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April 23, 2019

The bags you're going to start noticing at weddings, parties, even tailgates

Philly's Allison Ost shares how she started her business selling affordable, customizable clutches by word of mouth and Instagram

Businesses Accessories
Carroll -  Allison Ost Handbags Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Allison Ost with the custom PhillyVoice handbag she created.

"It all started very randomly," said Allison Ost, who sells affordable customizable clutches through her Instagram @blocked_by_a_osty.

You may see her acrylic bags, all under $100, at your next wedding, party or even tailgate – the clear "Game Day" bags are the right size to take into Lincoln Financial Field.

Ost, who currently lives in Philly but is originally from Huntingdon Valley, was a teacher at the time when she decided to create her own monogrammed purse for an event, with no idea it would launch a business.

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Carroll -  Allison Ost HandbagsThom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A range of clutches created by Allison Ost.

"I saw bags online that were so much money, and I wanted something similar but I didn't want to spend so much," said Ost.

After posting a picture to social media, she found her first customer, who wanted one for her daughter's wedding.

"I was thinking, 'I don't know what I'm doing. I'm not a designer.' But, I just decided to go for it," said Ost, who has always had a thing for DIY projects.

"Since I was a little girl, I've loved fashion. I would cut my stockings into tube tops," she said, laughing.

Carroll -  Allison Ost HandbagsThom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Ost's Blocked clutches are customizable.

In October 2018, Ost created an Instagram account to promote and sell her clutches. Since then, she's sold around 700, while working a full-time job as a buyer for a kids clothing company.

"I had a website in the works and everything, but I didn't even need it because social media is that crazy," said Ost.

She explained: Someone would buy a clutch for an event, post a picture online and then their friends and followers would seek out Ost for a bag. She also shared how going to dinner with friends can lead to customers.

"I would just put the bag on the table, someone would see it, walk up to me and place an order," she said.

While her business, Blocked, started with monogrammed clutches, the most popular style is clutches with names on them, like the one she created for PhillyVoice as an example.

"A lot of people are getting them as bridal gifts with Mrs. and their new last name. It's a great, affordable gift," said Ost.

Carroll -  Allison Ost HandbagsThom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Two clear bags created by Ost.

Her "Game Day" purses are also popular. The Linc has a strict bag policy for Eagles games and Ost's clutches are both practical and fashionable. Sports fans can choose what decals they want to support their favorite team.

For any of the customizable clutches, it takes 2-3 weeks from when an order is submitted to when the customer receives it. Most of the bags are priced at $85, but they range from $65 to $95.

"I hope to expand. I hope to hire people to help me because it's a lot with a full-time job, working six days a week, and also sometimes I'm up until 4 a.m. in the morning. I do it all myself," said Ost.

Overall, though, growing Blocked has been a rewarding experience for her.

"I love every customer. Every customer who messages me [on Instagram] I get to know. So, 700 people bought bags and that's how many people I've met. I'm really happy and proud of that," she said.

"The personal connection is just a really special thing."

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