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New Orleans bag designers Patti Dunn of Tchoup Industries and Kathi Keppel of DVRA 

click to enlarge Bag designers Kathi Keppel (left) and Patti Dunn opened their shared storefront last month. - PHOTO BY MISSY WILKINSON
  • Photo by Missy Wilkinson
  • Bag designers Kathi Keppel (left) and Patti Dunn opened their shared storefront last month.

Local fashionistas are acquainted with Tchoup Industries (www.tchoupindustries.com), a line of rugged bags made from all-natural local or recycled materials. Owner and designer Patti Dunn launched the brand online two years ago, with an eye toward opening a brick-and-mortar store. She expected to accomplish this in three to five years. But by teaming up with fellow handbag designer Kathi Keppel of DVRA (www.facebook.com/dvraneworleans), the two opened a shared storefront at 1113B St. Mary St. years ahead of either's schedule.

  "Sharing the space takes a lot of pressure off, which I think is necessary if you want to take creative risks," Keppel says.

  The 690-square-foot storefront houses a production facility, where Tchoup Industries bags are produced and DVRA bags are designed and cut out. Prior to moving to New Orleans, Dunn worked as a designer for a Colorado brand of outdoor bags. Keppel, a native of Germany, came to New Orleans as a Tulane University exchange student. The two find their partnership symbiotic.

  "It's kind of a dream to have everything under one roof," says Keppel, whose husband, Joey Buttons, runs music label Disko Obscura (www..diskoobscura.com) and sells records in the space. "It's nice to know someone in the same industry and to bounce off ideas."

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