CARA’S DREAM COME TRUE
EVER SINCE SHE WAS A CHILD, CARA COPPOLO HAS BEEN FASCINATED WITH THINGS OF YESTERYEAR. NOW SHE HAS TRANSLATED HER PASSION INTO AN ACCESSORIES BUSINESS.
Byline: Holly Haber
The craze for vintage apparel and accessories is nothing new to Cara Coppolo, who has been fascinated with antique style since she was a little girl. Over the last four years, she developed her passion into an accessories business called Cara Couture.
Coppolo creates one-of-a-kind handbags from old needlepoint and other fabrics gleaned from antique shows, dealers and estate sales. She dresses them up with trims, including beadwork, crystals, vintage brooches, millinery flowers and cameos. Many of the smaller bags feature handles strung with old glass beads and semiprecious stones.
“Because our bags are one of a kind, we really don’t have any limits,” said Coppolo, who lives in Austin, Tex. Coppolo started by making a needlepoint tote as a gift for a friend, who urged her to try selling them. It was a bit of a departure for Coppolo, who was working as a voice coach and classical singer. But she sewed up a batch and quickly sold 20 at a party arranged by a friend. That convinced her she was onto something, so Coppolo sewed 30 more bags and drove to Dallas, where she sold about 10 each to MaryBeth and Lady Primrose stores.
“I’ve always loved to create things,” said Coppolo. “I was always taking apart my Mom’s jewelry and making new stuff and redoing vintage clothes. I always loved fabrics, and my grandmother took my sister and me antiquing all the time.”
For October market, Coppolo will offer needlepoint handbags with scenes of dogs, people, lions, churches, fruit and horses. She’s also fond of trends inspired by the film “Moulin Rouge” and has created little velvet and silk evening bags with flourishes of flowers, cameos, lace and beadwork.
The bags wholesale from $75 to $140, and company sales are expected to hit $200,000 this year.
When the business began to grow last year, Coppolo lured her sister back to Texas from New York, where she worked at an advertising agency. Meredith Coppolo now handles sales and administration, while Cara focuses on design.
The sisters’ synergy quickly blossomed into additional products, including embellished leather belts made from old belt straps and jewelry.
Cara Couture’s belts include old tooled cowboy belts that have been painted or gussied up with crystals, vintage buckles and cameos. Some can be reproduced, and they wholesale for $75. One-of-a-kind belts are $150.
The sisters’ two jewelry lines also are sold under the Cara Couture label. The lower-priced group is casual and trendy, offering suede necklaces embellished with sterling charms or pave crystal disco balls. Wholesaling from $12 to $24, the line also has crystals strung onto gold and silver metal chains.
A higher-priced collection is more dressed up and classic, styled with freshwater pearls and semiprecious stones. It wholesales from $22 to $80.
The line can be seen in Gavin’s showroom in room 4G23 of the International Apparel Mart.
About 150 stores carry the line, including Julian Gold in San Antonio and Elements in Dallas.