Though most of us think of cork as a way to keep wine fresh, Amanda Daily, owner and designer at Queork (607 Dumaine St., 918-899-9299; www.queork.com), is proving it can be a chic accessory.
Daily discovered the benefits of the antimicrobial, water- and oil-repellent fiber while strolling the streets of Portugal, where she stumbled upon an all-cork tourist shop. She'd wanted to replace her pup's stinky old dog collar with one that would repel liquid while retaining flexibility and comfort. Cork fit the bill perfectly, but the storeowner agreed to create Daily's dog collar only if she placed a minimum order of 500 pieces.
Upon returning to the states, Daily reached out to many pet retailers. Her research led her to take the plunge and order 500 dog collars. When she sold more than 100 accessories within hours at her first two Freret Street Markets, Daily knew she was onto something. She opened a store in 2012.
Deemed the "Queen of Cork" by friends, Daily felt that the neologism, Queork, said everything about who she was and what she was providing. Daily's creative process and creations start with her customers. "People tell me how they want things done, and I work with them," she says. "I put purses that I like in Photoshop and start adding and deleting elements of the bag."
According to Daily, cork is a "feeling is believing" product. Fall in love with the fiber, then fall in love with the bag, iPhone case, watchband or luggage tag. The list goes on. — KATE GRACE BAUER