If you think Lena Erziak sounds like the name of a designer, you’d be twice right. That’s because it represents not one designer, but two.
When sisters Leona and Hanna Erziak launched their luxury handbag collection in 2009, they wanted it to represent collaboration. The bags have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Katy Perry and Harper’s Bazaar executive fashion and beauty editor Avril Graham.
But in 2016, after a two-year hiatus from the fashion industry, the duo’s vision evolved into a larger message about female empowerment. And with that, the pair relaunched Lena Erziak as a luxury footwear collection.
“A woman can be a mother, a lover, an artist, an executive, a warrior and a siren, without compromise,” the sisters have said. “We survive in a life full of paradoxes.”
Their shoes are bold, playful and edgy, with cultural underpinnings and jazzy embellishments, like bows, feathers and a woman’s silhouette. And they convey the unquestionable confidence of the women who wear them.
But the heart and soul of the shoes is love.
“Love is what inspires both me and Leona,” Hanna says. “We want all women to love themselves and acknowledge that they are worth more than they could ever know.”
With a strong feminist message for challenging times, they nonetheless didn’t anticipate working in fashion. In college, Hanna studied international relations, while Leona studied communications and international relations, and both went on to become successful real estate developers.
But they couldn’t shake their creative spirits, which were seeking something more.
“Being born in a family of two beautiful, creative minds — our mother was a seamstress and our father was a sculptor — we’ve dreamed of starting our own maison de couture,” Hanna says. “That’s what inspired the founding of Lena Erziak.”
Even though their parents were artistic, they initially discouraged their girls — the youngest of eight children — from entering a creative field, because of the financial insecurity. The sisters worked in real estate up until the recession of 2008, when they decided to try their hands at fashion.
“When you have a dream in your head that becomes real, that’s the most euphoric and satisfying moment that you can experience,” Leona says. “The same process holds true in fashion.”
“Let’s say that we wished strongly, and the universe gave us the opportunity to start our own line,” Hanna says.
Drawing inspiration from their multicultural backgrounds, they turned to their surrounding world and past experiences for ideas. Born and raised in Belgium with Moroccan roots, Hanna is based in Paris and Leona, who lived briefly in Kenya, resides in New York City, while both still have homes in Marrakech, Morocco.
“We get inspired all the time,” Hanna says. “From the strangers who cross our paths to visiting a museum and observing a piece of art or learning about history. Most everything we do inspires our creativity.”
Although they work together, Hanna and Leona incorporate their individual personalities into some of their designs as well. According to Hanna, their signature “Lola” heel, featuring a large bow on the ankle, is named after Leona for her larger-than-life presence, while “Hanna’s Pump” reflects Hanna’s “fun and quirky” personality.
“Fashion is about having fun and should make you smile,” Hanna says.
The sisters are working on offering customized options, in which select styles can be made available in shorter heels with additional fabric choices. They are also planning on reintroducing their handbag collection in the near future.
“The bags will follow shortly, when we are ready,” Hanna says.
For more, visit lenaerziak.com.