July 2015

Set off on an Adventure with Noepe Designs

by Diane Alter

The island has long been known as a laboratory for art, music, food, and fashion. MV has held on to its hot spot status for the creative for decades without having to keep reinventing itself. That is part of its charm. That irresistible charm is precisely what lured the imaginative Kate Fournier. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Kate planted her roots on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. After years of playing with several artistic mediums and working different jobs, Ms. Fournier brought her ideas to reality and has just recently launched a line of unique handbags that fashionistas are going gaga over.

Noepe Design debuted this spring after a year and a half of refinement,” Kate, a Maine native, told Dressed MV. “In the winter of 2014, in a house overlooking Menemsha pond, I began toying with a collection of illustrations that eventually became the foundation for Noepe Design’s textile.” With Noepe Design’s debut, a fashion statement and hit was born. Kate explained she chose the native Indian, Wampanoag name as her company’s moniker because of her love for MV and its people. “I couldn’t be more proud of where I live,” Kate shared. “I model my company on the ethics of this great community. I try to push my designs to be a fraction of the natural beauty that’s here.”

“I choose a collection of bags that women could carry on the adventure of their everyday lives.”

Kate is being modest. Her beautiful, well made handbag collection, which includes the small Townie Clutch, the medium Islander tote, and the large Ferry Boat Tote, are indeed works of art. All are made of the highest quality materials. The bags sport an assortment of silk screened designs on 100% linen that hails from Europe. The ink is custom mixed to compliment the fabric’s fabulous colors. The leather trim and brass fixtures are sourced from New York City and nearby Massachusetts.

“I chose a collection of bags that women could carry on the adventure of their everyday lives,” Kate shared. “From taking a moment and sipping a cup of tea, to hopping on an island bound ferry with a sketch book and camera, my objective was the perfect carry-all. I aimed for a bag that is comfortable, made from natural linen/leather, and fits well in any hand, arm, and shoulder. My goal was to create a bag that embraces nature’s beautiful patterns and encourages imagination, wandering, and creativity.”

To be sure, nature inspires Kate. So does MV’s arresting aura, as well as her fearless and adventurous friends. “Inspiration has many forms, such as a kind exchange with a stranger that changes your entire mood for the day, allowing you to see life more beautifully. Bringing that kind of emotion into my work, and making it come alive through my art, truly motivates me,” Kate said.

Noepe Design has been warmly welcomed on MV. It seems as though Noepe has already carved out quite a name for itself, despite its short arrival time on the island. “The white ink on slate feather Ferry Boat Tote featured in Dressed MV’s June issue has been selling out as soon as I refill orders. I couldn’t be happier making products that inspire and resonate with people,” a buoyant Kate added.

There just isn’t enough hours in the day to bring all of Kate’s tapestry of ideas to fruition. But eventually, she hopes to expand her line. The community has happily gained yet another amazing, artistic talent who’s embracing all that this magical island holds for oneself. One can see it in her work, hear it in her voice and feel it in her soul. Kate is starting off on her own wild adventure and whichever direction she chooses to go, we are ready to follow.
Noepe Design handbags are available at a number of shops peppered across MV, including Citrine in Vineyard Haven, Driftwood Jewelry in Oak Bluffs, and Pandora’s Box in Menemsha. The company website launches in July.​

Visit the Website: Noepe Design