News & Politics

Best of 2004: Michael Orr

Look out, Hermes -- Orr wants to take your spot.

The Hide Guy. Three years ago, Michael Orr quit his software job and moved to Brazil, where he saw a cowhide rug in a store window. He bought 50 and moved back to Washington. He sold them on eBay and out of an antiques shop until he opened Prua, his showroom and shop in Georgetown. Using materials he gets in Brazil, Orr designs woven-leather and hair-on hide rugs, cowhide handbags, colored leather cuff bracelets, and other fashion items. He has won over interior designers and customers from as far away as Japan. Orr, 35, is fluent in Portuguese, but his swagger is pure American: "Prua isn't a major brand–yet. But we want to be the next Hermès."

Washingtonian staff contributing to this section were Chuck Conconi, Sherri Dalphonse, Susan Davidson, Mary Clare Fleury, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Stephanie Jones, Ann Limpert, Drew Lindsay, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Jeremy Stahl.  Also contributing were writers Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Jenny Sullivan.