The 45-year-old, who lives in Glasgow's South Side, was made redundant from her high-flying fashion job just over two years ago and struggled to get back into work.
But Carla turned her life around earlier this year when she decided to launch a toy shop just minutes from her home.
It was a huge risk for the designer, originally from Ardrossan, in ayrshire, but she was desperate to open a store for the whole community.
Whitespace Kids, nestled away on a quiet street in Battlefield, finally opened its doors last month.
"I was walking home in March and I noticed a shop with a To Let sign," said Carla.
"I stood under the sign and then I went home and started putting together a business plan."
The shop is full of carefully selected toys – including a stunning red rocking horse – as well as dinky make-and-do sets, clothes and stocking fillers for every age group.
Prices of the items, carefully selected from suppliers across the world, range from £3.95 to £105.
Carla used to design sets for London Fashion Week and worked in the capital for years and even ventured into TV, sourcing props and making sets for primetime shows.
She said: "I studied building and printing in Glasgow but decided to move to London.
"It was really exciting, we designed sets for Marks & Spencer press shows, London Fashion Week, a lot of parties and events and the Ant and Dec Show."
On returning to Glasgow in 2001, she searched for a new job.
Carla – mum to Theo, seven, and three-year-old Roma –managed to secure a post working for a French fashion label in the city's branch of House of Fraser.
She said: "That was my first experience of retail. I was thrown in the deep end and it was like running my own business, but I loved it."
Eight years later Carla found herself being paid off.
"Being unemployed was harder than I thought it would be," said Carla.
"I thought I would get a job easily, it was really frustrating. By that time I had split up with my husband and was on my own with the two kids.
"I was trying to find something that would fit into my life and my children's because I was limited to the hours I could work."
She realised there was a gap in the market for a chic children's shop - and the bank manager seemed to agree after granting her a start-up loan.
Carla said: "There are more people in smaller flats with less money so I think people want to buy something that's going to get passed down through the family.
"It can sit in your living room, it's visually pleasing - it's something that isn't high street."
The boutique wouldn't look out of place in the West End, Glasgow's independent shop capital, but Carla says there was never any question of taking her idea away from the South Side.
She said: "I could not have this shop in the West End because the rent was humongous and I wouldn't be able to get off the starting block.
"In the South Side we have everything - the Victoria Hospital now does baby scans so you have all the new mums round here and we've got nurseries, schools, and we're getting more independent shops."
And Carla says she wants local residents of all ages to visit, even if they don't buy anything.
She said: "Even if the kids just come in and draw a picture, that's fine - I want this to be a community type of shop."
Carla sympathises with people who are out of work, especially parents on their own who are trying to juggle childcare.
She said: "People see you as unemployed, they don't see you for what you've done and your potential.
"I took a huge risk so I would advise people to do the same.
"Don't lose sight of what you can do and try and find an outlet for it rather than settling for something."
CARLA'S FASHION FILE
WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOP?
I love TK Maxx for their bargains.
I always go for the stuff nobody else seems to like.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I love looking at fashion but I tend to go for what suits me and things that are a wee bit different. I like good shoes, good accessories, coats and jackets.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF STYLE IN GLASGOW AND THE WEST OF SCOTLAND?
I thought it was really high street but when you start delving into little pockets of Glasgow it's quite inspiring and there are a lot of unique firms.