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The Pursuit of Cork, Coffee and Magic

Posted by Paula Parisotto on

I was coming down from the high of having a fabulous idea, and falling right into hustle mode.

The cork bag that friends, family and total strangers couldn’t get enough of was so new to stylish shoppers in the States, leaving me puzzled as to how to find this “cork” material. Not to mention how to sew it into a bold accessory, how it could hold so much weight yet rest so lightly on my shoulder...I had so, so many questions. So, I turned to everyone’s favorite sage. Google, of course!

I quickly discovered that Europe was way ahead of us, and cork accessories were super popular in Portugal and Spain. Turns out, Portugal is full of magical cork forests, where cork can be ethically harvested, to later be sliced thin and backed by fabric.

But remember, this was two years ago. A long time in the retail industry! Finding cork online was no easy feat, and after weeks and weeks of research, I found a local, California-based manufacturer that had it by the yard for $89. Whoa. In the fabric world, that ain’t cheap! Nonetheless, I was in this thing. I bought it, sketched a quick design, pulled out my classic ‘80s Singer and sewed my first bag. Then promptly sold it via a Facebook post. Cha-ching!

Fast forward six months, and I’m hopping around Vegas. (For a good reason, promise!) Magic, the leading fashion marketplace was in town and I promptly began seeking out every booth from Portugal. All four of them, out of hundreds. Good things never come easy, right?

At one of these booths, I met an angel by the name of Sara. Sara put me in touch with a friend that manufactured cork fabric in Portugal, and I knew I had finally turned a corner. Bingo! Time for the big leagues, Paula, let’s do this!

Sara’s source sold me their minimum order quantity: a whopping one yard.
Sound familiar? This time, it set me back over $150 with international shipping. Ouch. Not quite the big win I’d been imagining, but it was a start. It was a direct lead to a cork manufacturer in the country where it was sourced, harvested and distributed.

So, I brewed a fresh pot and got back to work.

p.s. Miss part one? Head over here to read the beginning of the story.

 


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