When you think of cork, what comes to mind? That cork board that held your important notices in your college dorm room or the one that displays memos in the company break room? What if there was more to cork than meets the eye? Turns out there is! Much more, if you ask Diane Thompson, founder of Cortizza, a company that designs, manufactures and sells handbags and accessories made from – you guessed it – cork. While the rest of the world saw cork as simply that tan material that was great for sticking push pins into, Diane saw beyond that to its versatility, durability, and most importantly, its beauty. Even better, cork is an eco-friendly material that comes from the sustainable cork oak, a tree that helps support endangered plants and animals.
Diane Thompson founded Cortizza in 2011 after visiting a California winery, a great place to encounter cork. However, the cork that interested Diane wasn’t in the wine bottles, but the cork used to make some beautiful handbags for sale. Says Diane, “We were first attracted to cork fabric because of its unique appearance and velvety soft texture. When we learned of the sustainable nature of cork, we knew we had discovered an eco-friendly material that did not sacrifice style and luxury.” Since opening, Cortizza has expanded their product offering to include fashionable items such as purses, wallets, and bags; wine accessories such as wine boxes and bags, and even business gifts and products like laptop bags and executive portfolios. For a personal touch, almost any Cortizza product can be laser engraved with names, monograms, and logos.
Diane says of the cork-making process, “Cork fabric is made, primarily in Portugal and Spain, through an intricate process. The number of different patterns and colors that can be made is really amazing!” Since most cork comes from forests in the Mediterranean, the name chosen for the company, Cortizza, reflects this heritage, since it is a variation on the Portugese word for cork, “Cortica.” The cork oak forests that provide the cork for Cortizza’s products are highly beneficial and sustainable, and are not harmed when cork is harvested since the trees don’t need to be cut down. This way, these trees can continue to provide for about 25,000 species, many of which are endangered. Since trees live several hundred years, this allows for continued support of animals, plants and birds.
Cortizza’s products are made from paper or leather (fabric) that all comes from cork. Cork leather provides a texture similar to animal-based leather, but in many ways it is superior. First of all, it’s vegan! As a renewable resource, it’s great for the environment. And then, there’s the way it looks and feels. Diane explains the appeal, “When people first encounter our products, their initial reaction is usually surprise at how soft and supple the cork fabric is. When they learn that it is also durable, lightweight and water resistant, they are hooked!”
When you see the wide variety of beautiful Cortizza cork products, you’ll be hooked, too. Bags with unique patterns and a soft, suede-like feel. Braided or beaded cork necklaces and bracelets with accents of polished stone, silver, or crystal. An insulated tote for wine that can be engraved with names or logos. Even an eco-chic iPhone or iPad case. All products made from cork are easy to care for and made for longevity. You can clean any cork product with water and soap, and no need to worry if it gets wet because water beads up and rolls right off. Cork is naturally hypoallergenic, and also repels dust, mold, mildew, and dirt. Plus, your Cortizza cork product is made to be durable, resist fading, and, of course . . . get people talking!
If you’re looking for the perfect executive gift that also makes a statement, or if you’re intrigued by beautiful products made from interesting materials, Cortizza’s cork products are for you. Cork is no longer banished to the break room bulletin board anymore; now you can enjoy the beauty and eco-friendliness of this material in fun and practical ways thanks to Cortizza.