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The Purse You Want From the Python No One Wants

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- Working on a farm during her Houston childhood, Camille Zarsky would stumble across snakeskin shed by pythons and marvel at the beauty and elegance in the intricate patterns of each skin.

She describes it as something of an infatuation.

That infatuation morphed into the defining element of a wildly successful career for the young New York accessories designer.

Zarsky, who set out on her own in the fashion industry just three years ago, designs sleek, elegant python-skin handbags and clutches that are frequently part of the ensembles of celebrities walking the red carpet. Padma Lakshmi and Gayle King are among her admirers.

So too are the fashion arbiters at Vogue, InStyle and Redbook, who feature Zarsky's high-priced handbags and accessories on their pages regularly. (Prices for bags in her collection are as high as $35,000).

Now Zarsky is attracting attention in another way, this time for trying to help tackle an ecological problem while making her fashionable luxury handbags. And yes, pythons are again part of the story.

The reptiles have multiplied in the Florida Everglades, growing to be such a problem that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last year sponsored a monthlong Python Challenge public hunt of the snakes.

At the suggestion of her father, Zarsky, who sources skins primarily from Europe, has chosen to source skins for her collection from the Everglades as well. The bags she makes from the Everglades skins will be individually numbered works of art, she says.

"I love the idea of taking a resource that would otherwise thrown away and making something very artful out of it," says Zarsky during a recent telephone interview.

What initially seemed like a win-win, though, has grown into a bit of a challenge.

Python skins from the Everglades are often smaller then Zarsky needs for her handbags. What's more, finding tanneries in the United States that can meet the tanning and dying specifications for Zarsky's unique, vibrantly colored designs is also not as simple as one might think.

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