Cory Carnley: What Does it Take for Successful Leather Crafting Today?
Leather crafting is a combination of skills. As most experienced leather workers like Cory Carnley know, it involves tailoring, crafting, drawing, visualizing, a bit of carpentry, and some aptitude for anticipating what the end product is going to look like before starting. The more one builds up in skill, the more familiar one gets between concept and end product delivered. Of course, there can be a Grand Canyon of differences in between them, and good tools or good materials alone don’t make up the difference.
The production of leather crafting has always been in demand. Granted, Cory Carnley won’t argue today’s market is very different than in ancient times, but even today, with everything that is available and within reach on the Internet, authentic leather goods are still in high demand. Whether because of the uniqueness of the product or the fact that it is handmade versus one of the thousands from a machine, people appreciate good quality leathercraft. And it’s a skill that sets apart the high quality from the mediocre.
One of the best ways to approach the trade is, first off, don’t cut corners. Too often, new players are trying to shave off expenses, using less than stellar tooling and poorer quality materials. It shows in the end product. The stitching looks poor, the construction doesn’t hold up, and the poor-quality leather wears down too quickly or falls apart under wear and tear. Instead, a dedicated approach uses premium leather sourced from reputable tanneries that take the extra step to seal the edges and reduce moisture penetration while in storage pending usage. It costs more as a resource, but the difference is evident in the final crafting.
Second, not rushing the job makes a huge difference as well. Good crafting requires patience versus trying to meet as much as possible and as fast as possible. Surprisingly, unlike cloth, leather doesn’t leave much room for error. So, mistakes can be costly, literally losing entire pieces due to a bad cut or mistake. Some might be salvageable for smaller sections, but there’s only so much leather to go around before another whole section, and the related price has to be consumed. So, Carnley argues, patience actually improves efficiency versus reducing it.
Third, there’s always room to learn more. Carnley has learned, his own leathercrafting education included, that good crafting comes from listening to those more experienced and applying their lessons. In turn, be willing to pass the knowledge down to beginners. Leathercrafting only exists because people are willing to share it versus hoarding knowledge. Unlike other industries, the competition is nil or none. The demand is high for good quality work, and there simply aren’t enough crafters out there to fill the gap. So, everyone has plenty of room to grow and find their niche.
Instead of worrying about being the business with the most customers and the biggest market, Cory Carnley suggests putting all the effort into developing great skills. The rest will take care of itself on the natural.