Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz

When Bill and also Joan young name bought your eighteenth house last year—just eight months after their last move—their son, Scott, couldn’t think it. However believing is exactly how the Martins have actually approached life end 52 years of marriage, 11 of i beg your pardon they have spent living in Naples, where their existing residence is a waterfront house in neapolitan Bay. Whether it’s remaking a home or developing their beloved Brahmin handbags, when this dynamic duo has actually a vision, they embrace it and also dive in.

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Thirty-five years ago, the Martins released their designer handbag agency from their basement, with small cash and also no accessibility to loans. Yet the pair stitched it in addition to grit, and also that they had actually in spades. Today, Brahmin stays 100-percent family-owned and also continues to flourish its luxury brand, no tiny feat in a fickle fashion industry.

Such determination is what obtained Bill v college—admittedly, top top the sixyear plan—despite having dyslexia. Yet after 15 year of climbing through the ranks at footwear market leaders prefer Florsheim, Stride Rite, and also Dexter, invoice was fired in 1980 from a firm that sold handbags and also shoes. His an initial thought was, “I’m ruined. The economic situation was bad, and I worried the I’d never obtain a job again.”

It to be a turning point the happened early on in his marital relationship to Joan, and also he says her optimism aided him check out the setback as an chance to start their very own accessories company. Once deciding top top what to sell, castle knew it would not it is in shoes, in component because invoice was well conscious of the pitfalls in that category, including inventory considerations as soon as you have to lug multiple sizes and also widths for each style.

“Handbags that is!” bill told Joan. “They don’t have to fit—and what mrs doesn’t prefer them?”

Joan had actually no experience “other than great taste, great looks, and also the ability to razzle dazzle people,” claims Bill. Yet he had actually faith.

“She’s artistic and also clever, and also I rental the contractors and handle the bills.”

Time has done nothing to erode the couple’s affection, admiration, and also faith in each other. “I remember the very first time I saw him and also thought ‘Cute!’” says Joan, that spotted invoice in their high college corridor one morning. “He wore a blazer, i beg your pardon was unusual for windy schools back then. He to be much much more interesting and worldly than many boys due to the fact that he flew his own airplane and offered cool next on his family’s farm.”

The 6,000-square foot waterfront residence designed by, Stofft Cooney Architects, winner Sand disagreement Awards for ideal house and also best pool.

While it might be hard to conceive of Bill as anything but confident, when he very first noticed the effervescent, fair-haired Joan, she claims he ended up being tongue-tied.

“He’d have actually a shared friend call me and ask if I’d go out through him,” Joan recalls. “I’d say, ‘If he’d favor a date he needs to speak to me himself!’ It take it him several years.”

When Bill and also Joan married, she concentrated on increasing their family. V a penchant because that fashion and design, she would make clothing for your children, Scott and Sandy. As for Bill, he applied his discipline and also affinity for order to manufacturing—first shoes, currently handbags.

In October 1982, lock converted their basement playroom into Joan’s design studio and the barn right into a factory, wherein Bill would cut her fads in Italian leather.Then life in Hingham, Massachusetts, the Martins determined the name Brahmin come reflect your deep Boston roots and their target audience: the elite through discerning taste.

For three years, Joan flew throughout the country trying come court room stores. No a nibble. Undeterred, she studied chains’ wares, asked inquiries to broaden her skills, and drew trends on flights home. “I learned ~ above the job,” add to Joan, who would tear personally handbags to number out just how to assemble them.

Sliding doors open to a spacious lanai, lush greenery, and also vanishing pool encountering the bay.

Despite Joan’s devotion, the Martins were on your own; the recession and their inexperience surrendered no bank loans. “We sold everything however the children for financing,” Joan claims jokingly.

They kept Brahmin afloat by hosting Tupperware-style sales parties in friends’ homes, while Bill’s mother in Naples marketed handbags the end of the ago of she car. Those were skinny years.

“My travel spending plan was less than $50 a day because that hotel and also food,” Joan recalls. “I to be thrilled when I was invited to seminars, due to the fact that they had actually coffee and also doughnuts.”

In hindsight, the absence of a financial cushion was a blessing. Today, the Fairhaven, Massachusetts–based Brahmin handbags are marketed at much more than 750 retail locations across the country and staff has actually grown native a family members of 4 to around 250.

The popular of the bags appears to stem from the Martins’ emphasis on role as much as fashion. Brahmin bags was standing out v a mix of crocodile and also snakeskin textures in nuanced gradations of colors. But what truly sets them apart space the details.

Bag interiors are light-hued. “If they’re dark it’s choose looking into a dungeon,” Joan says. A backside bag fits a boarding pass, straps readjust by pressing a switch (avoiding lengthy tongues), and the interior has actually pen slots and pockets sized for sunglasses, cocktail rings, or credit cards. The crucial clip dangles ~ above a long inner strap, so you deserve to open doors without detaching the from the bag. And also tote handles have actually a squishy interior—neoprene tubing used by auto shops—so they nothing dig.

The Martins’ homes, as with their purses, present a emphasis not just on style, but additionally function. Their brand-new Naples home deserve to fête many charities and also accommodate their two children and also six grandchildren, ages 6 come 18.

Family photos and sailing prints heat the walls, while version sailboats are discovered throughout the home- a nod to the marital relationship of business and also family.

The pair also host charity dinners aboard their Horizon luxury catamaran, called Lil after Joan’s mother, to advantage the neapolitan Winter wine Festival (NWWF). The annual festival is the main fundraising vehicle for the neapolitan Children and also Education Foundation, among the Martins’ favorite causes. The couple recently came to be honorary trustees of the non-profit organization, i m sorry supports many programs that serve the neediest children in Collier County.

“Naples is together a offering community,” Joan says. “We love come entertain and also are cursed to charities that help Collier County’s underprivileged and at-risk children.”All couples attending the NWWF’s live auctions are gifted Brahmin handbags. This year alone the Martins donated 350—one for each female guest—amounting to a total of 1,400 handbags over four years.

Those stylish purses also take center stage in Joan’s custom finishing room, alongside their grasp bedroom. The 8-by-8-foot closet flaunts 40 of the latest and greatest Brahmin bags on 12-inch deep shelves through individual LED accent lights. Shoes are displayed beneath, while jewelry, wraps, and also cardigans are concealed behind adjustable mirrors.

“My goal to be to make it basic for me to coordinate my last look,” she says. “I try to keep only current bags since my friends clock me and want come order them. So i wear a different bag nearly every day.”

Making waves down the hall from her repertoire is Bill’s upstairs male cave. “Everything’s heavy, dark, and eclectic Bill,” Joan says. His love that boating extends come the home itself. He bought 2 antique Russian naval binoculars, among which overlooks the bay. Nautical nods additionally include british colonial–style sconces at the fireplace and also hanging lanterns in the ground floor halls. A smattering of sailboat prints and models ~ above the Italian buffet buoy the boating theme.

The tradition finishing room showcases dozens that Brahmin handbags that 12-inch deep shelves v individual interval lights.

“Yachting is part of Bill’s DNA,” claims Joan of she husband, who flourished up boating v his parents and three older brothers. Every summer, his dad would certainly charter a setravel sailboat in Maine or Cape ko for 2 weeks. A portrait of Bill’s great-great-great-great grandfather, Ambrose Bowen Martin, hung over his childhood fireplace—and has been in each of their dwellings since. It joins a watercolor of Ambrose’s schooner, The Raven, and placed plates native the ship. A silhouette of The crow is component of Brahmin’s logo—a reminder that the old success the has allowed the Martins to retire in Naples, which they thrived to love during visits come Bill’s parents, who moved here nearly 50 year ago.

Coming full circle, as the Martins gotten in their 70s castle were all set to coast, too—and saw a need for fresh ideas. “We didn’t desire to be the owners that won’t permit go, come the detriment of the company,” Joan says. While that was hard to hand over the wheel after ~ being affiliated so heavily for so countless years, Bill advocated Susan Thacker come chief executive, management officer in 2014. “We discovered someone in the company with extraordinary management and great taste—and that said, ‘I’m ready, coach, send me in!’’ because that the Martins, the commitment to females in management is woven into the fabric of their company.

“We do handbags for women, design by women, and also sold through women. Once I enter our conference room, I view one guy and 25 women. In ~ Brahmin, over there is no glass ceiling,” says Bill, who sails from naples to Nantucket because that a monthly check-in in ~ headquarters.

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“Taking over a service they constructed from the ground up is a huge responsibility together a non-family member,” Thacker says. “I confer with Joan on creative development and also with Bill, yet ultimately the company decisions space mine.”

Those include adding a casual soft-sided, smooth animal leather line together with accessories choose bangles, clever phone covers, coasters, and also luggage tags.

With such changes, Thacker shows up to be prove the Martins’ instincts correct. Sales have increased 60 percent because 2013, according to the company. By the finish of the year, Brahmin is expected to launch a program that will expand its reach around the globe. Thacker still calls Joan “the inspiration” because that the brand. “She has a talent for expertise what customers will certainly want,” Thacker says. “The Martins likewise have very high integrity. They never reduced quality or craftsmanship. It is why customers room so loyal.”

It’s likewise why the Martins might never truly retire. “I cannot go previous a save I recognize carries our bags there is no checking lock out,” Joan says. “Brahmin is our third child.”