Out To Lunch: Cork 'N Leather

Apr 18, 2014

Julie Araujo, Amanda Dailey, Peter Ricchiuti and Alexander Bourne.
Credit Grant Morris / 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 cliché. 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, after this 30 minutes you'll be inspired to run out and do it!

Amanda Dailey was on a trip to Portugal when she fell unexpectedly in love with cork. So much so that her friend Julie Araujo started referring to her as the "Queen of Cork"... from which the nominal contraction, and business, "Queork" was born.

Starting with cork dog collars, Queork has branched out to include handbags, shoes, cell phone cases and much more. Based in the 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-cliché stereotype of subservience. But Alexander wouldn't be deterred by anything as common as sense.

Alexander's crazy idea has become Patina Shoe Parlor, 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!