Hi, Joseph here. I am now a full time leather crafts person, working from my studio in Manchester, UK. This has not always been the case though, so here is a little bit about how I got here.

I worked in luxury retail for a number of years. The company I worked for continues to be one of the biggest international players in that space. Like many of these luxury houses, they had their core staple product(s) but had also expanded into other areas.

The quality and craftsmanship of my employers main staple was exceptional and I truly enjoyed introducing this item to the uninitiated, as well as showing off new developments to the already converted. This passion of mine did not, however, extend to some of the other product areas that the brand had expanded into.

Their leather goods, from a craft perspective, were, for the most part, unexceptional. Produced in the same Italian and Chinese bag factories that produce the majority of the Worlds' "luxury" leather goods. They were mass produced with sale-ability and profit the main considerations. Materials and hardware were mostly low cost, so they just didn't feel as good as they should for how much they cost. Customers bought them however. Most customers were just blinded by the brand and weren't discerning enough to know what real leather craftsmanship was.

It still amazes me that some people will fall over themselves to spend 1000's on a big name luxury brand when there are so many independent crafts people out there producing far superior products. This is the power of massive marketing budgets I guess.

My own journey into leather crafting started while I was working in luxury retail. I started making simple items and slowly developed competency. I made keychains and belts for myself and family members. Eventually, I built up enough confidence in my skills to offer my items for sale. I created an Etsy shop and posted a few simple keychains I had made. To my surprise, they started to sell and people started to ask me to make custom items for them.

Eventually, I received a request to make a card holder in the style of Hermès' Calvi. I had heard of the brand before but hadn't worked with chrome tanned leather or even press snaps. I nonetheless took on the challenge. Not only did I have to figure out how it was constructed but I also had to source the correct leather and press snaps. I wasn't going to settle for anything but as perfect a recreation that I was able to manage. The client was happy with the result. I took pictures of this piece and posted it to Etsy and this is now one of my most popular items. I continue to receive custom requests and enjoy the challenge that many of these commissions pose me.