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4/30/2014 2:00:00 PM
Damariscotta Business Makes Bags for Every Personality

By J.W. Oliver

A new business makes and sells one-of-a-kind leather purses and tote bags in downtown Damariscotta.

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Tori Anna Dyke, of Wiscasset, owns Tori Anna Designs. She designs and sews all Tori Anna Designs products in a studio at the store.

The store occupies the 49 Main St. space home to Narragansett Leathers for many years and briefly home to Se Vende Imports.

Dyke takes pride in the fact that she makes every bag by hand in the Damariscotta studio. She carefully selects high-quality fabrics and leather and uses local sources as much as possible. Vendors include Narragansett Leathers, of Newcastle, and On Board Fabrics, of Edgecomb.

The purses at Tori Anna Designs start at $50; tote bags start at $70.

"Hardly any two are identical, because the purse needs to fit your personality," Dyke said.

Dyke guarantees all products against defect. She runs the bags through a series of tests "to ensure stability, longevity and practicality," she said.

She encourages the men who visit the shop in search of a gift to buy a gift certificate. "Everyone should choose their own bag because they need to love it," she said.

The unique collection of bags includes a new Pay it Forward line, which pays tribute to trailblazing Maine women. Dyke will make a donation from every sale of a Pay it Forward bag to an organization affiliated with the respective woman.

Tori Anna Designs also designs and sews wool capes for women.

Dyke, originally of Gray, has been a kindergarten teacher, a public television producer and a secretary. "I've always loved crafting," she said, and she started making jewelry years ago.

Tori Anna Dyke cuts leather for a new purse at Tori Anna Designs in Damariscotta, April 29. (J.W. Oliver photo)
Tori Anna Dyke cuts leather for a new purse at Tori Anna Designs in Damariscotta, April 29. (J.W. Oliver photo)
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About four years ago, "I saw this small purse that I wanted, and I thought they wanted too much money for it," Dyke said. She decided she could make the purse herself.

"I bought some fabric, made a tote bag, and basically never stopped," she said.

For three years, she traveled to craft fairs, but business was slow.

Alan and Ann Marie McKinnon closed the Narragansett Leathers shop in Damariscotta at the end of 2012. A friend told Dyke about their moving sale. Dyke bought some hides and an industrial sewing machine and started making leather bags.

She had a studio in Brunswick's Fort Andross for six months, "but my dream was to have a brick-and-mortar on Main Street, somewhere by the river," she said.

She was walking down Damariscotta's Main Street in early November and saw a for-rent sign in the window of the McKinnons' old shop. She opened her store on Black Friday 2013.

"I just really think it's cool that their leather ended up coming back to the same spot," she said.

For more information about Tori Anna Designs, call 563-2000, email, like Tori Anna Designs on Facebook, stop in at 49 Main St. in Damariscotta or visit

Tori Anna Designs products are also available at Lisa Marie's Made in Maine, at 170 Front St. in Bath and 35 Exchange St. in Portland.

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