AMBITION + JAMAH Founder/Designer Nancy Gale with President Bill Clinton, presenting the JAMAH Clinton Collection.

AMBITION + JAMAH Founder/Designer Nancy Gale with President Bill Clinton, presenting the JAMAH Clinton Collection.

Nancy Gale, founder and designer of luxury handbag brand JAMAH and founder of AMBITION, a non-profit entrepreneurial program for under-served youth, celebrates her birthday on January 12th. This year marked the 5th anniversary of a true red-letter day for Gale and her brand of American-made, luxury leather handbags. It was on January 12, 2014, that Gale personally presented President Bill Clinton with three custom JAMAH bags, one for each member of the Clinton family.

Like so many great opportunities, this one was serendipitous.

After speaking at a Sure-Fire event for teen girls in 2013, Gale was approached by a mother and daughter who tearfully thanked her for her words of inspiration. The woman wanted to introduce her to an associate who she knew would love JAMAH and who also had a foundation, the Patient Safety Movement. The foundation was in the process of selecting the perfect leather bag to present to one of their high-profile supporters who was speaking at their upcoming conference. She thought an American-made, luxury brand might be the perfect fit. There were other brands being considered, but the connection between JAMAH and AMBITION and Nancy’s story were so compelling that she knew the introduction must be made.

Gale met with the foundation and learned that the supporter they wanted to gift was former president Bill Clinton, along with his wife and former senator and Secretary of State, Hillary and their daughter Chelsea. Soon after their meeting, Gale was delighted to be honored with a commission to create three customized designs for the Clinton family. They would be presented at the 2014 Patient Safety Movement Summit where President Clinton was the keynote speaker.

Gale did her research and determined that a customized version of The Rosey Special Edition would be perfect for Mrs. Clinton and The Rosey would be ideal for Chelsea. She also learned that Bill Clinton was known for leaving a trail of items behind him, in particular, his glasses, a book, his iPad and his phone. She designed a compact, utilitarian envelope style accessory that would perfectly store these items and named it, appropriately, The Clinton.

Gale was invited to the Summit at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Beach, along with a few close friends, business associates and some students from AMBITION. Coincidently, this all happened on her birthday. Seeing the former president speak and being able to share this with students was a gift for which she knew she would be forever grateful. The location added to the serendipity, as it is the final resting place of her parent’s ashes.

Gale assumed that the Foundation would give the bags to President Clinton, but just as she was finishing the step and repeat, she was beckoned to stay put as the room quickly emptied. Soon she was joined by the head of the foundation, then the Secret Service, and then Bill Clinton!

Following introductions, Gale and the former president spent the next 15 minutes discussing her designs, the importance of making them in the USA, explaining her belief in the importance of connecting cause and commerce, answering his questions about the bags and him sharing why he knew Hillary and Chelsea would love them. Gale mentioned that she had some of her students in the audience and he responded, “Really? Your students are here? Do you have time after my speech? I want to meet them!” He then alerted the Secret Service that he would be meeting Gale and her students in the kitchen when he finished his speech.

The honor of having her brand selected as a gift for an American first family was a profound acknowledgement that JAMAH was firmly positioned as a preeminent American Luxury Handbag Design House.  

Yet at that moment, what mattered was seeing her students from AMBITION, talking with President Clinton.

“That was magic! Watching my students chat casually with a former president for 10 minutes in the kitchen of the Ritz was a moment I will never forget!”

Nancy Gale and AMBITION student representatives meet with President Bill Clinton.

Nancy Gale and AMBITION student representatives meet with President Bill Clinton.

Beth Hinckley