Going to the local fitness center for a platform (paddle) tennis game, for example, often requires the balancing act of a gym bag, purse, and sometimes even an extra equipment bag.
Meredith Drake and Joann Jacks, both of Lake Forest, sought to remedy this dilemma when they started Cartwheel Design, a business that specializes in locally made platform tennis bags. Both stylish and practical, these bags feature an outer paddle compartment, as well as inner compartments to hold all of your miscellaneous items. The bags also come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and patterns and can be custom-ordered to fit any style.
Meredith, an active platform tennis player for many years, was first inspired to create the bags in 2008. As she put her paddle in her bag after a game, she accidentally scratched her sunglasses, which inspired her to search for a better tote. Though she found some platform tennis bags on the market, the options were limited. She then began making her own bags, which she gave as gifts and made for friends who requested them. She eventually became close friends with Joann through their involvement on the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Women’s Board. Joann, who grew up as a seamstress’ daughter, was inspired by Meredith’s creations, and they decided to work together on the bags.
The best part of Meredith and Joann’s business is that all the work is done in house. They go in search of unique, high-quality fabrics together and make the bags in their own homes. Joann typically does the prep work, which includes cutting and pressing the fabric, and uses her eye for design to mix and match fabrics. Meredith and Joann’s mother, Cookie, do much of the sewing. While they have successfully created a line of pre-made bags, they are also completely open to customer suggestions and custom orders.
The bags come in a variety of colors and patterns to fit any personality. Meredith and Joann have made everything from basic black and white to leopard print with hot pink detailing. The bags also come in three styles: the Robin (a square-shaped bag with an attached paddle pouch), the Katie (an upright, rectangular-shaped bag also with an attached paddle pouch) and the Cookie (a regular tote with no paddle pouch). The Cookie, in particular, is a great option for ladies who don’t play platform tennis but still love the distinctive look of the Cartwheel Design bags.
The beauty of their bags is a direct reflection of Meredith and Joann’s deep passion for their work. Although each leads a busy life as a wife, mother, and volunteer for several organizations, they are always excited to work on their bags. As business partners, their unique skills and talents complement one another, and as friends, they enjoy the time spent together. They admit that the best part of their hard work is seeing women in the community wearing their bags around town.
As they look to the future, Meredith and Joann hope to expand their business. For now, they are focused on spreading word of Cartwheel Design to people across the North Shore. They have “introduced” their products through the St. Mary Prelude last December, and through several very successful trunk shows, which they hope to do more of in the future. Over the last year, their small business has grown and developed quickly, as more and more customers recognize the value and quality of their product.
To view or purchase the Cartwheel Design platform tennis bags, visit cartwheeldesign.co. For more information, contact Joann at 847-254-8000 or Meredith at 847-421-1698.