Belle Features: Ila Handbags

What fun we have when we get to sit down with an awesome vendor friend (or "friendors" as we in the industry geekily sometimes refer to them) and get to learn more about what exactly it is they do...and why?  Today photographer Whitney Anderson and I dove into the story of ila handbags, and how designer Paula Bjerketvedt created her brand!

Tell me a little bit about your business and how you started your journey towards creating ila handbags?

"I've always had a passion for design, specifically textile design.  I knew I wanted to pursue a career in a creative field and have always been drawn to fashion, textiles & history. I graduated with a clothing design degree from the University of Minnesota. I landed a job out of college, I worked as a visual display coordinator at a larger clothing retailer and got a lot of good experience for 4 years. I then moved on to work for Anthropologie. I was the Visual & Merchandising Manger for the Minnesota stores for over 5 years.  It was wonderful & innovative retailer to work for. They truly embraced creativity and originality with in each store.
It was at Anthropologie that I became truly inspired and had dreams of branching out on my own. During this time at had gotten married and we had our first child; I was ready for something new. My husband ran a small design and branding studio in northeast Minneapolis. I started working with my husband at his studio as his project manager. After working together for over a year I started thinking a collaboration for my own business would be a good idea.
"The moment" came through an invitation to a friends wedding in Paris, France. Sadly, I wasn't able to attend her wedding but knew I wanted to give her something special. In college I had always been drawn to bags and clutches as an accessory to my clothing designs, so sketching some clutch ideas for her wedding seemed natural. I pulled my sewing machine up from the basement and got to work. After a few rounds of modifications I showed my friend a clutch and she loved it. A few friends saw the clutches and wanted one of their own. It seemed like there might be a business there so I started making more and producing other styles, etc. ila is named after my eclectic, fashionable grandmother, Illavern Gregory (ila) and was started fall of 2010.
I currently run the shop out of our home studio. My recent collaboration with a designer friend from Chicago has been wonderful. I love collaborating with other creatives and hope to do more of that in the future."

What is your favorite thing about being in the fashion industry?

"I love the creative process. From designing a print, styling a
shoot, to picking images for the it all!"

What should we know about ila handbags?
"ila (pronounced Isla) is a Minneapolis, MN based boutique handbag and design studio featuring handcrafted, limited edition clutches and totes. All bags are handmade with only the highest quality silk, cotton, wool & leather fabrics. ila's bags and clutches have been featured in publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot, WHITE magazine,  Well Wed Magazine, Minnesota Bride & MSP Weddings."


If you could make a handbag for anyone famous, who
would that be?

Sienne Miller, Jenna Lyons or Sofia Coppola!

A variety of handbags from the  Botanical Collection  and  Soho Collection

A variety of handbags from the Botanical Collection and Soho Collection

Read more about Paula, and her check out her amazing bags for every occasion here:

Botanical Collection

Soho Collection

Wedding Collection


2015 Spring / Summer Look Book


Photo Credits:  Whitney Furst Photography

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