Ever wondered about how Tchoup Industries came to be? Here’s 5 questions with Patti Dunn, our trailblazing Founder/Designer. Patti takes pride in using locally-sourced, all-American materials for building Tchoup bags, inspired by the culture and natural world of Louisiana.
What inspired you to launch Tchoup Industries?
I worked as a sewn goods designer for the outdoor industry for about 10 years before starting Tchoup Industries. Through this experience I received insight into how product design is directly applied to needs in the market while working for a large outdoor recreation corporation – my first job after college.
During this time most companies (including my employer) were moving manufacturing from the US to overseas in Asia. I thought a lot about the pride that comes from making a product in your home state or region. I spent the next 10 years getting as much experience as possible and working up the courage (and funds) to do just that.
Do you think American consumers are starting to to care more about where materials are sourced from?
Absolutely. There are many reasons why people prefer to purchase locally made products – economic, health, environmental, community. Many big recent events in the media (the recession, the oil spill, contaminated food, etc.) have motivated people to make educated decisions about where they spend their money. We’re seeing changes in American consumerism that support this shift.
What do you love most about living in Louisiana?
Anyone who’s ever visited or lived in New Orleans will tell you that the magic here is tangible. The people are unique, interesting and open. All of your senses are satiated in a way no other city can provide by colorful buildings, aromatic blooms, music being made –everywhere!– delicious food, dancing anywhere, anytime, etc. etc.
I am also very inspired by the strong connection between Louisiana’s culture and the natural world. Hunting, trapping and fishing have been a part of the culture since people first started inhabiting the area, and it’s still very important to the local economy. Our natural surroundings demand respect from the people living here.
What’s it like being a small business owner in New Orleans?
There’s a special give and take that can happen between a small business and it’s end user. We are small enough that we can listen to the local needs of our community and offer products that fulfill a need. One example being our Fanny Packs – everyone loves them because being “hands free” is so uniquely important here in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and all of the other spring festivals.
New Orleans has been extremely supportive of what we create. I enjoy talking directly to our customers at markets and in our shop. Their feedback helps us to provide relevant items that we know will be enjoyed to the fullest. In return, we love to be able to give people a view into our production process – which all happens in the back of our store.