Queork LLC is an importer, manufacturer, and wholesaler of a wide range of cork products including handbags, cell phone and iPhone accessories, pet products, watch straps, and upholstery. Aside from promoting cork as a durable, long-lasting, and environment-friendly material, Queork aims to provide consumers with a high-quality and unique line through its wholesale channel. The company caters to retailers, wholesalers, and customers looking for more affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to leather goods.
Cork is a sustainable and eco-friendly material harvested from the bark of living oak trees, which can continue to produce cork for an average of 150 years. Cork is primarily used for roofing, flooring, and, as many of us may be well aware, cork boards and glass bottle stoppers. Amidst today’s increased global awareness on the importance of promoting “green” and sustainable products, cork is certainly holding its own in the fashion and apparel industry on top of its more common uses.
According to co-owner and managing member Amanda Dailey, one of the primary goals of Queork is to educate consumers on the benefits of cork fabric and to hopefully overcome misconceptions about its quality.
“They have no idea that cork is so amazing. It is water proof, fade-proof, mildew resistant, lightweight, and as durable as leather. You can literally take a $150 handbag, zip it up, and throw it in the swimming pool and it will float! It is a lifetime material and is also sustainable and a certified ‘green’ material,” she says. “Not even the tree the cork oak bark is taken from is harmed. It is the only tree in the world that thrives and does not die when you take its bark once every ten years or so.”
Queork has only been a full-fledged business for a little over a year but it has already carved a niche in the market. Cork products have proven to be particularly popular among wine lovers. “They obviously have a connection with cork accessories due to the popularity of cork stoppers in wine and champagne. This is also the crowd that has an appreciation for fine things made of rare yet durable material,” says Amanda. “We found that the crowds that love wine such as wine club members and wineries also crave great gifts for wine enthusiasts as well as products that can be branded and or personalized. Cork fabric is that material.”
And speaking of personal, Queork products can be personalized according to style and design. By placing a custom order, anyone can request for anything at all and the company will gladly realize that order using cork material. “Our overall goal is to show how diverse cork fabric can be,” says Amanda. She adds that it is also a way to foster a healthy market for cork. “If we (companies) are all selling the exact same thing there will be competition and the product will be devalued. We encourage they alter designs and or colors just enough to be unique and then they can price the product how they see fit,” she adds.
The idea for customized cork products came to Amanda when, returning to New Orleans from Lisbon where her would-be partner resides, she found out that cork products are hard to find in the US. She was specifically looking for a cork pet collar for her dog and ended up having to order 500 units from an online service.
“A few nights of thought led me to take the leap and purchase all 500. Worst case I could peddle them to local pet stores and on the street in New Orleans where I live. Needless to say they were a huge hit and I started getting more and more requests for custom items. Last summer I decided to sell my real estate brokerage and take on cork full time,” she says.
Queork now exports to Cyprus and the UK with plans to launch product lines in Japan, Brazil, Portugal, and more regions. At the end of this month, Queork is set to reveal a new handbag line that according to Amanda easily rivals big name brands that sell similar products for $500 to $2,000 each. The new handbags will feature new fabric patterns and colors without taking away the natural aesthetic qualities of cork.
Queork LLC currently has three sewing facilities to accommodate small orders (1-10 items) to very high quantities (up to 10,000 units). Discounts are offered on large orders but retailers will be delighted to know that there is no required minimum order.
“We give them (small retailers) the opportunity to start with 1-5 of each and see how well they do. They may not have great margins but they also don’t have the overhead and a stock room full of product that may not be as popular as the retailer thought. As the product line matures, the retailer may start mass purchasing a few things or keep a minimum ongoing order which allows us to price things much better,” Amanda explains.
Queork LLC is based in New Orleans. The company will open a retail store at the French Quarters by summer of 2013 for increased visibility to tourists. Queork participates in wine and food events, fairs, and markets in the area. Interested buyers can just as easily place orders online via http://Queork.com. Bestselling products include iPhone cases, pet collars, and fabrics. Cork leather handbags are particularly hot during events or when sold at retail chains. The company is looking to offer more cork products including home improvements items like cork wallpaper, wall tiles, and cork furnishings in the near future.
Co-owner & managing member