Nursing sophomore Yali Derman’s bags offer style with a purpose.
Look at the bag you carry with you every day to class. Although the two of you have been through countless VP all–nighters together, the bag itself probably doesn’t mean much; it’s just something to carry your stuff.
Yali Derman, on the other hand, totes a beige bag with a colorful paisley peacock painted across the side, and it carries a lot more than her books. Derman was diagnosed with cancer at age four, and after being in the hospital for six years, she began looking for a form of expression, a way to tell her story. She took the paisley bandanas used to cover her head and made them into purses for the hospital staff to carry around.
These bags were a childhood hobby, but they grew into something much bigger when Yali was 16. After writing a letter to Make A Wish, Derman was given the opportunity to design a bag with Kate Spade. This is where Yali’s Carry On truly began. Now, Yali is a cancer survivor, and after spending six months designing the peacock emblazoned on her bags, they are available for sale in select Saks Fifth Avenue stores.
The bags are rife with symbolism and, as Yali explains, the peacock represents rebirth and renewal, the paisley in its tail represents her childhood bandanas and the vibrant colors represent the beauty of life. Looking toward the future, Yali has plans to pursue nursing in the field of pediatric oncology, because she considers her own nurses to be an inspiration. But she hopes that her handbag business will continue to prosper and help others carry on, no matter what baggage they may be carrying.
All proceeds from Yali’s Carry On benefit K.I.D.S.S. for Kids, Affiliated Organization of Children’s Memorial Hospital.
Bags can be found online at yaliscarryon.com or nearby at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bala Cynwyd.