Rhode Island Entrepreneur Revolutionizes Travel Accessories with Shoe-Lovers in Mind

What started as a Providence pop-up is now a flagship store in Newport selling luxe luggage

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Tracey Cugno knows a thing or two about consumer behavior. She had retail shops in T.F. Green as well as Connecticut’s Bradley Airport for a combined 15 years, and spent much of that time talking to seasoned travelers about their packing methodology. She learned the tips and tricks they use to maximize efficiency, from breezing through TSA security checkpoints to the art of tucking your carry-on into those remarkably small overhead bins. She also learned about their wants and needs that weren’t being met – and saw a market opportunity. 

“That’s how I got into luggage and luggage design,” explains Cugno, who has also owned Shades and Pier Optical, a sunglasses shop in Narragansett, since 2007. “I had a front row seat with thousands of people walking by me every day. I got to see how they picked their bags up, how they carried them, who looked like they were happy carrying their bag and who didn’t.” She interviewed thousands of passengers and then took two years to plan, test, and ultimately launch the LEIGH line of innovative luggage and travel accessories.

In early 2020, LEIGH had a two-month pop-up shop in Providence that Cugno functionally used to dip her toe in the marketplace. She garnered invaluable consumer insights before the COVID lockdown, and last June, opened the LEIGH flagship on Newport’s Thames Street in a designer collaboration with Azzul, a collection of men and women’s footwear handmade in Portugal.

LEIGH’s product line is meticulously curated and edited: It’s quality not quantity, and the aesthetic is simple, chic, smart, and understated. There’s a backpack that comes in two different sizes and the signature LEIGH ShoeBag, which comes with a simple “S” clip so you can attach it to the travel bag. There’s a modern duffle that fits multiple pairs of shoes in custom compartments, plus an expansive separate space for clothing and designated padded laptop section with pockets for cords. Then there’s the piece de resistance, the Resort ShoeCase, which features a packing system that would make Carrie Bradshaw swoon. With hints of a vintage travel case but thoroughly modern, the Resort ShoeCase can fit up to six pairs of shoes and contains movable dividers to accommodate different shapes and sizes of footwear.

Most impressively – and importantly – is that all LEIGH bags include an exclusive antimicrobial silver lining, called Ionic+™ Antimicrobial/Anti-Odor Silver Tech, that prevents bacteria and odor for the accessory’s lifetime.

“I just wanted to provide ease, comfort, and a solution,” says Cugno, who lives in Westerly where the LEIGH warehouse is located. Now in business for two years, she is proud to say that she has not had a single return. And as travel slowly ramps up to pre-pandemic popularity, you’ll likely be seeing more of LEIGH – pieces of our small state jet-setting their way around the world. 

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