Spotlight: Sartorial Storytelling, Bella Bolsa Designs

Lauren Van Hemert

by Mimi Montgomery

Life often imitates art, but in the case of Lauren Van Hemert’s accessories company Bella Bolsa, it’s the other way around.

The Raleighite makes and sells custom handbags with printed fabrics she designs herself, incorporating found objects like labels, postage stamps, and letters. Van Hemert has always been interested in art and design, she says, and when she moved to Raleigh 15 years ago, the stay-at-home mom started to make jewelry. From there, it was a natural transition to turn her love for ephemera into fabrics.

She hit her stride when her focus turned personal: While planning her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration, Van Hemert unearthed photo albums filled with their love letters, notes, and cards. She scanned the pieces into Photoshop, layered them, and sent the collection to be printed on fabric. The result was a bag featuring her parents’ love story; she posted it on her Etsy shop, was overwhelmed with positive feedback, and found her calling.

You, too, can tote around your favorite memories. Send Van Hemert whichever keepsakes you’d like, and she’ll create a made-to-order Bella Bolsa bag uniquely yours. “People take solace in nostalgia,” says Van Hemert. “I love creating functional pieces that tell a story and are as unique as the person carrying it.”

Take a peek at the Bella Bolsa line for yourself: Van Hemert will host a trunk show Feb. 3 at Artspace.

Feb. 3, 6 – 9 p.m.; Artspace; 201 E. Davie St.;