While sifting through old photos, letters and other mementos in anticipation of her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, Raleigh designer Lauren Van Hemert stumbled upon an idea that has become big business for her accessories company, Bella Bolsa.
Van Hemert began dabbling in jewelry making more than a decade ago as a stay-at-home mom, incorporating found objects such as postage stamps and letters in her pieces. Eventually, she taught herself to sew and started creating fabric handbags.
Van Hemert’s bags stay true to her love of found objects, with prints that she makes herself incorporating postcards, maps and even classic literary art images transferred to cotton or faux-suede fabric.
“I cut the pattern pieces to focus in on the best part of the image, and I spend a great deal of time cutting and sewing the lining and pockets,” she says. “All of the wristlets and wallets have five pockets, including four credit card slots to make the bag functional for running errands or an evening out.”
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But it was her parents’ photos and love letters that opened up a new avenue for Van Hemert’s business. As she’d done with her other bags, the designer scanned the pictures and notes using Photoshop and digital fabric printing, creating a handbag that honored her parents’ romance.
Since then, Van Hemert has started creating custom bags for clients, using their keepsakes to create personalized accessories. The bags range in price from $55 to $75, depending on the customization, and take two to three weeks to make.
“I love the idea of creating wearable, functional pieces that tell a story and are as unique as the person wearing it,” she says.
“I really think they’re popular because people take solace in nostalgia, and that’s why anything vintage and familial resonates with people,” she says.
Gifts made by local hands are on the bill at the Handmade Holiday Pop-Up Market at Perch Studios in Carrboro, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 26. Local artisans will offer handmade clothing, jewelry, scarves, toiletries and more. Admission is free. For more info, call 919-260-5313 or visit facebook.com/HandmadePopupMarket.
Moon & Lola in O Magazine – Again
Moon and Lola is feeling the Oprah love again. The local accessory brand’s pet ornaments were selected as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things last year. Now the company’s acrylic Calypso clutch is featured in O Magazine creative director Adam Glassman’s holiday gift guide in the December issue of the publication. Moon and Lola is now taking pre-orders for the clutch – which can be monogrammed and retails for $298 – at moonandlola.com.
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