LAKEWOOD RANCH — Sometimes, it seems like Layla Copeland squeezes more time out of a day than the 24-hour clock allows.
As the co-owner of the Serving Spoon Restaurant on Lakewood Ranch Main Street and two other locations, Copeland spends most of her days cooking, cleaning and handling whatever duties are required for the day.
But when she’s not at the restaurant, she often finds herself immersed in fabric, needle and thread.
“I have sewn my whole life,” Copeland said. “My mom taught me how to sew when I was really young. We’d make our Halloween costumes together. It kind of started that way.”
But Copeland, who turns 33 on April 7, has far bigger ambitions for her sewing skills.
She’s been designing handbags for the last few years and sells them, as well as other designs, online at www.etsy.com and at several shops in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Her designs will be featured in the upcoming 10th annual Village of the Arts Annual Brunch and Fashion Show April 9, as well.
Copeland’s interest in handbags, in particular, began about 12 years ago after she found a 1930s Japanese hand-painted silk clutch handbag at a vintage store near her grandmother’s home in Ohio.
“I saw this amazing, jaw-dropping clutch handbag,” she said. “I thought, ‘Can I afford this?’ I’m in college. I’m broke. And (then I found out it was) $4. I don’t think they knew what they had.
“That was the handbag that started the clutches,” she said. “I loved (it) so much. I still have it.”
Not wanting to wear the purse out, Copeland decided to create her own clutch — one that would feel the same, but she could use all the time and wouldn’t be as delicate. She dabbled in the effort until finishing her undergraduate degree and then worked for three years on Anna Maria Island before heading to Italy for six months.
Copeland always had wanted to live there, and after deciding to create her own opportunity to do so, she contacted a friend in Florence and signed up for art classes.
“I went on the intent of being creative for six months while living in Italy,” Copeland said. ‘That was my whole game plan. I’m going to move to Italy, live as much as I can and get my creative juices going.”
Italy’s unique papers and Copeland’s lack of a sewing machine proved a perfect combination for the Sarasota resident to create purses out of classic book-binding techniques.
After returning to the United States, Copeland began her graduate degree in fine arts at the University of Miami, where she met business partner Ravi Hertzig through the restaurant at which they both worked.
She and Hertzig decided to purchase three Serving Spoon restaurants from their previous owner almost four years ago.
Although the restaurant business keeps Copeland busy, working anywhere from 40 to 80 hours a week — mostly at the Lakewood Ranch location — she still makes time for her first love.
“I feel so good when I’m being creative,” Copeland said. “Usually, that overrides my exhaustion.
“You just feel such a sense of accomplishment,” she said. “It’s a different feeling than working in the restaurant. I’m putting my creativity into something tangible.”
Copeland said she hopes to expand her business this summer by getting her product line in stores in the Miami area.
To learn more or to view Layla Copeland’s designs, visit www.laylacopeland.com.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Copeland’s designs will be featured in the 10th Annual Village of the Arts Annual Brunch and Fashion Show
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 9
WHERE: Bits and Pieces Gallery, 1301 13th Ave. W., Village of the Arts, Bradenton
COST: $25; reservations required.
INFO: Vicki Rollo, 302-1069