From Hangbags to Hand Poured
After attending the Fashion Design Program at Ryerson University, I quickly realized that opportunities in the city were few and far between. I found myself in jobs that were out of alignment with my passion and constantly commuting across the city. I felt stuck.
One day, as I was leaving the office, I noticed how many bags I was carrying – not only at this moment but constantly.
My bag lady struggles got me seriously thinking about handbag design.
Somehow, it was near impossible to strike a balance between functionality and affordability without compromising design.
But it wasn’t until I was offered a promotion, struck by pangs of resistance, that I realized if I wanted a career I felt passionate about, I’d have to let go.
I was going for it. I applied to an intensive Handbag Design Program in Florence to learn from those who lived and breathed the craft. Ironically, I’d attend a school I dreamed of going to when I was only 16.
I was sure I wanted to produce the bags in Italy – the knowledge, attention to detail and craftsmanship were unparalleled.
After the program, finding someone to manufacture for me, Kiara Ventrella a nobody in the land of Luxury Designers, was quite the task.
After an unsuccessful trip to Italy, back home and slow to admit defeat, I made a sarcastic remark in the Toronto Apple Store, in response to a query of what I do for a living. “Trying to design hangbags without a manufacturer.”
Little did I know, this was a chance encounter – this guy actually knew a manufacturer in Italy, Genius!
Suddenly, I was travelling between their NY and Florence studios. Spending hours creating and refining designs, picking and testing the materials, hardware and fine-tuning details.
All was moving along when I got a call that Italy was locking down. With this endeavour on hold, frightened for the wellbeing of the team and my extended family.
I realized it would be a great deal of time before I would visit Italy, let alone launch my business.
I reminisced constantly about the times spent in Italy and how much I missed every little thing about it. I found myself spending more time with my grandparents, two very special members of my bubble, and their fragrant Italian cooking.
I remembered how scent triggers memories and set out to create a collection of candles that would trigger fond memoirs from overseas.
If we couldn't go to Italy, I wanted to be able to bring Italy home. Thus, Chiaroscuro was born.
Light + Clear + Luminous
Dark + Obscure
An art technique synonymous with Italian Renaissance. On a more personal note, Chiaroscuro influenced my parents naming me Kiara.
Scents of Italy, Hand-Poured in Canada.