December 6, 2012 /

ila Handbags / December's Featured Vendor

Congratulations to Deborah Meggitt!  You are the winner of the Frenchie handbag!  (I'm super jealous!)  Please send me your email info. I will let you know what to do next! I am super excited this ...

Congratulations to Deborah Meggitt!  You are the winner of the Frenchie handbag!  (I’m super jealous!)  Please send me your email info. I will let you know what to do next!

I am super excited this month to be featuring the sweet and amazing Paula and Brian Bjerketvedt, the creators behind ila Handbags! I took a quick snapshot of them after we met at The Spyhouse.  All other photos were taken by the artist’s or taken from their website.

And, I cannot believe this, but they are going to give one randomly chosen person their very own Frenchie Handbag!  You pick the color!  (solid colors only) Whoever wins this, I will be extremely jealous of!  All you have to do is leave a comment at the bottom of my blog by 5:00pm Friday the 7th! After you read the interview of course!

Paula made her first handbag several years ago for a friend who was getting married in Paris.  She couldn’t attend the wedding, but wanted to give her something very special and personal.  When her friends saw her amazing clutch, they all wanted one and ila Handbags officially began in 2010.  Now she sells at a few shops in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, one being Che Bella, a shop in Maryland and two shops in Singapore.  She does a line made from old Kimono’s that are popular in Singapore.  Paula does all of the designing and creating of the handbags and Brian takes care of the marketing, some of the photographs and the website.  It sounds to me like a perfect match!

Before making her first clutch, Paula started out at the University of Minnesota where she received her degree in Clothing Design.  She also worked in the display department at Anthropologie for a while, which is my favorite store, just in case you were curious!  It’s no wonder I’m in love with her handbags!

What amazes me the most about her handbags and clutches is that all of the fabric (except for the Frenchie) comes from either vintage clothing or vintage fabric scraps that she finds.  So, the majority of the handbags are limited edition!  The Frenchie is made from silk shantung, this is the only new fabric that she uses currently.  What also amazes me, is that she makes all of the handbags herself, here, in the U.S. of A.!  She has one employee who comes in every so often to help her cut the fabric, but otherwise it’s all Paula!

When I asked Paula where the name “ila” came from she told me that it was short for her grandmother’s name, Ilavern, Ilavern Swanhilde Gregory, to be exact!  She said that her grandmother was an accessory lover and she had many jewels and other items for Paula to play “dress up” with when she was a child.  Her grandmother is the “true inspiration” behind her handbags.  I find that to be so sweet.  It reminds me of the days when I would dress up in my moms clothes or my grandmothers jewelry, those days were some of the best!

A few fun facts about Paula and Brian are:

Paula listens to mainly Classic Rock, a few of her favorite musicians/bands are, Fleetwood Mac, Lana Del Rey, The Ravonettes, Gotye, She & Him and a local band called The Parlor Suite. But while she is working on her clutches she mainly listens to MPR.   When she reads, which probably isn’t very often because they have two young children, she’s most interested in Biography’s and she loves period films.

A few of Brian’s favorite bands are Death Cab for Cutie, Cold War Kids, Spoon and The Arctic Monkeys.  Brian currently spends a lot of time teaching his children how to draw!

I also thought it was cool that Paula keeps a little book of swatches from every bag that she designs.

This is definitely her dream job!  They are quite the lucky pair!

They also take custom design requests or Paula can embroider a wedding date inside your bag if you wish.  She once made a handbag out of a brides mothers wedding gown.  How’s that for special!

And for the future?  Paula says that she is interested in creating her own textile designs!  She has a fondness for historical fabrics, so I can’t wait to see what she come’s up with!  She also mentioned that she will be looking for an intern with sewing experience in the near future, so check out their website and send her a message if you are interested!

I am crazy about these clutches!  Maybe if my husband reads this he will realize that I have a birthday coming up sometime soon!  My current favorites are:

Gold & Orange Deco

The Muse



Yes, I am a fancy girl in my heart!

Remember to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for the FREE FRENCHIE HANDBAG!  You have until 5:00pm on Friday the 7th to enter!




This is wonderful! Thank you, thank you! My email address is

What a great article! It’s been so fun to get to know them & see the teamwork. and I LOVE the clutches as well. so stylish!

I did daycare for Paula and Brian’s oldest son and a few times for their youngest. Handsome and smart boys and knew their parents were young and fairly new in their jobs. I had no idea their goals and dreams and I am amazed to read this story since I am no longer in contact with them. What a inspiration to follow your dreams, that if you put your talents together you can create a successful business, and that husband and wife can work together in their jobs and not just as parents. Truly amazing! Congratulations Paula and Brian:)

Paula and Brian. So proud of a great business venture and so awesome that it utilizes both of your talents. The bags are gorgeous and some day I’m going to have one. Keep up the great work. I’ll see you at the top!!!

Fun to see. I knew Brian when we were kids. Great article and fabulous bags!

Paula’s talent never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think, “Wow, she’s really outdone herself, this is the most beautiful thing she’s made,” she always proves me wrong with her next creation. I aspire to hone my talents like Paula has.
Also, whenever I do walk down the isle, I HAVE to have one of these handbags with me that day.

Beautiful! You are so talented Paula! Way to follow your heart and dreams.

I had the privilege of working with Paula years ago and could not be more impressed or inspired by her lovely handbag collection. She’s one of the most easy-elegance gals I know. Good for her & for Brian, too.

I love my ila handbag which was a gift for my 40th birthday from my husband and kids! So special!

Thank you for featuring Ila Handbags & creators Paula & Brian Bjerketvedt. I love their story! <3

Paula’s vision for glamourous versatility is apparent throughout each piece she creates. I love seeing bags that are truly unique and make a statement on their own. So lucky to have such talent right here in the midwest!

These handbags are stunning – so visually appealing! And you can definitely see the Fleetwood Mac influence. ;D

Paula, your bags are beautiful!!! It’s even more exciting to think that we knew you growing up in Madison, Wi. Congratulations on creating such cherished keepsakes for so many people. I can’t wait to get my 1 Ila bag.

I’m so impressed with Paula’s ingenuity, her style and her business. Her bags are gorgeous. She doesn’t know it, but she is an inspiration to me as I work towards starting my interior design business. Thanks Paula!

Paula and Brian, an incredible, husband and wife team, are truly a dynamic duo as I have had the honor to cross paths with them before the conception of Ila handbags.

My first Ila purchase was for my 2011 August wedding, the Blue Frenchie, to match my blued hued Madgley Mischka wedding shoes… A perfect pair! My second purchase, from the 2011 Fall/Winter collection, by my wonderful husband for our first Christmas together… a fun, textured twist, leather and suede… Love love them both! This Christmas, my eye is on the “Little Lace” box clutch.

Thank you Paula & Brian.

Beautiful handbags and I love the idea that Paula’s grandmother was the inspiration. I really need to have one of these for the dinners on our next cruise.

GREAT article on great people! The handbags are gorgeous and fun. Congrats to you both!

I love these and have been googling over them for quite some time!! Amazing work!!’

Paula is über talented and I love everything about Ila’s aesthetic. Though I had the pleasure of working with her in the past, I was still surprised to read that she doesn’t have a slew of people sewing and assembling the bags! Wishing her and Brian continued deserved success.

What an amazing couple. The creative genius of this duo is clearly the start of something very big. The entire Ila line has always had, and continues to have, that “wow!” factor. Super impressive!!

I absolutely LOVE Paula’s fresh, fun and ultra feminine handbags. She has an amazing talent. Go Paula and Brian!!

Love the handbags, and the DIY ethic of it all!

Add Your Comment