Monica Lewinsky. Put that name in the Google search engine and you get 137,000 hits, even three years after she suddenly became a public figure because of her relationship with President Clinton. The Internet played a major role in her unwanted fame, providing a conduit for a steady stream of news, accusations, rumors and jokes.
Now, Lewinsky is hoping to turn the tables and use the Internet to her own advantage. She and a group of investors have a Web site, at http://www.therealmonica.com, to display and sell a line of handbags that she designed, ranging from totes to messenger bags.
Lewinsky, 27, lives in New York City.
DESKTOP: I have a Hewlett-Packard that is about a year old. The majority of the time, I use it for going on the Internet and doing research on other sites--how they present products and do things in general. Sometimes, I go to Britannica.com to do a search and see what ideas it pokes into my head.
Q. These searches help you get ideas for your designs?
Not really. I use them more after a bag is designed to help figure out how to describe it on our site. For example, we have a bag that has a Renaissance flavor; I will go to Britannica to get ideas for how to define it. We also have a bag called Bohemian Rhapsody and another called Red Diamond. I put the titles in a search engine and see what comes up.
LAPTOP: A Sony Vaio. I use it when I travel, mostly for e-mail having to do with the business. E-mail is amazing for that. Half my partners are in Louisiana, where the bags are manufactured. Rather than have a conference call every day, we can e-mail.
Q. You don't keep in touch with family and friends by e-mail when you are traveling?
Not much, because up until the last few months I didn't feel comfortable that my e-mail would not be subpoenable. I had experienced that, and I did not want to put myself or my friends through having their mail made public, again.
HAND-HELD: It's a Palm V. I got my brother to do the hard part: put in all my names and addresses. I got him his own Palm for a gift. Mine also has my schedule on it.
Q. Has it changed the way you organize your schedule?
Not really too much. It's more just a replacement for my Filofax. I got it after having left my Filofax in taxis three times.
Q. People returned Monica Lewinsky's Filofax?
Yes, every time! I was very lucky. I guess none of those people who found it were journalists.
BOOKMARKED SITES: Besides Britannica.com, I use Google for my searches. I also like to go to Vivianlives.com--it's a women's site that is about trendy shopping and lifestyles. As an online boutique, I think it's really neat-looking, and it certainly has a similar customer base to one of our demographics.
I also go to EBay sometimes--I have a thing for antiques. I bought a Varga print there and a Barbola mirror that I like a lot.
Q. Do you ever look at those 137,000 sites that mention you?
No. There is no need to do that. Maybe if all those people wanted to look at handbags, there would be. . . . [She laughs] This is not making sense. I think I'll leave it there.
Q. The Internet has been kind of a double-edged sword for you.
I think people have not quite gotten their hands around the speed at which information can be disseminated online. It can be a problem when the information is inaccurate--there is no control for that. But at the same time, the Internet is neat because it connects the entire world together at once.
CELL PHONE: It's attached at the hip. I use it all the time. I have a Nokia, one of the little ones.
FAVORITE TECH TOY: That would be the cell phone. And the laptop. I try to travel with as little equipment as possible. We have these great new messenger bags that have a padded pouch for laptops.
HOME THEATER: My goodness, you must think I have an affluent life. I have a TV, but I don't watch it very much. No flat screen or anything like that. I play my stereo a lot--I like every kind of music except country.
--As told to DAVID COLKER