Wonder South

Surplus & Sight

Dispatch 15: Tchoup Industries Shop Opening Block Party

Words and Photography JEFFREY ROEDEL

Since 2013, Patti Dunn and her creative team at Tchoup Industries of New Orleans have been crafting quality, sustainable and artfully-designed backpacks, handbags and more...

Tchoup seamstress Ursa Eyer (left) and New Orleans textile designer Abby Wetsman (right), with Tchoup founder and designer Patti Dunn. 

Tchoup seamstress Ursa Eyer (left) and New Orleans textile designer Abby Wetsman (right), with Tchoup founder and designer Patti Dunn. 

On Feb. 11, after years of sharing space with friends Disko Obscura and Defend New Orleans, Tchoup was able to relocate to the former sewing house one door over on St. Mary Street in the Lower Garden District. Wonder South was there for the grand opening to photograph the new space, and we spoke to Patti about the move and what's next for Tchoup Industries. Read our interview below the gallery (click through at right to scroll through images). 


WS: Hey Patti, first congratulations on a gorgeous space. I love the blend of retail and workshop you have here. How does it feel to be in a larger space and one dedicated specifically to Tchoup?


PD: We've been slowly growing over the past two years and were in desperate need of more space for organization for materials, prototypes and finished bags. This new space will let us flow more efficiently through the various stages of production—a breath of fresh air. Having our own space allows us to create a brand experience within our front retail space. We have an entirely new creative outlet through our window displays and shop décor. It’ll be exciting to try out changing themes throughout the year.


When you moved, you did not go very far! What are some things about the Lower Garden District neighborhood in particular that you love?


The Lower Garden District has been the neighborhood I call home since 2012. Living on Tchoupitoulas & Race Street first inspired me to start the Tchoup Industries collection. Like a lot of areas in New Orleans, things are changing fast here in the LGD. I appreciate the diverse and friendly community that is rounded out by so many independently owned businesses - new and old.


Who helped out with designs and renovations of the new space? How did you want it to look and feel?


Our space was pretty much move-in ready. We are thankful to our architect landlords, a mother and son duo—Anne and Rami Diaz—who have so thoughtfully preserved the unique character of these 1113 and 1115 St. Mary Street buildings. They discovered a brick foundation during renovations that is reportedly some of the oldest in the city. Instead of burying it under fresh poured concrete, they left two openings in the floor covered by a wooden grate and lit from beneath so it is still visible to all shop visitors. The wooden grate openings were cut in the shapes of cross sections of the Mississippi River.


That’s amazing, and something I definitely noticed walking through the shop, so it is great to hear the backstory. What are some other details of the new space that are special to you?


The previous tenant commissioned custom shelving and a partition wall from local woodworkers Good Wood NOLA. We were so lucky that their build-outs matched our look and functionality perfectly and were so happy to keep that handiwork intact. We also have a table made by Good Wood NOLA up front in our retail shop.


Our sewing table was custom built by local craftsman Bill Holiday back in 2015. It is perfectly sized to fit our bolts of fabric and beautifully made with old heart pine lumber. Other than those features, the furniture and artwork in the space are from my personal collections over the years and from trades with friends in the local art market circuit. But one of our most prized possessions is our owl large woodblock print (seen in the group portrait) by local artist Pippin Frisbie-Calder.


Thank you for this tour of the shop. Again, it looks and feels great, and I’m sure we will be stopping by again real soon!


Thank you!