Cork ‘n Leather – Out to Lunch – It’s New Orleans
“Do something you re passionate about” is tossed about so often as the key to starting up an entrepreneurial business that it s become all but a cliche. This episode of Out to Lunch will restore your faith in the place of passion in business, and if you ve ever thought about starting up your own business, in 30 minutes you ll be inspired to run out and do it Amanda Dailey was in real estate in Texas when her New Orleans friend Julie Araujo invited her to go check out Julie s mom s house in Portugal and advise her mom on selling it. On the trip Amanda fell in love with cork. So much so that Julie starting referring to her as “Queen of Cork” from which the nominal contraction and business “Queork” was born. Starting with cork dog collars, Amanda, Julie and Queork branched out to include handbags, shoes, cell phone cases and much more. Above is a roll of cork fabric and a cork man s wallet on our lunch table in the wine room at Commander s Palace. Based in New Orleans French Quarter, Queork is now one of the only originating designers and manufacturers of cork fashion accessories in the world. Alexander Bourne was in the process of heading toward a respectable middle class existence as a dentist when he dropped out of New Orleans Xavier University to open a shoe shine business. Alexander could not have flown in the face of more strands of conventional wisdom if he d tried. A young, African American man turning his back on an education and respected profession to shine shoes, itself an all but cliche stereotype of subservience. But Alexander wouldn t be deterred by anything as common as sense. He had a vision, a passion, and, equally importantly, sports one of the keenest marketing minds in New Orleans. Alexander s crazy idea has become Patina Shoe Parlor, a hip, suave, community oriented full service shoe company that has literally been profitable since its first week in business. Alexander uses social media with such expertise that traditional media seek him out. He s in the news, on the social pages of the local newspapers, and on Out to Lunch Patina Shoe Parlor and Queork are two shining examples of the power of passion and the place of positioning in today s New Orleans business environment.