Based out of L.A., Beau + Arrow is a family business that makes high-end concealed carry purses. The small team of five consists of brother James Yen, sisters Iris and Peggy Yen, their cousin Betty Yen and good friend and graphic artist Christopher Hayden. The Yen clan hails from Springfield, Missouri and the girls grew up shooting firearms with their brother. One Christmas Iris Yen was looking for a present for her brother's wife, who is also an avid shooter. She was pregnant at the time, and was having trouble making on-body CCW work. Iris thought a concealed carry purse might be a great present, but couldn't find anything that fit her sister-in-law's style. "I thought, I have experience in this industry, so I should do it myself," says Yen. "That's what led to the creation of Beau + Arrow."
With a background in the fashion industry, working under top designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren, Nicole Miller and Cynthia Rowley to name a few, the creators of Beau + Arrow saw a need for stylish purses that women will want to wear every day, that also allow them to carry.
We spoke to Beau + Arrow's Iris Yen, and this is what she had to say about the new company:
NRA Family: How has it been working together as a family?
Iris Yen: Our family is very supportive of our business, and really believe in the American dream. For us it's been pretty smooth. I don't want to jinx it, but we have clearly defined roles and different strengths and that's what's helped us along. My brother is an avid shooter, and has been a big help since he's an expert with firearms and got us into shooting.
NRA Family: What's the process been like getting off the ground?
Iris Yen: I think being an entrepreneur in general is challenging. There are barriers you don't foresee when you first start, but I think a lot of optimism and family support help you get there. That's kind of what we did. We started on July 4, Independence Day, which was my independence as well, leaving the corporate world. I thought, I can only be happy pursuing my own passions. Louis Vuitton is never going to make a concealed carry purse. Yes, your Louis purse is beautiful and you want to carry it every day, but where do you put your firearm without it being a safety hazard? That's why we wanted to create the essential purse: great quality, high-end design. Most of the leather comes from Texas. It's called American Charmeuse leather. The harder leather we use is called Kobe and it comes from Japan. We manufacture at the same place as Michael Kors in Hong Kong.
NRA Family: What's a typical MSRP for the purses?
Iris Yen:They range between $405-$595, right in that sweet spot with Coach and Michael Kors.
NRA Family: How are you, as a new company, intending to reach your audience?
Iris Yen: Well for us it's a whole new world out there in terms of marketing, especially to the younger generation, and we would really like to get the younger generation into shooting sports. So we're really going after that with social media and digital advertising. We like to make our own videos.
NRA Family: In terms of bringing people in: If someone isn't into carrying concealed, but likes your bags, what are you doing to bring them into the fold?
Iris Yen: One of our strategies is we want to connect with women's gun clubs across the country and advertise concealed carry courses with our handbags. If you're thinking about becoming a shooter or taking a class, we want to do a cross-promotion with those clubs. And then possibly offering promotions or discounts.
NRA Family: Can you tell us a bit about the bags you offer?
Iris Yen:One of the things we saw out there was that if you bought a concealed carry purse it was very obviously a carry purse. That, for us, wasn't ideal. We wanted a purse you could carry that people wouldn't suspect. We created these bags in some already popular styles, but also some innovative body styles we did ourselves. They're everything from a very small cross-body envelope to a quite large tote. Our tote is our favorite because it has a padded laptop sleeve inside that fits up to a 17-inch laptop. The best part is this is the one we gifted to my sister-in-law. She's a school teacher and she carries this bag every day with or without her firearm. We're discovering that people just want the purse, but we're offering the option of carrying your piece with you.
We took a lot of thought when we created the purses, like the ambidextrous design. We wanted it to be truly ambidextrous, so the concealed carry portion is always pass through. With our holsters, we created them with EGA Custom Kydex, which is based in our hometown. Grant LaVelle, who owns Maximum Life Expectancy Tactical Firearms Training, was in the marines and trains the police forces in southwest Missouri, and creates his won custom Kydex. He consulted with us on the holsters and we created a really strong holster with a trigger guard. It's adjustable and removable, with hook-and-loop backing on both sides of the concealed carry compartment.
Eventually we want to setup a portal to customize your holster, but as of right now our holster is one-size-fits-most. It comes with the purchase of the bag. Grant LaVelle measured a multitude of handguns for us to see if they would fit in the bag. We made sure that each of the openings on our bags are at least 7-1/2 inches.
We try to use American materials and production where we can, and would love to bring the production here to the U.S. The problem is when you're starting out they don't accept smaller batches of orders here. It has to be worth their while, and right now we're not. But as more and more people support our lines we can start bringing production over, but most of the materials are from the U.S.
NRA Family: With the Jane bag it seems like having the concealed carry section located on the bottom of the bag might make for an awkward draw. How would you address that?
Iris Yen: We wanted to create some bags that are more about the look, and getting your firearms from one place to another or taking it to the range over being solely for concealed carry. This is our one bag that we do recognize is geared more towards fashion than the draw.
NRA Family: For someone who buys your purse just for the look, but doesn't shoot, is there any information that comes with the bag to open them up to the idea of concealed carry or self-defense?
Iris Yen:We are creating hang tags that go inside the purses that invite them to our website, where there's a whole educational section with the blog that we're doing.