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Featured Shop: Leah Lerner

Dec 19, 2012

by wakeupspring

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Hi, I am Leah, the designer and creator of the shop, Leah Lerner. I live in Tel Aviv with my boyfriend, Itay, and our cat. I love creating bags and accessories that are modern, clean and simple with pops of color.

My passion for handmade products comes from my parents – my childhood home in Minnesota was filled with creativity. My mom (a children’s book writer and illustrator) and my dad (an entrepreneur and book publisher) encouraged me and my siblings to make things instead of buying them, from birthday cards to Halloween costumes. I gravitated toward fashion design, and when I was very young, they bought me my first Kenmore sewing machine. I have been sewing ever since.

The first handbag I made was a patchwork tote made from scraps of fabric I collected while working as a fashion design intern. It sparked my interest in handbag construction. While living in New York, I worked as a designer in the corporate world. Three years ago, we relocated to Tel Aviv. Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of the local designers, I decided to launch my own collection of handmade bags and accessories.

My creative process starts with sketching ideas and gathering inspiration. I get my inspiration from art and pattern books that I collect from around the world, and am influenced by the clean aesthetic of Japanese and Swedish design, as well as the raw beauty of African textiles. My favorite part of the process is combining all the bits and pieces that I gathered to form a cohesive collection.

I then sew prototypes from canvas so that I can work on the shape and size of the bag or accessory I plan to develop. I visit my local leather, fabric and hardware suppliers, and figure out which colors and materials I am going to use. I calculate the quantities of materials needed for a small batch of items, and then the cutting and sewing begins. Recently, I began screen printing my hand painted patterns onto accessories.

Someone told me that visiting my shop is like walking into a candy store of accessories — there are so many colorful options, it’s hard to pick. I try to make my items affordable so that people can buy multiple items and mix and match colors.

Having my own business is the ultimate challenge. It constantly pushes me out my comfort zone. I strive to be more efficient and to plan my schedule so that I can streamline processes — spend less time on the things I don’t like to do (accounting) and more time on the parts I love, like designing and creating.

Etsy is the perfect platform for me to share my designs, and I am grateful to be able to reach customers from so many places around the world. The Etsy community makes me feel that there are endless possibilities and that we are all connected.

All photographs by Leah Lerner.

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