As MZ Wallace grew, so did his sense of purpose. Ms. Zwirner is married to German gallerist David Zwirner, and in 2011, she and Ms. Wallace Eustice launched a special edition bag, designed by artist Raymond Pettibon, to raise money for Artists For Haiti, a non-profit organization founded by Mr. Zwirner and actor Ben Stiller. Since then, they’ve produced special edition bags featuring artists and organizations such as Kerry James Marshall, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Glenn Ligon and others, with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated to a chosen nonprofit.
“I love carrying my Glenn Ligon bag because it often sparks conversations about what’s most important to me, which is art and artists,” said Thelma Golden, 57, director of the Studio Museum of Harlem, for which MZ Wallace raised nearly $100,000 with Mr. Ligon in 2014 for its artistic education programs. “It gives me the opportunity to be the museum curator that I am.”
“To me, the bag is the fabric,” said artist Nick Cave, 64, who recently designed a colorful MZ Wallace bag where all proceeds went to support the museum’s educational programs. ‘Contemporary Art of Chicago and the Facility Foundation. “It is this extension of an artistic practice. And I love the idea of it being out there in the world, being seen and recognized.”
Today, MZ Wallace employs 40 people and offers over 400 different styles. Much of its manufacturing is now done in China and Vietnam. 60 percent of its sales are made online, from its website, which was launched in 2004. Ms. Zwirner and Ms. Wallace Eustice said that in the last three years the brand has grown by 20 percent and, excluding the year of its opening, has only experienced year-over-year growth.
Ms. Eustice and Mrs. Zwirner has been approached on several occasions to sell his company, which is still privately held. They are open to the idea. But they also like where they are. They both have lunch in the office every day. They remain close friends. “We laugh,” said Ms. Wallace Eustice. “You have to have fun along the way. Otherwise, what’s the point?”