This is a longish post, but stick with me—it’s worth it!
A few years back, I won an amazing contest from Lily Jade. I nominated two friends to win one of their diaper bags and if chosen, all three of us won a bag—and I was picked! The coolest thing was my third friend knew I was having a hard time choosing between two bags, so they gave me their choice as a gift, meaning I got two amazing (and very pricey) leather diaper bags. I was ecstatic. Well, over the course of a year or two, I got way less excited about those bags. Let me tell you a bit about why.
The first one—my everyday bag—was the Shaylee with zippered pockets in Brandy with Gold. After about a year and half, the sort of plasticky trim on the side of the handles started cracking. If you’ve ever owned a cheap bag from say, Target or Old Navy, you know the stuff I mean. When it started peeling off, I reached out to Lily Jade to see about repairing the handles. I knew the bag was out of warranty and offered to pay for the repair, but they said they didn’t do repairs and didn’t know what kind of business would. I was exceedingly disappointed in both the bag and the service.
At the same time, I noticed that the bottom corners were starting to wear, especially the trim that ran around the bottom of the bag. Then one day I found that a hole had worn through the leather and the trim was sticking out. Okay, mine may have been free, but this is a $345.00 bag. I had expected better. But I loved this bag—the shape, the pockets, how much it carried. It’s a thoughtfully designed bag. But it looked terrible. So why not switch to the other bag?
Well, the other bag I got—the one from my friend—was the Elizabeth in Camel and Gold. This was the one I thought I’d like best, but it turned out the shape didn’t work as well for me as the Shaylee, so this had become my dress bag. And the first time I used it, the zipper split. It was still under warranty, and Lily Jade’s customer service was awesome; I’ve had no problems with the zipper since, either. But you know what? Although they changed the design of the handles and got rid of the plasticky stuff, the bottom still has similar trim to the Shaylee. Even though I’ve only used it handful of times, I can see the same wear happening. I use this bag as little as possible so that I can keep it in good shape for when I need a hand bag that’s more structured and “fancy” looking than my Shaylee. (And not completely falling apart at this point, tbh.)
I kept thinking about writing reviews about my disappointment in the quality of these bags on Lily Jade’s website, but every review I read on the site was glowing. All about the “buttery leather” and amazing quality. And the company would feature years-old bags on their Instagram every now and then and they looked gorgeous. So what was up with mine?! I had even used the leather treatment Lily Jade sells! Ultimately, though, I felt bad complaining about bags I didn’t pay for, and I ended up not leaving the reviews. Why am I sharing my opinions now, then?
I also noticed something else as I looked at the website. The things that had gone wrong with my bags? The peeling trim on the handles for example? It wasn’t there anymore. The handles were folded over and stitched. The trim on the bottom where the hole in the leather wore through one bag and that was wearing on the other? It’s not on either bag anymore. Lily Jade is a young company, founded in 2013, and my bags were from around Christmas 2015 or New Year’s 2016, if I remember correctly. (I’ve been dragging the ratty Shaylee around for a while. Like I said, disappointed in the quality, but I really love the design.) It would seem they’ve learned a lot and continued to develop their product since then. That’s one more reason I felt bad leaving negative reviews—they didn’t apply to the current product.
And then Lily Jade came out with a new leather treatment, the Old English. The way they described it sounded so beautiful: “Tanned and finished with the finest oils and waxes, your bag reacts to your touch to reveal its complex coloring.” I love leather that’s designed to scuff and get a little beat-up—not fall apart mind you. I’m thinking, like beautiful old trunks and luggage. So because I love the design of the Shaylee so much, I decided to take a risk and ask for a new one for Christmas. It just arrived a week ago and I am so glad I did!
I finally understand what all those reviews meant with the “buttery leather” talk. This bag is so completely different than my other Shaylee it may as well be a different bag made of different material. Out of the box, it was strong and held its shape—although it’s starting to soften up some now that I’ve been carrying it for a week, and I’m grateful for that because it was a bit boxy and stiff.
Like the other Lily Jade bags in their diaper bag line, the Shaylee in Old English comes with a changing mat and an inner liner with twelve pockets (six outside and three inside, plus two elasticized pockets inside and one zipper pocket inside). The liner is removable so you can fill it with baby’s things and leave the liner behind with a sitter, the grandparents, daycare, etc., while taking the rest of the bag (and your own things) with you. The bag itself has three exterior zipper pockets two open interior pockets, and one interior zipper pocket.
I’m well past diaper bag stage, so I don’t use the liner. Instead, I take full advantage of all those built-in pockets. I also pack my bag with small packing cases and switch those from bag to bag, leaving out the ones I don’t need (like the one with a deck of cards and a tape measure) on date night, for example. I got my cases before Lily Jade came out with theirs, but they do have cases that match the lining of the bag, which in the case of this bag is a gorgeous jade color. Oh! And one more thing that makes this bag amazing. Not only are the handles long enough that you can comfortable wear the Shaylee on your shoulder, it comes with a strap that allows you to wear the bag with a longer drop on one shoulder. It gets better though, because that strap is adjustable so you can wear the bag cross-body or turn the bag into a backpack. Yup. This baby’s totally convertible. Now do you see why I was so unwilling to give mine up, even when it was falling apart? Lily Jade thought of everything.
After three weeks of being carried everywhere, being left on various floors, being tossed in seats and chairs, and being overstuffed with my daily load plus heavy reusable water bottles because apparently Illinois is as dry as the Sahara, there is absolutely no wear to the bottom or corners of my new bag. And normally I’d say that’s not really enough time to know if the bag will show wear or not, but it certainly was enough time to know with my Elizabeth, so I’m feeling pretty confident right now. As I mentioned above, the plasticky trim on the handles is gone, and so is the trim that wore through the leather on the bottom the bag, which are the two problem areas I had with my last Shaylee. So far, I’m thrilled with the improvements that Lily Jade has made in the Shaylee. I’m looking forward to years with this bag—and I can’t wait to see what the Old English leather will look like in time.