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High Strungby Kate Abney | Photo: Colby Blount | Jezebel magazine | February 26, 2013
It all started with a trip to the flea market with her aunt in 2010, when Lia Moraitakis pored over buckets and baskets of pretty beads. “I asked [the vendors] if they could make me a chunky necklace or bracelet, but they couldn’t,” she says. And so began her blind bound into the jewelry business, a venture that’s only blossomed year over year. To this day, flea markets and Etsy stores are still the primary sources for the semiprecious gems that define her Copella Designs.
The 26-year-old Greek beauty—who grew up in Brookhaven and attended Pace Academy, before studying interior design at The University of Georgia—has worked for luxe leather company Jerry Pair Leather since her graduation in 2009. But her day job has never kept her from burning the midnight oil—this night owl often stays up till 2am stringing beads or filing paperwork. Her mom has been known to swing by at midnight to help process Copella’s surplus of orders.
“There are very few people who have walked in my door without stepping on a bead, or being asked to cut tags or help me string something,” she says, laughing. “On Thanksgiving, my aunts, my cousins and I all sit around the table drinking wine, having cake and making jewelry in an assembly line. We listen to music, tell funny stories and string beads.”
“[The word] copella means ‘sophisticated, beautiful girl,’ and that’s how I want my customers to feel when they wear my pieces,” Moraitakis explains. True—her customers range from 20-something trendsetters to sophisticated socialites. They scoop up her baubles (think sparkling pink agate beads, turquoise geodes, cool blue lapis and more, priced $20–$75) at local trunk shows, Acquisitions Interiors in Atlanta and Charleston, S.C., and her newly launched e-store, copelladesigns.com.
This year, she hopes to incorporate other media into her work—leather, silk, fabrics and more. “I’d never make something I wouldn’t wear myself,” notes Moraitakis, whose own wardrobe consists of color-coded designer garb and eye-catching heels by designers like Brian Atwood and Louis Vuitton. “When I buy something new, my friends are constantly saying, ‘Oh, that looks just like you.’” @liamoraitakis