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Richmonder's Handbags Star on Small Screen

Kump's realistic about what the celebrity placement means: "People are not

going to see it on the TV and go, 'I've got to have that with the pink and black.'"

But she figures the publicity can't hurt.

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

for it.

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

on "Friends."

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

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