Creating something from start to finish is a very fulfilling process. It would save time to produce in batches. And it would DEFINITELY save money to design my leather bags and get them made off shore (while spruiking the fact that I would teeeechnically still be an Australian business selling handmade products). But it’s not about that...for me, it’s about truly connecting...connecting to the leather, connecting to the process, connecting to the customer.
Connecting to the Leather
Working with leather is such a privilege. It is such a beautiful textural medium that pays homage to the beast who wore it. It is a by-product of the meat industry and while people continue to consume meat, I know I’d rather see those unused hides turned into leather than being disposed of. You can see and feel any scars or wrinkles, and in a world where we are increasingly connected to devices, there’s something so luxurious about working with high quality leather.
Connecting to the Process
How many people get to go to work and complete a whole job in a day and have a beautiful tangible piece to show for it.?! I love this aspect of my job. There’s the process of designing a leather bag, road testing, and continually tweaking each design as you make another.
And then there’s the process of making a bag...I mark out the design on a hide to showcase the natural hallmarks of the leather.
I cut out the leather, the lining, the pocket material, and collate zips and other hardware that I will be using in the bag.
I thread the sewing machine with the matching thread...become engrossed in the sewing process as the walking foot on the machine hums with each stitch.
Then I cut the straps and sit on the floor using a mallet and my tools to create the bag strap and attach its hardware.
It’s time for the leather to be conditioned with my 100% Natural Leather Conditioner that I hand make.
And then I stand back and look at the leather bag I have just made and I feel pretty chuffed. As I wrap it and write a card for it’s new owner, I feel grateful for the Slow Fashion Movement and that I get to constantly evolve and fine tune my skills and process every day.
Connecting to the Customer
I have put a lot of time and energy into creating the Workbelt website. I am not the least bit tech savvy but I have built the website myself as I feel it connects me to my customers. I don’t use professional models for my shoots...I want to create an experience that shows real beautiful women wearing Workbelt bags.
In designing and making each bag, I feel as though I put a little bit of my heart and soul into each one. So when my phone notifies me that an order has come in (my favourite phone sound), I get very excited. I see your name and what you have ordered, and I get to work. I make your bag, wrap it up and stroll along to the Post Office to post it to you. I am connected to the customer throughout the whole process...there’s not many businesses that have this privilege. And occasionally you send me a pic or tag me in a pic of you using your Workbelt bag...I LOVE it when you do this!
So thank you for recognising that there are people and processes behind the fashion we wear, and supporting Australian designed AND Australian made leather bags at Workbelt.