How One Black-Owned Brand’s Handbag Became a Pandemic Hit

A Capitol Hill mom of two is behind Gabrielle Ginger.

Gabrielle Mallory, owner and founder of Gabrielle Ginger.

When Gabrielle Mallory launched her lifestyle and accessory brand, Gabrielle Ginger, back in 2017, it was just a side hustle. The Capitol Hill resident—a mother of two who works as a foreign-affairs officer at the State Department—often spent her day going from meetings to work events to picking up her kids, and says she was looking for a versatile yet stylish bag to suit her lifestyle. Her first product, the Peyton—a functional, beautiful handcrafted leather bag that sells for $325—was designed to meet these needs.

Then the pandemic hit and the on-the-go DC lifestyle came to a halt. Yet, starting in the fall of 2020, Mallory was surprised to see an increasing amount of orders for not just her best-selling bag, but other luxury products, too. “We’ve really been going gangbusters ever since,” says Mallory, who had her best year ever in 2020. She says she thinks Gabrielle Ginger—the brand’s name combines her first and middle names—benefitted from a variety of factors: the shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce during the pandemic, as well as movements to both shop local and to shop Black-owned businesses. She says that she has always been strategic about promoting her brand: “It was amazing to see how social media impacted sales and just the desire for people to want to shop small.” Her customers are not just DC-based; she’s been shipping items up and down the East Coast, from North Carolina to New York, and has had a few shipments go out west. 

While Mallory has no design background, she apparently has a knack for visualizing  and creating accessories. “I design the products and consult with specialists, including a New York-based manufacturer, Clutch Made,” she says. “But, the final product is 100-percent my design specifications.”

While Mallory says the Peyton bag is “the cornerstone” of her brand, Gabrielle Ginger’s wares now also include scarves made of European linen, woven straw hats sourced from Ecuador, leather clutches, and one-of-a-kind hand-designed serving platters. Her goal, she says, is to provide “elegant, simple, and clean designs.” 

The Peyton bag, Gabrielle Ginger’s best-selling product.

“Gabrielle Ginger feeds my soul. I do all the packaging and shipping and make sure to take my time with each so that is feels special,” says Mallory. She still works her day job; the accessories gig is still a passion project: “My garage is consumed with products and we have a storage unit to hold some materials, but we’re looking at a small place where we can do more packaging. My hope is that we will continue to grow at a steady pace, so I can keep doing what I love for the next 50 years.”

Assistant Editor, Washingtonian Weddings

Jacqueline comes to Washingtonian with close to five years of digital content experience and SEO best practices. She previously was a senior editorial associate at WeddingWire, specializing in wedding fashion, and before that, an assistant at Vow Bride. Originally from Norfolk, Virginia, she now lives in Columbia Heights.