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Once Upon A Lauren Makes One Of A Kind Wearable Keepsakes

Photo Courtesy Liz Hand

Photo Courtesy Liz Hand

Life deals each person a specific hand. It’s up to the individual to decide what to do with that hand.

Some choose a path and go headlong down it, never stopping to take forks in the road or even consider leaving the security of the known. Then other people are the risk takers, the big decision makers, the “crazy” dreamers. 

Lauren Bienvenue is the latter.

The owner and operator of Once Upon A Lauren, a custom-painted leather goods business out of Venice, CA, decided that even a great-paying job in entertainment publicity wasn’t enough for her. One day, she found herself incredibly unhappy in her work and decided to make a change.

“I got into PR, like, right out of right out of college. And that was like 10 years of my life. And it was just … I really hated it,” Bienvenue said to Garden & Health, laughing. “A lot of answering for other people. It was entertainment PR. And I just, like, I wanted my own thing. I wanted to be responsible for what I was doing.”

Photo Courtesy Lauren Bienvenue

“I didn’t want to answer for people’s bad behavior. You know, like, I just wanted to sort of control my own thing. And that’s where it started from,” she continued. “It wasn’t that I had this, like a burning desire to paint. It was just the desire to just sort of like go out on my own and do my own thing that was more creative.”

A chance sighting of a unique leather jacket in a boutique in Paris spurred Bienvenue to stretch out into her “own thing.”

“I saw this leather jacket that had roses down the sleeve. And I loved it, and I couldn’t afford it. And I felt like I could do something like that,” Bienvenue said. “So, I bought myself a jacket, and I just kind of made it, and my husband was like, ‘Where did that come from? Like, what? Where did that talent come from?’”

“And so we were living in New York at the time, and I would wear it around New York, and people would stop me and ask me where I got it or whatever,” she continued.

“And so I thought like, well, that’s kind of interesting if people are interested in this piece, so I made a few more. And I opened an Etsy shop. And I did a pop-up shop in Jersey City in 2017. And I sold out that day!”

Bienvenue painted her first jacket in February of 2017. In May 2017, she quit the job she hated to be a leather artist full-time.

Photo Courtesy Lauren Bienvenue 

The business of running a vintage goods art company can, at times, produce hurdles — “vintage leather jacket sizing is all over the place!” — Bienvenue has to overcome. But in her typical fashion, she does just that and always seems to find a way.

“What took me into fall of that first year of business was there was a trend of bridal jackets, a custom bridal jacket,” Bienvenue said. “So, people would send me something, and they would want their new last name painted on it. And then I started painting their bouquet. I would paint their bridal bouquet on the jacket with their new last name. So, it became like a keepsake item. And that trend took off.”

The COVID-19 pandemic provided another opportunity for Lauren to pivot again as more people began recycling or “upcycling” their closets. 

Photo Courtesy Lauren Bienvenue 

“When we were all home, people were cleaning out their closets,” she continued. “And I think a lot of women have these, like very expensive designer bags that they bought 10 years ago, 15 years ago, and they were like, I don’t use this anymore. What would make me what would make this interesting again?”

Enter Once Upon a Lauren to make old things new again.

Recently, her business has taken on more custom and work-for-hire jobs in new and fun ways.

She is currently working on tour jackets for the legendary rock band Depeche Mode, among other luminaries in the entertainment world.

While Once Upon A Lauren does cater to the rock star set, Lauren stresses that she wants to make her brand for everyone, not just those who can afford the higher-end custom bag or jacket.

Photo Courtesy Lauren Bienvenue 

“I also do ornaments when the holidays come around! Bookmarks and luggage tags and all that kind of stuff” are also available on her website. Interested shoppers can also find her on TikTok and Instagram, where the latest Once Upon A Lauren offerings are on full display.

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