A seamstress since her teen-age years, Kump made her first purse in December
2000 when she resolved to lose the tattered, dumpy diaper bag she'd carried
for too long. Twenty designs and 10 prototypes later, Kump had invented a cotton-duck
bag with a flexible plastic frame. The design was inspired by old carrying cases
for 45-rpm records, she explains.
Kump, then a research scientist at the Medical College of Virginia and mother
to two young children, never intended to take up a career in fashion. But when
30 people in one week asked her where she'd gotten her handbag and then the
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts inquired about selling them Kump decided to go
Kump quit her job, turned manufacturing over to a factory and hired a marketing
specialist. Now 85 stores across the country carry Kump's line of handbags (called
Poesis, Greek for "creation"), which sell for $39 to $99. Recently, she designed
a line of woven sandals to match.
After Kump's rep brought the bag to various agents and stylists, the spotted
and striped "Groovy" bag landed in the hand of Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe
Kump's excited but a little overwhelmed, she says. If the business takes off
further, as she hopes, she'll need to create a real company, something she's
never done before. Kump says she never dreamed a simple idea would make it so
far. "I think if I had planned it," she says, "it never would've worked."
Melissa Scott Sinclair