Passion for purses

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

BISON -- The black-and-hot-pink zebra material purse is wild and loud, with little pieces of jewelry, or bling, placed here and there.

Needless to say, it has what one could call the "pop factor."

While the loud patterns might not be the style Mitzi Befort personally prefers, she is the one who creates them.

"I learned to put lime green with leopard," Befort said. "I would never do that on my own, but it sells."

M & M's Purses began approximately a year and a half ago, after Befort and her mother, Wilma Roesti, made bags for family members.

Roesti, Burr Oak, said they had some extras, so she took them to her work.

"We had just started out ... making them for the grandkids. We had two or three extra ones, and I took them to my workplace and they just grabbed them up," Roesti said.

Befort said she shrunk the tote pattern, used some so-so material -- in case it didn't turn out -- and created a small purse for herself.

But it worked.

Someone bought the purse from Befort while she was carrying it.

Befort knew she was on to something. So with the help of her mother, the two began to make changes to the original pattern, eventually creating their own one-of-a-kind purse.

"Between the two of us, we just pretty well brainstorm and see what we can come up with," Roesti said. "It's just kind of a Mitzi and Mom thing."

Since the two do not live in the same town, Roesti said Befort sends the materials she needs to her through the mail so she is able to create the purses.

M & M's Purses includes little girls' purses, women's purses, tote bags and even diaper bags.

The little girls' purses often include something extra such as a piece of jewelry, sunglasses or a small stuffed animal.

"Girls like their stuff," Befort said. "They like toys and bling and note pads and necklaces."

For Roesti, decorating the little purses is what she enjoys.

From start to finish, Roesti said it takes her approximately three and a half hours.

"I like to assemble what I am going to decorate it with and have it all ready, sit down and finish one and start another," Roesti said. "I like to get one done before I start another."

For Befort, the real fun is creating a new design.

"I kind of invent my own, but I have to have a guideline somewhere," she said. "The first tote I made ... it was great. But as you go, you find all the things that don't work for people, so I change things. So now, it's absolutely our design."

Befort said the purses feature numerous pockets inside; the women's purses have eight, while the children's purses have six.

That's not including the outside pockets, either.

According to Befort, there never are too many pockets, and each purse has approximately 11 to 12.

"I've gotten so spoiled with my eight pockets to hold everything except the wallet, the checkbook and my sunglasses," Befort said. "That is all in the middle. It's easy; you know where everything is at. You can pull things out in the dark."

The mother-daughter team purchases their material from Walmart normally, but Befort said she has purchased some material off eBay and from the Quilt Cottage.

Befort said some of the material costs and the little extras can add up quick.

"I take a hit on a few things, but I figure I'll make it back somewhere," she said.

In addition to selling purses, Befort also attends craft fairs.

"We did four craft shows between September and December, and then I shut it down and I've not made any trips," she said.

Befort said she has sold her merchandise at the Whimmydiddle craft fair in Scott City and also at fairs in Larned and Russell.

While at Whimmydiddle, Befort said there were 250 other booths selling handmade products as competition, but she did well at the craft show.

Since early December, Befort also has sold her purses at Hair Repair, 128 W. Ninth.

Purses also can be viewed and even purchased online at www.facebook.com/MMsPurses.

Children's purses are $25, while women's purses cost $35 and a tote costs $40.