The current trends are irrelevant, the real pursuit is purpose in craft and passion for longevity, allow me to explain:
A few years ago I was transitioning out of what seemed to be a permanent career, it was a surprise to myself as well as the people around me, although to be truthful I had not been happy for some time. I have had over fifty jobs ranging from janitorial duties, bar-tending, restaurant management, grocery management, building custom motorcycles, multiple construction jobs and finally my current renovation business and leather bag brand. (a lot of little weird jobs in between all these). I wish I could say that any of these jobs gave me a feeling of completion, they did not. Obviously we are not designed to get fulfillment from our job alone, but what we DO for the bulk hours of our day definitely contributes to some of these feelings.
When I was a kid, growing up in rural WV, the options for amusement were not large, I spent hours sewing little backpacks and clothes for my tiny soldiers and action figures, this should have been a clue as to some of my passion but sometimes these things go unnoticed and time eventually will bring it back to the forefront. Speed up to current day...I was in a store that my wife and I like to frequent, it is boutique (name left out to protect the innocent) and does an excellent job of capturing the work wear style of women that was a norm in the 40's and 50's. They had a large amount of bags, boasting an "old world style" I picked one up and was disappointed by the quality, which did not match the price tag. I suddenly determined to make a quality bag that truly did capture the feel of that era as well as more modern feels.
Any of you that have pursued a new craft understand that it can be very daunting, thread selections, leather weight, tools, work-space, etc. all play into the learning curve and in my case took time to accrue as I wanted to build this thing with zero debt. I have currently made dozens of bags represented across the east coast and now the Midwest as well as California. My goal is to flood the market with handmade leather bags that are not intended to be "throw away" but rather heritage pieces that will reflect the owners life and then be passed on.
The reason I started this stream of content with "trends are irrelevant" is to emphasize that longevity is more than just being fluid with trends, it is possible to build a good brand by keeping up with the ever evolving whims of the general public? Yes, but it is also possible to build something that has a defining style and purpose, that targets a certain group of people who are looking for a brand that they believe represents them. I liken this to my favorite men's scent that is a mixture of spices, and can only be sourced from a few places. I wear this because I feel like it best represents my self perception. It is the same for my bags, not every one will like them...they are not going to appeal to all of current trends or fashion, but they most certainly will to those that are looking for permanence in a constantly changing society. (of course this is all subjective for all of us as each person has a different pursuit and passion)
The bottom line is:
1. What really motivates you?
2. How does the motivation benefit not only you but those around you?
3. Can it be translated into a product that generates income?
Many of you (like Khi) are already successful and have been working your craft for longer than I have, I celebrate and thank each of you for inspiring the rest of us to do something beyond what social norms dictate, it is possible that some of you are "Multi-Potentialities" (there is an excellent TED talk on this) and you may be able to balance multiple career tracks, whatever we each may be we have a commonality in chasing what we think is important.
My favorite quote is from Steve Jobs, he said "I don't make for people what they want, I make for them what I think they need." Seems a little brassy and arrogant, but there is a little arrogance required to believe that your product is desirable...Believe in you, that is actually all you need to make it. Cheers and respect!
Samuel Brand bags