Shayla Copas' Organic Path to Product Design

From interior designer to author to product designer, Shayla Copas has overcome obstacles to make her vision a reality.

Diane Falvey
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Shayla Copas
Shayla Copas, Interior Designer and Founder of Shayla Copas Interiors, brings her love of color into her luxury design as well as her new product collection with Chelsea House.

Shayla Copas, founder and lead designer at Shayla Copas Interiors, in Little Rock, AR, is launching her second product collection with Chelsea House, as well as an outdoor upholstery fabric line with Polywood, this fall season. 

For this interior designer and author — Copas has authored two books on entertaining and design — product development made sense as a next step. Copas launched her first collection with Chelsea House last year. That partnership helped fill out her vision with products designed for entertaining. 

Shayla Copas
Shayla Copas' Chelsea House collection.

While product design was on Copas’ bucket list, somehow, she says, her partnerships have fallen into place organically. “When the book came out, I wanted to bring some products to life that would be the right fit,” she says. As luck would have it, as she began assessing partners, she was asked to design one of the “rooms” in the Alden Parkes showroom for High Point Market. “I had borrowed some products from Chelsea House for that installation,” Copas says. “When [Chelsea House] saw how I utilized their products, they asked me to be a part of their group.”

Copas’ products are designed with “an entertaining twist,” and incorporate everything from accent furniture and lamps to decor and serving trays. She also incorporates “bright and cheerful colors,” a nod to fashion — Chanel provides some of that inspiration — and nature. There are bees, honeycomb patterns and honeycomb links, for example, in a number of her designs. Copas’ new collection this fall will include 50 new SKUs.

Life by Design

Copas took an unusual path to interior design, although her focus could be considered home decor from the start. At 20, Copas began selling silk plants in a local shopping center parking lot. At that time, silk plants were in demand, and her entrepreneurship and tenacity paid the bills. It also allowed her to make connections that furthered her design career. In her apartment building, the owner asked if she could provide silk plants for housewarming gifts and she also cut her design chops on the model apartments. 

Shayla Copas
Shayla Copas

By the time Copas met her husband and moved to Arkansas, she knew she wanted to design for a luxury niche. She connected with the right people, taught herself luxury design and followed that path to a successful business. Ninety-nine percent of her interiors business is now focused on luxury residential and hospitality, she says. What began as a challenge also became an opportunity to help others. Copas, who shares that her childhood was difficult, uses her success now to give back. To date, she has raised more than $4 million for her community. “Humanity is a big deal,” she says. 

Copas is humble about her success, noting that much has been organic, but it can also be attributed to her drive and determination. “I’m very focused, but things organically happened for me,” she acknowledges. “When you write down what you want and put that out there, the path starts changing.”

For example, her first book came about because one of her design projects was on the cover of another holiday design book. That editor asked to write her own book. “I always wanted to write a book,” she adds. In that first book, she also gave other designers a chance to be recognized through design, recipes, entertaining tips and stories. Copas’ second book, which branches beyond the winter holidays, features similar elements. 

From interior designer to author to product designer, Copas has overcome obstacles to make her vision a reality. And if you think she is content with what she already has on her plate, think again. Copas has more irons in the fire, based on her marketing expertise. For now though, keep an eye on her partnerships with Chelsea House and Polywood to see what successful designer/product development collaborations can look like.

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