Laura J. Shape

Several years ago I woke up to find my portfolio was gone.

I'll tell you the story, but first, I'm Laura J. Shape, artist and owner of Viv & Edie. I'm a compulsive smoother, am fussy about detail, and have an overwhelming need to make stuff. I'm inspired by a million things – tile, wallpaper, antique jewelry, old book covers, you name it. I collect art and I work hard to make my art worthy of collection, too.  

I've learned a lot of skills working in different media, and I love making clutch bags because it lets me use them all. I treat my clutches like sculptures, hand-making each of them one at a time in my Denver studio. I use only the best materials, like exotic skins, Italian leathers, and solid brass hardware. Working this way takes a lot of time. An individual bag can take weeks to design and build, so I only make a few dozen a year. But the end result is more than just something to carry around your phone and keys in. It's a beautiful piece of art you can wear and take with you wherever you want. And just like you, it will always be unique, special and one of a kind.

Now back to the story.

I'd stayed out late the night before, and it turns out I'd accidentally left a side door to my house unlocked. I lived in Venice Beach at the time, which, for being in the middle of Los Angeles was usually surprisingly safe. Unfortunately, that night it wasn't. The burglar let himself in while I was out partying. Ironically, the only things he took out of the entire house were my laptop and portfolio (the former fit into the latter as a carrying case). So, in one fell swoop all of my design history was gone.

Up to that point I was a graphic designer and had spent much of my career creating websites for a bunch of interesting and important-sounding startup companies that mostly didn't even exist anymore. Which meant after what felt like a billion years of busting ass, skipping holidays, and not taking enough vacations, all the work I'd done had vanished.  

That totally sucked.

Soon after, I saw a pair of breathtaking earrings in a museum and was surprised to learn they were from Greece and about 2,000 years old. They were so gorgeous and so artfully made that even though the artist lived a long time ago and in a very different place, the beauty of his work still spoke to me.  

Until that moment I believed beauty was frivolous – making pretty things just to make pretty things wasn't a noble enough goal, and doing it as a career was a waste of time. But I'd just experienced proof beauty can transcend language, culture, and thousands of years to connect strangers. This unnamed artist was long dead and otherwise forgotten, but he totally changed my life.

My "important" work was gone. His "pretty" work had lasted. 

So I decided to start a new career. I ditched digital design to work with my hands and create beautiful things that, hopefully, speak to strangers and last for generations.

The result is Viv & Edie. I hope you love it as much as I do. 

Wait, what? If you're Laura, who are Viv & Edie?

Viv & Edie are my imaginary muses. They're a combination of all the women I love and try to be. They're funny, interesting, and well-traveled. They love a good brunch, a good cocktail, and a good book. They're effortlessly chic with a touch of glam and are always down for a good time. They're curious, adventurous, and like to keep it fresh. Sometimes they drop F bombs. They're a little Palm Springs, a little Studio 54, and a little this picture.

What do people say about your work?

"Laura is a genuine wonderful person creating a super fun bag. I have one and absolutely love it. I will buy more."
- Tracy M

"So happy to arrive home to my gorgeous Viv & Edie bag! From the packaging to all the details, everything is so lovely!"
- Lea Ann H

"I don't typically buy expensive bags, but when I opened my delivery from Viv & Edie, I felt very well cared for."
- Amy Jo P

"I absolutely love my new bag."
- Michelle F