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Sisters' passion for carry-alls is in the bag with Cassidy Girl Collection

| Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Sisters Ellen Hancovsky (left) of South Park and Ann Cox of Whitehall pose for a portrait surrounded by the custom-made quilted bags they create under the name of Cassidy Girl Collection in their Whitehall studio on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.

It was not unusual for sisters Ann and Ellen to find random pieces of thread on the carpet at their grandmother's house.

The loose fibers were leftovers from dolls the late Kathryn Donohue sewed for the Joseph Horne Co.

“It's the same problem I have,” says Ann Cox of carpets covered with thread. “Plus, it's all over my clothing, and it sometimes gets on my granddaughter.”

Following the family sewing tradition, Cox of Whitehall and Ellen Hancovsky of South Park create durable quilted travel bags and other items for their company, Cassidy Girl Collection.

Their inspiration comes from having a grandmother and mother, Jean Cassidy, who sewed. Jean Cassidy created clothing for her daughters, Cox, Hancovsky and Arlene Cassidy of Whitehall, and son, Joe Cassidy of Richland. Arlene Cassidy isn't involved with the business, but carries her Cassidy Girl Collection bag to work every day.

“The bags are really beautiful,” says mom Jean Cassidy. “I am so proud of my daughters and the company they have created. I love my purse (a cross-body bag). I get a lot of compliments on it.”

Most of the bags are created in cotton with the latest two in satin. Patterned choices include purple passion, orange pyramid, peacock and seismic black, as well as solid color options.

For the cotton bags, a tote is $45, a carry-on bag is $98, a diaper bag with pad is $119 and a garment bag is $120.

For the new collections, the Bridal honeymoon bag is $60, and the makeup bag is $20. A gym bag for the Team Spirit Collection is $60 and a large accessory case is $15.

The sisters are self-taught.

“At Cassidy Girl Collection, we are passionate and committed about producing a top-quality, durable and trendy travel bag,” Cox says. “Our bags are handmade using our sewing and artistic skills to create a unique, strong and washable product right here in Pittsburgh. You can custom design your bag to fit your lifestyle and needs, while also showcasing your personality.”

The idea to start Cassidy Girl Collection came after Cox was shopping, in search of a travel bag for her daughter. Most bags were overpriced, made of poor-quality materials and not personalized.

So Cox bought fabric, then designed and sewed one herself.

“I thought, ‘I could make a better bag than these bags,' ” Cox says. “And once people saw the bag I made for my daughter, they wanted one, too.”

The business name came from their maiden name, Cassidy. The two started the company in May 2012. They sell through a website and home parties, where the hostess receives a Cassidy Girl gift.

Customers can choose a color or pattern, personalize pockets, zippers and handles. The most popular hue is black, but they offer more than 25 fabrics. And they will work with a client who wants something other than what they have in stock. The bags can be monogrammed. They also meet Transportation Security Administration requirements.

The sisters work well together.

“We have always done things together,” Cox says. “This has been fun. We love working with each other.”

They pride themselves in using the best fabrics and that the bags, when empty, can stand up on their own because of their solid construction. All are machine-washable, but should be line-dried.

“If you can dream it, we can make it,” Hancovsky says. “That's our motto. We want this to be a fun girl's night out party. It's a time to socialize and see the collection. We feel like once people see the bags, they will like what they see.”

Debbie Ritter agrees.

“These bags are amazing,” says Ritter of Whitehall, who attended a recent open house. “I really like all the color options. My son is getting married, so I was looking at the bridal bags. It's a little too early for the diaper bags.”

Her daughter appreciates the collections, too.

“I really like the personalization of these bags,” Stephanie Ritter says. “You can be a part in the design, which is a fun idea. The colors are amazing.”

Details: 412-807-8276 or www.cassidygirlcollection.com

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