When I started to love handbags, I was young—probably around ten—and that’s when I first remember noticing them on moms. I would study the moms at school drop-off and pick-up and began recognizing different bags, but this wasn’t something I learned from my own mom. She had four young kids and a crazy schedule as she took us everywhere and anywhere (a feat that, to this day, I do not understand), and she wasn’t a huge fashion fanatic. I found it easy to learn about brands at the high-end malls near where I grew up; I could simply go to the mall and discover bag with my friends, but I didn’t learn about the elusive Hermès Birkin until I was in high school. A friend of mine was flipping through a magazine with me and she told me, “My dream bag is a Birkin, but there’s a wait list and it costs a fortune!” I was intrigued.
Fast forward years down the road, and I met Vlad, we fell in love, we started PurseBlog and PurseForum together, and I very officially knew what a Birkin was. I chatted with the ladies on the PurseForum about Hermès bags and how they got theirs, but I still didn’t think I’d ever own one. Slowly and quite shockingly (to myself included!), our site was profitable, and then we started to make a good amount of money to where I realized this could be a job. At the time, I was still living in Columbus, Ohio, after college, and I had an apartment with my two friends. My portion of the rent was $350 a month. Yep, you read that right. For $350 a month, I lived in a new building, had a fireplace, and I got the master bedroom with a huge walk-in closet. This was ten years ago, and I had very little to spend when it came to expenses, and soon enough, I had enough money to buy a Birkin and not have it wipe my account dry.
Even though that was the case, I didn’t imagine that I’d actually be able to get a Birkin. Remember, ten years ago the waitlist still very much existed and I was a 24-year-old recent college graduate who knew little about the brand and had no Hermès store nearby. Vlad and I had a trip planned to NYC to meet with some PR firms who represented some of the brands we covered on PB, and I figured we’d go to the Hermès store. We had been told on our forum that if I had any shot of getting a bag, to bypass the Madison Avenue flagship and go down to the Hermès Wall Street location. I was even sent a private message by a couple members who suggested a sales associate to work with.
Though I knew I had the money to afford it, I still didn’t think it would happen. I called my father, who’s a financial adviser and has always taught me to be very frugal and smart with my spending, to talk about it. I remember him and I talking over my personal finances and the ability to grow this budding business, and my dad finally said to me that if this was going to be my profession, it wasn’t out of line to buy a Birkin with everything taken into account. I didn’t need his approval, but I wanted it. I grew up in a home with parents who worked so hard to give us everything possible, but we didn’t grow up extravagantly. I didn’t know any different until I got older, and I realized all the sacrifices my parents made for us. But that didn’t include much of what I’m now surrounded by, like designer accessories.
So at that moment, I knew I had plenty to buy a Birkin, and I also knew I wanted one. So we went to the store and began browsing. I remember specifically looking at the bracelets and small leather goods when the sales associate that I had asked for walked up. We introduced ourselves as Meaghan and Vladi. We started talking bags, and I was asking about colors and leathers to see examples on the small goods. The sales associate asked if he had ever visited the PurseForum, as it’s such a great resource. We looked at one another and told her we knew the forum. She asked what our names were on it, and we told her. At first she didn’t put two and two together, but when she did, she was elated as she was such a big fan! Asking people in the industry about tPF was hit or miss at the time; it was like a little secret for many, and brands weren’t so sure about our forum and having thousands of people talking about their brands and stores online.
The sales associate then asked me what my dream bag was, and I told her: a 30cm Togo Blue Jean Birkin. She told us to wait there and went to the back. Soon after, she came out and asked how long we’d be in town; we told her a few more days, and she said she’d call us. We went on our way not expecting much, but the next day she called and said, “I got your bag.” We rushed to the store before closing, and she took us into the changing room and opened a box to show me my holy grail. There she was, and she was beautiful. Next thing I know, I picked out a few accessories and we went to check out. I remember it all being a whirlwind; like, how is this even happening?
Of course my credit card got declined at first, because I never spent that much money in one place and the bank found it suspicious, but after talking to the bank the transaction went through and we were walking out with the most expensive item I ever owned. I was in shock. We couldn’t find a cab, so we took the subway from Wall Street back up to our hotel in midtown. I had the bag between my legs and held it tightly because the idea of losing it made me nervous. I imagined leaving it on the subway, or spilling a drink on it. I was thirsty but wouldn’t drink anything, and when we got back to the hotel, we went straight up to our room.
Vlad wanted me to take pictures right away to share on the forum and do a reveal. He suggested we go out to dinner and I carry it that night. Instead, I told him not to move the bag and I kept it in its box, still neatly wrapped and untouched. I sat on a chair in the corner of the room and I vividly remember that my body started to tremble. Vlad was elated for me and couldn’t wait to share, and I, on the other hand, was beginning to have a panic attack. My stomach churned, my body was shaking, and I was both sweating and freezing all at once. I remember feeling like I was going to throw up, and I went to the bathroom. All this over a bag. I was beside myself thinking how much money I spent on a bag, how absurd it all seemed in the scheme of life. And for some reason, this set me off so bad that I was in full panic attack mode all night. I couldn’t eat, I could barely sleep, I kept staring at that bag in the corner. I knew it couldn’t be returned and I just kept running through every other better option that existed than buying that bag. It all felt ridiculous to me; I wasn’t raised in a home where spending that kind of money on a bag was ever a thought.
Slowly, I started to calm down, but it took me days to open the box and share the bag. It took me longer to actually carry the bag. It’s all so funny, because I look at it now and remember the story of how lucky I was to get it so quickly, but I also remember how sick I felt over this specific bag. A purchase like that was a major decision for me, and it just felt like I made a bad decision at first. It’s funny, because this was a bag I had thought about for many years and I was able to afford it and find one well before I ever imagined, but how I felt after I bought that bag was not at all what I anticipated.
Ultimately, I’m so glad I have my first Birkin. I love that bag, I love the color, and it was the right Birkin for me. I loved being able to share the bag with everyone on the forum, I loved that what we started made it possible for me to have my own business, and I loved and continue to love that we have our own little part of the internet with such a great group of people. This bag will always hold a special place in my collection, and has a funny story on top of that!
Tell me I’m not alone—have any of you ever bought a bag that sent you into a panic?