The Belia Grace Story:
My name is Toni, the artistan behind Belia Grace Handbags and Accessories. I’ve been sewing since I took a basic sewing class in High School. My grandmother gave me her treadle sewing machine so I could continue honing my sewing skills. Over a 20+ year period I have sewn my family’s clothes. Eventually I began to sew home decor items to furnish my home with pillows, draperies, cushions, etc.
Making handbags was in my future, although I was unaware of it at the time. My love for handbags, jewlery and shoes started when I modeled for Macy’s many moons ago. When they dress you for a fashion show, they work from top to bottom. The clothes, jewelry, hats, shoes, and of course, the handbag. And, Macy’s had some of the cutest bags. I was always drawn to the small unique and brightly colored ones and bought them whenever I could afford it. And my love of handbags was born and it has never stopped.
About 12 years ago, I gifted my mother-in-law a handmade laminated handbag with cowhide leather handles. She loved it and wore it out. So I sewed another handbag similar to the original but in a more contemporary print. Both handbags were a hit with friends and strangers alike. Consequently, she encouraged me to start making handbags. I resisted the idea because it just wasn’t feasible with everything else I was doing. Two years ago she shared how strangers were again asking for my phone number hoping I would make them a custom bag. A boutique owner loved her handbag so much she told her she would carry my bags if I ever decided to make bags.
Last year, she again mentioned her bag and the many complements she had received. She even had one woman who wanted to buy it from her. While visiting with her at Thanksgiving, I took a picture of the handbag that propelled me to launch “Belia Grace.” Keep in mind that the bag is about 4-5 years old. The laminate still looks great and the cowhide handles have naturally changed color without the use of dyes.
So, I decided to make myself a handbag and it was nothing like the one I had made for my mother-in-law. I shot a picture of it and sent it by text to a good friend announcing my latest sewing project. She loved it and immediately wanted to know if I would make her one. Ironically, I was working on building inventory to sell pillows. However, when I showed others a picture of that bag and a couple of other I made, they were interested as well. So I decided that I might be headed in the wrong direction with pillows, and changed course. That’s how Belia Grace Handbags was born.
In looking to name my bag business I chose Belia Grace. Belia means beautiful in Latin and God’s promise in Hebrew. Grace means favor. God’s beautiful promise of favor and grace seemed appropriate.
I love making beautiful things and will work hard to make handbags that are made with quality materials and products. My desire is for my customers to be proud of the Belia Grace Handbags they purchase.