Designer Patti Dunn Talks Cultural And Environmental Sustainability

The Tchoup Industries studio sits in the New Orleans French Quarter and is clean and minimalist yet filled with tools and overflowing rich textured fabric and leather. On the walls hang the art creations of the company’s artisans and there is a warm atmosphere in the space as the artisans work and discuss their lives. One artisan was excited about an upcoming trip to Colombia but dismayed by her passport photo, which she said made her look crazy. We all laughed and a glance at the photo confirmed that she was indeed correct. Laughter erupted again. It made me think how nice it would be to spend every day with this gregarious group of women.

Many of the women at Tchoup Industries share a love for travel. Patti Dunn, founder of Tchoup Industries, and her husband recently traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico and it reminded her of New Orleans. It is geographically cut off from the rest of the world and stews in its own juices.

“The food, crafts and textiles were all rich experiences. The artisans there were taking from their local environment and creating unique pieces. It inspired me to do the same in New Orleans.”

Patti ethically-sources local fabrics and components, which she says creates a positive impact that goes beyond the final product and helps to support the local economy. As a company and consumer Patty believes that her dollar is the way to change the fashion industry.

“Your dollar is your vote,” Patti said. “You can create a lot of change by voting for choices like all natural materials or choosing to give your neighbor a dollar instead of someone across the world.”

Investing in the local New Orleans economy and sourcing local product allows Patti to help actively preserve the local culture and unique creative expression of Southern Louisiana against the onslaught of global mainstream sameness. Patti’s designs don’t just focus on cultural sustainability but also on sustainability of the environment, which she says has caught momentum, particularly in the outdoor industry. The outdoor industry caters to people who enjoy spending time outside and are more focused on products that are eco-friendly.

“This market demands an eco-conscious product and it has forced a wave of change in manufacturing and material resources,” Patti said. “The more people and companies are asking for sustainable choices, the more these options will be available. We’ll also see a price decrease as demand goes up which is always a good sign for success.”

Patti’s desire to source locally has resulted in phenomenal partnerships and discoveries. Among them is her relationship with Daron Douglas, a local weaver and fiddler. Daron hand weaves colorful unique panels for Tchoup Industries’ bags and clutches.

“I had no idea the impact her woven panels would have on our utilitarian bags,” Patti said. “There is a true synergy of delicate and durable, and beauty and utility, that was beyond my foresight.”

Patti’s Life In Pictures

  1. This is me in a canoe during one of our photo shoots on Lake Martin near Lafayette. The alligator was sunning on a long with his mouth wide open, we spooked it and he swam away right next to our canoe!
  2. Shopping for produce in the Central Market in Mazatlan, Mexico.
  3. A shot of our studio and one of our industrial sewing machines with local art on the walls.
  4. Ursa’s hands sewing a Roulez Pack.
  5. This is a shot of the outside of our building (Bienville St.) – I love this old “New Orleans Steel Products” sign they still having hanging up.

One of Our Favorite Pieces

We love Tchoup Industries’ leather and woven fabric clutch. It features awesome handwoven paneling on one side and leather on the opposite side, giving you two ways to wear it. (Plus two loops so it is easy to hold.)


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