Three years ago, Alaina Marie Harris stumbled across a lobsterman’s bait bag. The texture and color of the material grabbed her. Instead of inspiring thoughts of sweet, tender meat and drawn butter, though, she thought of handbags.

“I always wanted to figure out way to make a living doing something creative,” she said. “So I decided to try making a bag out of the same materials that a real bait bag is made from. I styled it up by putting a zipper in and stuff.”

She started from home, opening a shop on, and began making sales. Then she started making the rounds of stores in Portland to see if any were interested in carrying her bags. A tiny studio space in South Portland became a de facto retail store, and when her fledgling business outgrew that last June, she opened a working studio at 332 Fore St. in the Old Port.

Harris takes the same marine-grade, fine-mesh material that’s used to hold fish guts, and she silkscreens a netting design on it in eye-popping colors. She makes clutches ($65), wristlets ($55) and wallets ($45), which are her best seller. Harris has ideas for expanding her line, but her business has grown so quickly those new products will have to wait until she has shaped it into a well-staffed, smoothly running operation.

Her products can be ordered from her website,, where you’ll also find a long list of retailers that carry the bags.