June 22, 2014



Tucked away in a downtown art gallery is a uniquely Fresno story: An artist and a pediatric ICU nurse run Iron + Copper + Bronze, a blossoming business selling handmade high-end leather bags with American-made parts.

Bibi Bielat and Cathy Caracciolo — business partners and life partners — never intended to run such a company but are finding that their bags are increasingly grabbing the attention of consumers, shop owners, even Hollywood.

Every piece of the leather and waxed canvas bags with copper rivets are done by hand — from the cutting of the leather to the hammering of the copper rivets. They range from a small leather clutch for $55 to cross-body bags and totes ranging from $165 to $250.

Some have names such as "The Fulton" and "The Amador," paying tribute to downtown Fresno streets. The women live in Fulton Village, one of the new apartment developments downtown, after moving here from Nashville 21/2 years ago.