As a nanotechnology engineer, Eliana Ghantous is always mentally deconstructing the items she sees around her, thinking about their fundamental parts. Working at a lab co-owned by Boeing and General Motors, she was tasked with developing the smallest parts of big machines, like sealants for fuel tanks and tiny magnets for cars. So it’s no surprise that whenever Ghantous picked up a clutch to go to a wedding or party, the wheels in her brain began to pick the bag apart, thinking about its components.
“A clutch is something that you don’t carry all the time,” Ghantous says. “So it doesn’t make sense to have 15 different versions in your closet.”
While some might argue that building a better purse isn’t on the same scale as, say, improving how an aircraft functions, Ghantous felt passionately that handbags are an integral part of women’s daily lives, and improving their design would be a good use of her talents. So she set out to tackle the humble clutch bag, an accessory that was first invented in the 1930s so women could carry their lipstick and gloves to an event.
Ghantous assembled a dream team of expert scientists, including her husband, Sami Ghantous, an engineer who focuses on battery storage, and industrial engineer Liz Daily, who designs products with high-tech fabrics. Together, they launched the startup Modjewel–a play on the word “module”–and their very first product is a modular clutch bag.
The bag is a $198 rectangular metal clutch that comes with a strap. It’s got a vintage feel, with a geometric design, and is exactly the kind of bag you might bring to a fancy event….