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gator chic

April 17, 2015

Mary and Katie Tutwiler founded Cocodri, a small Louisiana-based company that turns alligator hide into elegant, must-have leather goods.

The founders: Mary Tutwiler, working as a journalist, was sent on assignment to cover the acquisition of the Lafayette alligator tannery by Hermes, French fashion house. At the end of the tour, she impulsively bought a small tanned alligator skin. Tutwiler worked with some friends to hand make a wallet for herself. It turned out so well she created a company to explore the possibilities of more goods. Katie Tutwiler, Mary’s daughter, came up with the company’s name.

The company: Cocodri was founded in Lafayette, Louisiana in 2009. The alligators come from Louisiana bayous and farms and are tanned in Lafayette, where the company’s handsome goods are hand made by local craftsmen.

The name: The word “cocodrie” is Cajun French for alligator.

The main goods: Alligator billfolds ($364), flasks ($364), belts ($338) and clutches ($1,664). Also custom work, especially for hunters with their own skins.

What’s popular: Flasks. The stainless steel, six-ounce screw-top hip flask is wrapped in alligator hide. Best-selling color: Cognac, of course.

Other favorites: For women, the clutches, made from the bony back of the alligator and dyed colors like turquoise and coral.

Fun or unusual request: A cotton candy pink bicycle seat for a guy who races. Also, alligator-accented flip-flops in bright colors.

Where to buy: For custom orders or belt sizes, call Mary at 337-380-3726.

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