from all walks of life to see how they're doing amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

KentBack in 2013 and 2014, I had the great pleasure of following Kent Stetson of Kent Stetson Handbags around for a profile in Rhode Island Monthly. (See: “Keeping Up with Kent Stetson.”) I went to his outrageous StyleWeek fashion show. I shadowed him at a wholesale trade show in Manhattan. I drove to Guilford, Connecticut, to see him work his magic on the craft show crowd. Men, women, children: Everybody loved his punchy, fun — dare I say, life-affirming? — handbags. I did, too. Still do.

In the last six years, his business has grown exponentially. And as soon as things get back to normal, you should rush on over to his beautiful, gallery-like storefront in Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village. For now, though, the shop is closed. Kent filled us in on how things are going for him and his staff:

“I am fine, and all of my staff are safe at home as instructed for all non-essential workforce. My studio is closed to visitors, but my website is still running and I am keeping my social media content updated regularly.

We are taking things moment by moment, and I can’t provide any specifics because by the time anything goes to publish my answers to any of these questions could change dramatically. My priority is to follow instructions to stay home and avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. I think of the essential workforce having to expose themselves to risk and I am truly grateful to them but I believe we all have an obligation to do our part to stay home unless absolutely necessary. I am seeing examples of people called to serve and I am so awestruck by their sense of duty to help others — there are many heroes stepping up to help. As we look out at the scope of this pandemic I realize that many of us have never encountered something that will so dramatically impact our world.

I have a friend in New York who has been in critical condition on a ventilator for almost a week now and showing little improvement.  If not ourselves directly, we will all eventually know and be close to someone who becomes very sick with this virus.

I will be following closely the various disaster relief packages for unemployed individuals and small businesses, I will do my part to celebrate the power of the imagination on my channels, and I look forward to a day when people will again be able to safely get dressed up to go out and socialize.”

Us too, Kent.

KsHe didn’t mention it himself, but Kent’s launched a special web sale while the studio is closed. Gorgeous leather crossbody pouches ($70), fun fabric and leather wristlets (at left, $55-$70) and reversible totes ($85) are available. If it’s within your means, go forth and support a truly wonderful and creative local entrepreneur. Shop here.