Arts & Culture

Built to last

Local leather goods designer finds online success in homemade wares

Hand and Sew founder Steven Enns wasn’t able to find a thin leather wallet that suited his style.

So he made one.

“I kind of just started with sewing leather pieces together, tying the ends together and stuff,” said the former University of Manitoba fine arts student.
“This one I made in April,” he said, pointing out the crooked stitching and cut lines on a worn version of the cardholder that is now for sale through his Etsy shop. “So you can see I got a lot better.”

Now a third-year student in the Industrial Design program at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Enns perfected his leatherworking skills and built the Hand and Sew brand in his spare time.

“I’ve learned a lot of techniques from different online forums. It’s a really old process, so finding a lot of good information is not easy, but I also bought a really good book that was written in the ‘40s or ‘50s that I’ve learned a lot from,” said Enns.

“I’ve received a lot of compliments on my wallet, and people seem to appreciate that someone actually made it with their bare hands,” said Complex Magazine contributor Andy Oliver who owns one of Enns’s wallets.

“I’m a big fan of hand crafted goods, and Steven’s leather work is top notch,” he added.

Enns and Oliver met through Twitter over a mutual passion for sneakers.

“His enthusiasm is infectious. On top of his obvious talent, Steven also has a real passion for design,” said Oliver.

Enns’s work is inspired by the Everyday Carry (EDC) community, and the sub-Reddit “Buy it For Life.”

“For guys it’s hard to carry a lot of stuff on you – you have to be very selective of what you carry. So EDC focuses on what you carry, how you carry it, and how it changes and lasts over time,” said Enns.

“Buy it For Life focuses on products that will last you forever. They might be a little bit more pricey, but they’re built to last you an entire lifetime.”

Clothing and upholstery is typically made of chrome-tanned leather, which involves lots of chemicals and produces soft leather that doesn’t wear well. Enns’s products are made from vegetable tanned leather – an all-natural process that results in very sturdy, long-lasting leather.

Currently, Enns’s “Simple Handmade Leather Wallet” cardholder is the only product available through the Hand and Sew Etsy shop.

“I’ve also gotten some requests for custom work through Reddit,” said Enns.

The next items to be available through the Etsy shop are a key carrier, which attaches to the belt with a gun sling clip, and an iPhone case.

_Check out the Hand and Sew Etsy shop at: www.etsy.com/shop/HandandSew

Follow Hand and Sew @HandandSew_