How I Started Leatherworking, and everything you need to know to start leatherwotking
So why did I start leatherworking?
Like many of us, I have always had little hobbies, been good with my hands, but making wallets and the like was never a thought. I have had many jobs, in construction, trained as a plumbing engineer, sales, real estate. But with a change of circumstances, the prospect of being in that rat race, building somebody else´s dream forever just doesn´t seem so appealing when there is so much to see in this world. Not that I don't like my job and the social element, but the prospect of having my own financial freedom has always been of great interest to me.
So, one day, whilst stomping away on a treadmill, I was listening to the Unofficial Shopify podcast with Kurt Elster, and it was the episode on Popov Leather. And Ryan Popoff, the founder of Popov Leathers, in a similar fashion, had come upon the craft of leatherworking, and is now one of the most popular brands out there. I highly recommend you listen to that, and the whole podcast actually, there is so much information to improve your store.
Then, as you do, I settled in front of my screen, typed ´making leather wallets´ into the tube, and down the hole I went. Three days of these videos, and a week later I had the leather workers starter kit and a bundle of scrap leather (Do reach out to me, I would be glad to help you out with that).
I also saw a few vids, of some high end wallets, 100-300 dollar range, and more, and when taken apart, my oh my ! This wallet here, is a card holder, and retails for around 150 dollars and above, and paper is used as filler.
*Image taken from Corter Leather youtube channel.
I thought, if I were to spend that on a wallet, I want the entire thing to be made of leather, solid, thick stitching, so I don't have to be too careful, it will last a lifetime, and I don't have to be making a painful decision of spending three figures on a wallet.
I live in Madrid, Spain, so there is an old culture of leather working here, a pocket of equestrian shops that supply Leather sourced here in Spain still exist in the city. So off I went, and just grabbed a few more pieces of leather, as the first lot I bought online were really thick and in bad shape. Not knowing what I was getting, I ended up with some synthetic leather and some Cordovan leather.
At first I was measuring my cards, not leaving enough room for the stitching, the stitching was wavy, cards wouldn't fit, near on cut off a fingertip, but I was enjoying the process. My research continued of course, as being self taught was never going to be an easy challenge, but there is an amazingly helpful community out there, and they will all take time out to answer your questions.
Stock and Barrel, Corter Leather, Weavers leather supply and many many more put out amazing content, free templates, great tools, all around very helpful advice.
Eventually, after many many long nights, which still continue, I repeatedly made the same wallets, stitched lines into scrap leather, cut shapes, sharpened scalpels, poked fingers with needles, then bit by bit, improving little by little, the work was good, the lines were straight, cards were fitting smoothly, and the satisfaction was enough for all the failed attempts.
I started getting compliments on my wallets, a few people asked me for one, and so Isko Leathers was born, and is now an all consuming passion, trying to make that perfect wallet, get the perfect stitching line, just make the best two hands are capable of doing.
So its been around a year and a half now, and I finally felt like I was ready to present my work to others. My reviews from Etsy sales have all been amazing, and I am and will always be perfecting the craft, but I really do pay attention to the smallest details to the best of my ability, and really take pride and appreciate that someone will be using this day in day out.
As my first post, I just wanted to get a little information out about who I am and why I do this, and I´m not just buying an reselling, I make everything from cut to stitch by hand. I will be posting more regularly, about my work, thoughts, leatherworking, tips and tricks I have learned along the way, but thank you for reading through if you have, and whatever your passion is, Grind away, it will give in before you do !