This month we celebrate Tchoup Industries' fifth anniversary! As a small business that has been growing slowly and organically - with more than a few missteps that we dub "learning experiences" - we have made a point to thoroughly acknowledge every milestone.
Here are a few notable "firsts" to share from our 5-year journey building and selling quality bags.
November 2012 - First Backpack Prototypes
Our first design was the Roulez Pack shown here. Ursa Eyer helped build a handful of these prototype packs that were passed out to friends to field test. Their feedback helped shape the final product we still make and sell today.
February 2013 - First Logo Ideas
The paddler icon located in the center of our logo was hand drawn by moi. Here's a look at a few other options that didn't make the cut. I'd like to give a big thanks to designer Lauren Sanders who helped create our final design!
April 2013 - First Sales
We sold our first bags to the public at the 2013 LA Bucket Brigade Earth Day Festival. The sun shone down on us that day and left us amazed by the support of our community and hopeful about making and selling more bags.
September 2013 - First Collaboration
When KREWE Sunglasses and Tchoup Industries were both trailblazing our first year in business, we collaborated on a sunglasses case. This limited edition case went through a few evolutions before running its course.
February 2014 - First Nutria Bag
When we first started using this plentiful local fur, we wanted our customers to know it was for the right reasons. Every Nutria Le Tour bag sold donates back to the Gulf Restoration Network, an organization working to keep our Gulf Coast healthy. We have donated over $1,800.00 to Gulf Restoration Network since launching this item.
April 2014 - First Maker Friends
I am so thankful to have grown Tchoup Industries alongside other local creative entrepreneurs and makers. A defining moment for our community was the aptly named Frontier pop up group that banded together in 2014 to help capture Jazz Fest exposure. Members included Kathleen Currie of Smoke Perfume, Tippy Tippens of Goods That Matter, Justin Shiels of INVADE Magazine, Kathi Keppel of DVRA, and Tiffany Napper of the former Flying Fox.
January 2015 - First Mardi Gras Collection
Our first limited edition Mardi Gras collection featured gold gator leather from Mark Staton Co. of Lafayette, Louisiana. This annual collection has become one of our favorite product traditions, giving us a chance to try exciting new materials and collaborate with other local craftsmen.
January 2015 - First (Shared) Retail Shop
We jumped at the opportunity to lease our first retail space on Saint Mary Street with fellow businesses DVRA and Disko Obscura. This shared retail space opportunity made taking a huge leap feel of faith feel more like a baby step. We sold off our extraneous supplies and got very serious about organization.
May 2015 - First Recycled Sail Cloth Backpack
Recycled sailcloth made its debut on our small ditty bag toiletry cases during our first year of business. However, it took growing the used sail supply chain before we could explore this material on our bigger bags. We take a lot of pride in keeping this material out of Lakeside dumpsters.
May 2015 - First National Press Mention
We have never had the resources to hire a PR manager, so every national press mention results in complete fanfare around our studio. Our first national "earned press" mention was by Food and Travel and it still holds a special place in our heart.
June 2016 - First (& Only) Custom Hornback Gator Backpack
We take custom orders all the time, but it's a really special day when you have a hand in turning a hornback gator hide into a functional pack. I still think about this bag and envy it's owner!
November 2016 - First Knife Bags
Constantly being asked by local chefs to make a knife roll made collaborating with Coutelier knife shop a no-brainer. We were thrilled when they opened up shop on Oak Street and reached out about working together on this highly sought after item.
February 2017 - First (Independent) Retail + Studio Space
After two years in a shared shop space, we were ready to give it a go on our own. Moving into 1115 Saint Mary Street (where you can still find us) gave us the freedom to offer customers a full view into our working space. We still love to collaborate block events with our neighbors Defend New Orleans, Disko Obscura, and New Orleans Photo Alliance.
April 2017 - First Payroll!
We've been running as lean as possible since first selling our bags in 2013. I felt like our little operation had finally grown into a real company when I was able to offer our growing team of part time employees a W2 position with Tchoup Industries. What started as 1 designer + 1 sewer has now become a talented group of 8!
December 2017 - First Film Industry Commission
We were busy bees over the holidays, working on a secret project for The First TV series debuting later this year. My original dream for Tchoup Industries was not only to be selling under our own brand, but to be providing sewn manufacturing to our community. I am so thankful for all the extracurricular projects that help keep this small company afloat.