What do anteaters and actresses have in common? The answer involves handbags, swag, a local woman’s childhood love of a certain insect-eating mammal, and a big night in Hollywood.
Ten actresses, in particular — the ones who will be vying for the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress statuettes at Sunday’s Academy Awards in Hollywood — will receive handbags imprinted with an anteater pattern.
The bags, produced by Bethany Beach resident Julie Kypreos’ company, Jules K., are part of “Everyone Wins” promotional “swag bags” provided to Oscar nominees by the promotional company Distinctive Assets.
Through the Distinctive Assets promotion, packages of “swag” are delivered to the homes of nominees for Best Actress, Best Actor, Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor, as well as Best Director nominees and host Jimmy Kimmel.
Kypreos, whose handbags are sold online, said she came up with the idea of submitting her handbags for consideration while researching ways to get the word out about her unique handbags.
“I’m a start-up,” she said, adding that she recognizes that her handbags are so unique that they require some creative marketing. “No one is probably going to do a Google search for ‘anteater handbags,’” she said with a bit of a chuckle.
The swag bags include gifts for the nominees that range from a tube of ChapStick to a three-day stay at an 18-bedroom beachfront mansion in northern California, valued at $40,000. Kypreos’ handbags range in price from $370 to $395.
While all of the nominees for Best Director are men and, obviously, the 10 Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominees are men, they — as well as Kimmel — will also receive Jules K. bags. Kypreos said she tried to take the men’s significant others into consideration when choosing which bag to contribute for them, when applicable.
For all the bag choices, she gathered a trusted group of friends, one of whom contributed a spreadsheet, listing each of the 26 bag recipients, featuring a picture of each one (the photographs of female nominees showed them with a handbag, ostensibly to help choose one of Kypreos’ bags that they might prefer), height (again, for the women, to help choose bags by size and strap length) age and number of children. The men’s listings included the names of their significant others, if they have one.
Kypreos said she hopes the men who receive the bags will pass them on to women in their lives, whether they be wives, girlfriends “or even their sisters.”
The process of getting her handbags into the nominees’ swag bags began last summer, when Kypreos found information about the promotion online. She received word in June that she had been chosen as the only handbag company to be represented in the swag bags. Once she signed her contract with Distinctive Assets, she was “locked in” to her status as the sole handbag offered to the nominees this year.
On Jan. 24, when the nominees were announced, Kypreos and her group of friends quickly went to work choosing which bag to send for each nominee, with the help of the spreadsheet developed by her cousin, Lennea Downs. Within a week, the handbags were on their way to be packaged with the rest of the celebrity swag.
“It was a group effort,” she said.
Kypreos said that the handbags, which are made in New York City, are “highly finished and take many weeks for a small order to be completed.” She added that, in the entire swag-bag process, “heading toward the deadline and trying to determine how much inventory to carry was the hardest part.”
Meanwhile, Kypreos has started another project that follows her overall goal of keeping her company as local as possible. This year, she has developed a partnership with Cape Henlopen High School’s Textile & Fabric program, in which students are cutting and sewing zipper pouches that she has added to her product lineup. Of the proceeds from the pouches, 65 percent goes back to the school’s Textile program.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for the students to learn about what it costs to market a product,” Kypreos said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
One thing is for sure: Kypreos, her friends and family, and now a group of high school students with a stake in the success of Jules K handbags, will be watching for photos of the likes of multiple-time nominees Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, Octavia Spencer, Michelle Williams, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep — as well as newcomers Ruth Negga, Naomi Harris and Isabelle Huppert — hoping for a glimpse of anteaters on their shoulders.
For more information on Kypreos’ product line and her company’s cooperation with Cape Henlopen High School, visit www.julesk.com.