Step into Eleganza and take a deep breath through your nose. Exhale – ahhh. The sweet smell of leather. I don’t know about you, but leather is a treat for the senses for me. In fact, store associate Debra Nardi says, “Leather is sexy!” It smells good and feels so soft, whether its wrapped around you as a jacket or on your shoulder as a purse.
Eleganza’s products are all hand picked from Italy by owner Berenise Ahumada. She is of Italian and Spanish decent and lived in Mexico, Spain and seven years in Italy and has arrived at her ‘final destination’ in her Sarasota store on Main Street. A beautiful woman with a welcoming, pampering persona, Berenise is certain to tend to her customers’ fine leather dreams. Even custom pieces can be created from leather swatches she said.
Customers used to have to travel to Tamps for these unique Italian finds, and it was her Sarasota customers that convinced her to open a store in Sarasota about a year ago. She decided Main Street had the right vibe.
The range of products, colors, textures and origin of these leather products is impressive. All are cured using the finest vegetable dyes and some are hand painted. Coats in bright teal, cobalt blue, orange, eggplant, brown, black, gray and in between line the back walls of the store. Purses, tote bags, Messenger bags, brief cases and men’s shoes also run the gamut of colors and textures as they line the front walls.
Whether it comes from a calf, ostrich, alligator, or snake, it’s all about how the leather is cured Berenise said. “They’re treated with vegetable extract and that makes all the difference,” Berenise said.
Of course, as with wine, fine leather gets better with age and almost develops a personality of its owner’s own skin.
Berenise buys all of her Italian leather products from artisans that have been creating leather art for generations, another thing that sets Eleganza’s leather products apart. “It’s not easy to travel all over Italy and buy this merchandise,” Berenise said, “but it’s necessary.” A purse takes about a month to make by the way.
They don’t work in volume and every piece is unique, in the stores in Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota. “We never want our customers to get bored,” Berenise said.
Shop associate Debra is also a docent at the Dali Museum. As she demonstrates the wrapping of one of the store’s silk scarves, she says, “This is like working in a museum. It’s leather art…”
Silk scarves are one of the store’s latest additions, and in the near future look for women’s shoes and other accessories. Find totes, purses of all sizes, wallets, men’s shoes, brief cases, duffle bags, coats and more. Buy a jacket and watch out – people may want to put their hands all over you (according to Debra). And don’t forget to breathe…
Eleganza is located at 1477 Main St. in Sarasota. Visit the website at www.eleganzaleatheronline.com or call (941) 955-8855.
Photos by Patti Pearson