By: Mary Fran Bontempo

thirty-onePicture it: You’re headed out the door, loaded down with packages, food, wine bottles and, of course, your purse, the black hole, which weighs a ton and where things seem to go to disappear, never to be seen again. Before you leave, however, you have to figure out how to carry everything, so you embark on a scavenger hunt searching for bags, boxes, anything to help transport the stuff.

The result? Your carefully prepared and purchased offerings end up schlepped in old grocery bags, the half boxes you grabbed on your last trip to Costco, and a tote from TD bank, which you picked up at some convention somewhere and shoved into a drawer for just such an occasion. Oh, and you look like a bag lady.

Yeah, you’ve been there; we all have.

Enter Thrity-one, a company founded by one such overwhelmed woman determined to organize her life and her stuff. Not only organize, but organize in style.

The company presents solutions to every storage problem, both inside your home and when traveling outside of it. With categories of items labelled, “Utility,” “Totes,” “Home,” “Accessories” and my favorite, “Purses,” Thirty-one features totes, bags and storage products of all shapes and sizes. There are thermal totes for transporting food, too, many with lids that will keep your items from tumbling about in the trunk, eliminating the need to tape your dish lids on with masking tape before leaving the house. (Or maybe that’s just me. But I’m betting not.)

But these aren’t your standard totes and bags. Thirty-one does it with flair, showing multiple fabrics and patterns, even embroidery, to personalize items to your taste. One awesome idea–the “Suite Skirt Purse.” Choose a basic purse in black or brown, then change the exterior with a cover called the “Suite Skirt” to coordinate with your outfit. (See Pat Achilles’ adorable illustration of the Suite Skirt Purse below.)

My personal Thirty-one guru, Laura Pankoe (also daughter of NRFGP own Pat Achilles), did a fabulous job showing the company’s product line at a gathering last week and detailing multiple uses for the many items she presented.

If you’d like to take a look at the line, check out the link to Laura’s page, where you can access all of the company’s wares and reach Laura directly with questions or orders. (

With the holidays just around the corner (yes, it’s true!), you’ll find the best kind of gifts–useful and attractive–for every woman on your list at Thirty-one. Even better, by using Laura’s link, you can shop in your pajamas–spending Black Friday comfortably at home eating leftover apple pie and watching Christmas movies on TV. Now that’s my kind of shopping!