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Posted: May 01, 2009

Colorado Cool Stuff: Barbara Sears Nelson handbags

Handbags are woven with fiber optics

Eric Peterson

Barbara Sears Nelson was first entranced by the potential of fiber optics in fashion in the late 1980s while she worked as a ski instructor in Aspen. But her idea sat on the shelf for 20 years.

After jobs in interior design and nonprofit administration, she launched her eponymous handbag line from Denver in 2005. “The handbags are made with really nice Italian leather, and there’s a panel woven with fiber optics,” Nelson says.

The luminescence of the latter emanates from an LED inside the bag powered by a rechargeable battery.


Nelson also makes fiber-optic table linens and sells other fiber-optic products through her business Zeralinks, and she’s not stopping there. “I have a lot of other ideas in mind,” she says. $350 to $370 retail.

Made by Barbara Sears Nelson, Denver, (303) 881-0630,

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Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at

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