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Interview with Elizabeth Copeland from Bentley & Lace

Image Courtesy of: Sierra Pearl Photography Dress by: Bentley & Lace Model: Charlotte

The best way to describe Texas-based designer Elizabeth Copeland is simply put a “Free Spirit”. Her designs speak volumes to who she is as not only a designer but also to who she is as a person. Although Copeland is an admitted free spirit when you meet her you are quickly reminded of her determination to accomplish an ambitious set of design and business goals. With over 10 years of design experience, Copeland, captures a unique aesthetic that balances playfulness with exceptional detail. There is no doubt that Her imaginative interpretations and desire to stay fresh and playful have provided a foundation for providing a clientele with not only quality pieces but also staying true to her love for being different. Copeland fully embraces the creative process and understands that quality should never be compromised. Copeland and her team of professional seamstresses have worked countless hours to provide garments that provide perfectly-fitting gowns with the highest quality. No detail is spared when creating each piece. Her love for all things vintage inspired with a hint of couture are the basis for fabric selections. Copeland only works with the finest of fabrics and trims. Her fabric of choice being lace as well as other handmade fabrics and other specialty fabrics. Each piece designed is meticulously crafted with the utmost attention to detail and quality.

Copeland’s designs have been showcased on the runway in Los Angeles, New York, Austin and Dallas. Her designs are highly sought after from stylist, photographers and brides from around the world.

Another passion for Copeland is her love for supporting and building confidence in young girls. Copeland has spent the last eight years working with young girls to help build esteem through fashion. While fashion is her passion, her mission is to continue to help young girls continue to find their confidence and know that they can achieve their dreams much like she has. Her testimony is what drives her to be the very best she can and along the way try to help others also find their dreams and passions. Copeland believes anything in this life is possible with just a little hard work and determination.

Copeland has designed and gifted to stars such as: Mackenzie Hancsicsak (little Kate) of THIS IS US, Elle Whitfield child actress for the movie Den of Thieves, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Archie Punjabi, Kate Flannery and Janina Gavankar, Alexis of Real Housewives of Orange County, Natalie Skyy, Alisa Reyes, Melissa Gorga of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, fashionista Jaime Hilfiger, Frankie Muniz, Forever and Forava, Ava Kolker, and many more.

What was the very first garment you designed and when?

Oh my goodness – Well B+Ll is my second company. I started 10 years ago designing custom designed petticoats and other girlie pieces. Several years ago my handmade cotton dresses were featured on an hour spot for TLC’S QUINTS BY SURPRISE. That is honestly when it all took off very quickly for me. I always knew I wanted to start my own collection of custom gowns. I have always loved couture with a bohemian flair. As my clients from my previous business grew – so did their love of fancier dresses. I was asked to design for weddings and other special events. A few years ago I designed my first mini couture collection for a fashion week in town.  It was such a learning experience.  The designs were based on my love of Fall. That is when truly I knew I wanted to continue to create custom pieces.

What is the most exciting (work related) thing that has ever happened to you?

The most EXCITING thing that has happened for myself on a personal level and for a brand level was being able to design a custom gown for the THIS IS US red carpet premier for  Mackenzie Hancsicsak (little Kate) of THIS IS US. It was an extremely humbling moment and was honestly very unexpected. That special night was published in People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and so many other magazines and social media accounts. I also helped to style her for the Teen Choice Awards. I honestly felt it was serendipitous. Many opportunities happen by random chance for me. My job has allowed me to travel all across the U.S. and participate in runway shows and meet awesome celebrities etc.The most cherished is when I am traveling and get to spend my time with other amazing creatives. I love attending workshops and shootouts and helping to style. Spending my time with other women in business is honestly my most cherished and valued time.

What is one mistake you made that you learned from? 

Mine is two part but honestly over 10 years there are so many lessons I have had. The one misconception I had when starting a business is that it would be easy or that it would be FUN all of the time. One thing I learned is that maintaining and turning a profit is anything but fun or easy. I have had to learn that maintaining a profit takes a lot of hard work and knowledge. I spent my first few years making many mistakes and losing a lot of money by doing so. In this industry it is easy to get caught up in the “lights” and “fancy” of it all. Feeling you need to do “all the” fancy shows and be in the limelight. I discovered that the opposite is in fact the truth. You do not need to be in all of the things. It is okay to say no and it is okay to not take part in the popular things. 

What kept you going when you’ve hit a rough patch?  

I always stay true to myself. After many years in this industry you learn to ride through the storms. I actually read a lot about business, my faith, etc I love to listen to other amazing women in business as well as spiritual women who are in business. Surrounding yourself with like-minded and positive people honestly will get you through any rough patch. I often help mentor others and try to be a safe place for them to come. Being a woman owned business can sometimes be very lonely. So I love to also be there for others who may be going through a rough patch of their own.

Coffee or Tea?    100% both. A lovely cold iced coffee in the morning and an iced sweet tea is a must throughout my day. Caffeine is a designers friend.

If you could dress one celebrity who would it be? I have always wanted to design for Demi Lovato. I absolutely adore her and everything she stands for. Another amazing amazing soul i’d love to design for is Lauren Daigle. These two women are truly amazing and so inspirational. Designing for  “Little Kate” was also the most amazing experience because 1. I am a huge fan of the show but 2. Her character in the show is so important and is so empowering.

What’s your favorite fabric and why?  Oh gosh! I have so so many!  I obsess a good soft velvet. Velvet is one of those that every Fall/Winter I am so excited to pull out of our fabric warehouse and use. I also love the couture 3D beaded fabrics. I have a fabric addiction and honestly want them ALL.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?  Know that you do NOT know it all and honestly you never will. Never go broke trying to become “popular” on social media. Do not try to do too much too quick. Be yourself. Never change what you stand for, believe in, or what you love. Be sure you research a lot! Intern with someone who does what you are longing to do.  Strive to always stay educated in your field and connect with others when you can. Do not be hard on yourself. When you first start out it can be intimidating, lonely, and sometimes frustrating.  Reach out to others when you are having the hard days. Also, every Sunday set 10 goals for yourself. Five of those should be personal goals and the other five being business related. Every single day work towards your ten goals and I promise it will help you stay motivated, it will give you a burst of excitement as you achieve each one.  

Where do you see Bentley & Lace 10 years from now? Sitting in my office 10 years ago I never dreamed I would be where I am today. It is hard to say where I will be in another 10. I hope to still be sewing and making dresses. I hope to have hired even more staff. But, honestly in 10 years I hope to still be happy, passionate about whatever it is I am doing and I hope to be surrounded by people who love me.In business, you take it one day at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. Passion will drive you where you need to be.

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