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December 2014 People: Second Act/Louise Comora


Louise Comora has always loved to sew. From a young age, she was creating quilts, costumes, tote bags and other items. But it was simply a part-time hobby, and her full-time job paid the rent. She worked in physician and general medical offices since the early 1970s, and started her own insurance billing company 28 years ago in San Francisco. “I had a staff of nine and lots of clients—but I was working too hard,” she says. She downsized the company and relocated to Cotati eight years ago. Her husband, Kevin, built her an office/studio at their new home. “My creative side kept coming out in that space,” she says. “I was making quilts when someone suggested working with leather, so I took a course and knew I could really run with it.”
 
It wasn’t long before things really fell into place. “Finding someone who could help me with my passion was important to me, but it was difficult in that people didn’t want to share their secrets. Eventually, I found a former Hermès leather artisan to help me learn the craft.” Her one-on-one training lasted two years and, although she maintains her billing business, her true love is creating Old World, European-style, hand-stitched bags, belts and bracelets. Her specialty is rolled handles.
 
She recently trademarked the company as Bohlux (which stands for Bohemian luxury; she formerly called it “Itzalulu”). Her designs are simple, clean and elegant. She doesn’t believe in chunky hardware because it weighs the items down, and chooses high-quality, easy-to-clean and functional leather from France, New York, Texas, Napa’s Hide House and New Orleans (for alligator). She regularly travels to New York to see what’s new and what other people are doing and to keep inspiration alive.
 
“A bag should look new for a long time,” she says of her craft. “The majority of bags today have poured, plastic edges that peel or crack with age. That doesn’t happen with old-style stitching.” All of Comora’s instruments and tools are the same tools used by Hermès. “This is a lost art. It’s not the same technique Western stitchers use. Not a lot of people can do this. I feel really blessed and fortunate,” she adds.
 
Comora has a line of standard designs and also creates custom items where she works with clients to discuss their ideas. Then she creates sketches, a pattern and a prototype prior to assembling the final product. The process takes two to three months, but the result is a one-of-a-kind, treasured bag that will last for many years to come—and that’s hand made in Sonoma County. You can find Bohlux online at www.itzalulubag.com (the current website, which will be forwarded to www.bohlux.com once the new website is finished), on Sonoma County Art Trails or by calling (415) 686-1145.

 

 

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