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How One Little “A-Ha” Moment Led To An Entire Line Of Cork Handbags (Yes, Cork!)

Posted by Paula Parisotto on

You know those moments when you get your best ideas? It’s always when you’re least inclined to write it down – in the shower, washing the dishes, driving on the highway. For me, it’s usually when I lie down to fall asleep after a long day. But my best idea, the one that led to the very site you’re reading this on, was (quite literally) a gift.


California cork purse designer Paula Parisotto, proudly stands underneath a large oak tree waring a black dress, sunglasses and cork crossbody bag.

Once upon a time, I was gifted a cork purse from Portugal. I was delighted, to say the least. I’d seen plenty of wine and champagne corks in my lifetime, but never anything else made from cork until that moment. As a personal stylist, I’m always on the lookout for unique accessories, so I was intrigued. Okay, and it helped that it was beautiful and stylish. Naturally, I started wearing it.

You could say I have a thing for purses. I switch them out pretty frequently, always wanting to highlight a new one. But whenever I wore this cork purse people were mesmerized. No exaggeration! Strangers and friends would pepper me with questions:

“What is your purse made of? Wait, cork?”
“Can I touch it?” and then, “Wow, it’s so soft!”
“Cork...as in, wine? That kind of cork?”
“I’ve never seen a cork purse before!”

Women and men would stop me on the street, ask questions and make comments about it. As more and more people asked about my cork purse, the “a-ha” moment hit. There may or may not have been an actual light bulb floating over my head – it was that strong.

I had to make a line of cork handbags.

The go-getter in me immediately got to work, hunting down sheets of cork.

And the rest is history! Or as I like to think of it, history in the making. You can read about that right over here. 
When I left my executive career to start my own business as a stylist, I knew – I’m talking super-strong-gut-feeling knew – three things:

 1. Despite being in the second prime of my life (read: “middle-aged”), making a drastic industry swap, and facing an economic downslide, I’d make it;
 2. I would design and launch a fashion line; and
 3. I’d write a book. (This “a-ha!” moment was one of those 10pm, sliding into bed ones. and the universe shouted at me, “get your a-double-s back up, grab a notepad and write this shit down. So I did. More on that later.)

And here we are, well past the beginning but oh-so-far from the happily ever after. Right in the middle of the journey, which is shaping up to be just as thrilling as that first jolt of inspiration. Want to come along for the ride?

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