Travel Patterns

A former flight attendant’s line of high-end bags works for everyday—and the overhead compartment, too.

When she left U.S. Airways after more than 18 years, Amesbury resident Alyssa Hudson, thought she was ready for retirement. Then during a trip out west, she discovered cowhide—and a second career. The mother of two, who’d long had a love for design but no formal training, enlisted a Danvers-based manufacturer and launched Alyssa K. Designs, a collection of oversize handbags and luggage made of supple cowhide (the better to stow in airline bins) and retailing for $400 to $900. Last fall, upscale area boutiques began stocking the safari-themed styles, which come dyed in prints like leopard and giraffe. With her baggage line taking off, Hudson talked with us about her inspirations, and how she stays grounded:

Jungle Gems

Animal prints date back to ’50s fashion and have never gone out—Oleg Cassini did Jackie Kennedy’s leopard coat. They’re sassy and trendy, yet classic, and I think they work for every type of woman: businesswomen, college students, even grandmothers.

It Moooves Her
A lot of my inspiration comes from home décor. When I went to visit my mother in Santa Fe, I saw she had upholstered all her dining room chairs in cowhide. It was so fabulous that I had her take me to a tannery to buy a hide and thought, I could have a bag made.

Get Out The Tote
The modern-day woman needs a really big bag. In addition to my own designs, my favorites are by Jimmy Choo. And I like the L. L. Bean beach bag, too, because it’s very simple, and I gravitate toward clean lines.

Grand Designs
I grew up in a pretty home, and always wished I’d gone to decorating school. I’m hoping down the road that I’ll be able to do not only bags, but also some furniture. I want to make things that people will keep forever.

Available at Holiday, Hazel & Grace, Stash, and Windsor & Davis Homestyles.