Scarisbrick Craft Studio is a one-man-band operation based in Cardiff in the South of Wales. As a result everything from website design to admin and the actual craftsmanship runs through just one chap. Me! My name is Jeff and I'd like to take this opportunity to natter a bit about why I do what I do and why I do things that way.
My journey into leatherworking has been almost a surprise to me. I'd had the kind of eclectic-bouncing-around-jobs "career path" that a lot of creative types find themselves in. Then, in 2015 as a result of wanting to make a cosplay prop, I began to research how to work leather properly. I found very quickly that not only was this very fullfilling, but I also seemed to take to it fairly easily. Thus began a couple of years of playing around with practicing techniques and building my tools and supplies. All of a sudden, it seemed to me at least, I was producing items that not only was I happy with, but other people were happy to part with hard earned money to own. That finished off the transition and the company whose website you are reading was born.
My Philosophy of making
I'm often asked how a lone crafter like myself can compete with a globalised corporate world.? It's a good question. If I was looking to take them on at their own game I'd be crushed like a bug, fortunately I don't see myself as being even in the same industry as the big boys and girls. Small makers like me are providing a very different service. There are a few things that we can bring that no-one bigger can:
Personalisation: While a big fashion house will have dozens of designs, you are stuck picking which of their designs suits you, if nothing does then tough. The small maker, as a result of making things bespoke, can make exactly what you want.
Quality: This isn't me knocking the big houses, they make good products, but unless you are buying from their couture range you will be subject to cost pressures to maximise profit from the high street price. It makes sense if you are making a million bags to use slightly cheaper thread, the tiny amount you save multiplied by a million makes a significant amount. At the volumes I make, it is meaningless. So I might as well use the good stuff all the time.
Durability: I have no interest in the cycles of fashion other than to the extent that they affect what my clients want. I'm not making something that is designed to be obsolete by next quarter's collection. I'm making objects that can last a lifetime.
Tradition: there is value to maintaining traditional methods of working while embracing modern materials. There is no machine that can saddle stitch so the best and strongest stitching still has to be done by hand.
Make local: rather than shipping my wares from Bangladesh with the consequent economic and environmental costs I make largely where I sell.
So with all that taken into consideration, I think it's fairly clear that I'm not in competition with the big boys, I'm an entirely different service. My customers want something personal, something durable, something that will age and serve them well over decades. Luckily that's what I love making.
It might seem a bit dry to talk about ethics, but for my industry to exist animals must give their lives, thus it is important to think about our ethical positions in these cases. I believe in ever improving standards of animal welfare in farming. I believe in using every part of an animal as a mark of respect to it. I believe in causing the least possible waste from that animal. Furthermore I believe that it is environmentally incumbent upon us to use long-lasting, renewable materials like leather, wool, linen, cotton and the like. We must reject fast fashion and buy less but better. I believe in paying a fair wage for fair work. I reject the exploitation of countries less fortunate than ours to maximise a profit margin. I believe in respect for my fellow man and in paying my dues rather than being a shell corporation in the Caymans. I believe in forming relationships with my clients and making good mistakes.
Head over to our Contact Us section and drop me an email to discuss a commissioned piece, or drop by the store and see what we have already made and ready to go. If we agree to go ahead with a commission the procedure is that either the materials cost or half the project cost - whichever is higher is due as a non-refundable deposit. You do not have to pay the balance until you approve the final work. That way we are both protected. I of course offer normal refund and exchange policies on pre-made items bought from the store. That is very different to a personalised, commissioned item that I may struggle to sell to anyone else. I will be up front about costs and I charge my labour at £15 an hour. I hope to make you something lovely soon.