It’s incredible to think it’s a year since we first went into lockdown. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of our customers and friends who have stood by us this year.
It’s been a tough year for everyone. Some of you have been furloughed or lost your jobs. Some have been ill, or even lost loved ones. I’m humbled by the support you’ve continued to give us. We literally have you to thank for the fact the business is still here.
I remember standing in the workshop a year ago and realising that all the conduits our sales came from were closing. All the events we loved so much, like Chelsea and Kew and the craft fairs, were being cancelled.
I thought to myself, “What do I do now?” And I reached for some canvas and started making facemasks. It didn’t take long to realise I was going to have to make an awful lot of face masks to keep the business going.
The thing is, for us, and many many other artisan crafts, we’re used to meeting our customers face to face.
We have complete confidence in the quality of our products and the materials they’re made from. When we meet our customers, they can pick up our leather bags and belts, they can feel and smell the quality. They aren’t just investing in a bag or a belt, they’re investing in us. In our traditions and processes. They trust us to provide a beautiful product that's built to last and has been created with integrity.
It’s incredibly difficult to communicate these things online.
And the thing is, I love that I know where the source products have come from. To be honest, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t. There are lots of materials out there that I like the look of, but I don’t use because they have a huge carbon footprint, I know they’ve come from massive herds in South America or China.
It’s of the ultimate importance to me that our business continues to operate with integrity so our customers can be confident that I’ve done due diligence on their investment.
It’s also important to me that we support other domestic manufacturers like Thomas Ware, who supplies our leather. And Annie Mackay of Crotal Harris Tweed and Abbey England who supply our buckles and metal fixings.
These vital components of our products may be more expensive than the alternatives, but they too share our values of using the very best materials and traditional, sustainable processes. And they are built to last.
One thing that has kept me going this year is the joy of escaping into the workshop and working out how to create something beautiful from the leather in my hands. I hope sometime soon I’ll be able to share this with more of you as we open up our maker classes once more. There really is something amazing about thinking of a design and bringing it to life with the most beautiful of materials. It’s an incredible blessing to be able to get into a zone and forget about the world for a while.
If you’re looking to invest in an artisan product, whether it’s made from leather or any other material, my advice is to be sure about the company you’re buying from. Check out the materials they use. Find out who their suppliers are. Make sure they have ethical credentials. Phone them up or send them an email and ask them questions.
Let’s continue to support heritage crafts here in the UK. And I hope we can meet face-to-face again soon. Collette and I have missed you. Thank you again.