While Paris is home to many boutiques that stock homemade and regional products, sites like Etsy and its French counterpart, A Little Market, offer browsers who can’t make it to the shops in Paris this year the opportunity to support local artisans and enjoy a little Parisian-style online retailing.
Even though I live in Paris, I often check out Etsy to look for local designers. That’s how I discovered Feyza Demitras, founder of Ika Bags. Feyza’s bags are unpretentious and practical, embracing a bold and colorful style. These handmade-to-order sacks can hold your groceries as well as hold their own among Parisian street styles.
I love to hear stories of people who ditch their day job to pursue a creative calling, and that’s why I appreciated learning that more than 10 years ago Feyza left her job as an office director for a furniture company and dedicated herself full-time to her bag business. The designer wakes every morning at 6:30 to prepare her children for school and works nonstop, making her unique creations and preparing packages to be shipped to eagerly awaiting customers.
The designer manages to enjoy the city in her free time, with regular visits to the shops in Paris, with stops at the organic markets and fabric stores to hunt down inspiring new fabrics. These excursions seem to have an influence on her bag designs. Once I saw her Ika line, I imagined sporting one of the sizable sacks to the market and stuffing it with organic apples and artichokes.
Despite the long hours, Feyza is obviously up to the challenge of being both a mother and a small-business owner. Her Etsy site boasts rave reviews from satisfied customers, and her collections and companies continue to expand. Feyza now manages four different labels, including a line of luxury bags called Arva and a line of home decor items called Madame Houx.
There are several different styles of Ika bags (ranging from 59 to 100 euros each), with frequent new additions. My favorite is the bright yellow version of La Pomme, with its adorable old-school bike printed on the lapel. Next to the helmet, this bag is probably the coolest bike accessory you could own. Each bag can be shipped internationally once completed, but Feyza requests that you allow her 10–14 days to stitch and ship your little slice of Paris couture.