There is something fishy about the goods Lisa and Louis Strauss are bringing to this year’s Flowertown Festival.
“A lot of times when people first see our products they know there is something different about them but they can’t figure out what it is,” Lisa said. “What makes us unique is we use renewable and sustainable fish leather as opposed to leather made from a cow, snake or alligator. All our leather is derived from the seafood industry.
“We like thinking green and fish skin is a natural resource.”
Since founding Col de Mar Sea Leather Accessories eight years ago, the couple has combined their talents to create and market a unique and stylish collection of products made from tilapia leather. Their collection includes coin purses, business and credit card cases, eyewear cases and bracelets.
Tilapia fish is one of the fastest growing aquaculture crops in the United States. When companies process the fish for consumption, they have no use for the skin. However, the skin can be turned into leather, just like cow skin.
“We were looking to get out of the corporate world and we came across the idea,” Louis said. “There were companies using the fish skin for things and we thought, why not bring it to the fashion industry?”
Their crafts come in a variety of styles and colors. Fish leather, or sea leather, has a unique texture and geometric pattern that helps create an exotic look. Like others in the accessories business, the couple closely follows the fashion industry to ensure their products remain chic.
“Our designs are both fun and functional,” Lisa said. “We like to add things like a pull tab on our credit card cases that allow you to easily lift your card out when you need it.”
One of their more distinctive products is a purse that incorporates Rosary Beads made from olive wood imported from Jerusalem.
Anyone wanting to learn more about sea leather or the couples’ journey into the fashion world can simply stop by their booth during the festival.
“We are always eager to tell people about the process and about our passions,” Louis said.