Shop Talk : Leather love: Rebeccah J. turns hobby to business
Photo courtesy of Rebeccah Clark
Leather, one of the oldest materials used by man, predates axes and spears and has stood the test of time. Egyptian leather in museums remains in good condition more than 3,000 years later. So to get the most bang for your buck, buying leather in the form of purses, wallets, earrings, and bracelets may enable you to save money in the long run. Lucky for you we have a talented newcomer to the Island's artisan scene, Rebeccah J. Clark.
Ms. Clark's new leather line, rebeccah j, was born from a love of making gifts for friends and family. She started her foray into leather in 2006 when she began making bags and wallets for herself. That led to items for family and friends, along with some special orders.
"I taught myself how to do it," Ms. Clark said, "with the help of my knowledge about sewing and patterns, though I don't sew the leather, as it is too tough...I bought the tools and supplies online and got started."
Ms. Clark's products lend themselves to an earthy quality that, according to her, "Embraces my enjoyment of using raw edges that follow the natural cut of the leather. I like keeping the natural look of the leather, though I do have some more colorful options in hues of rose gold and lagoon, to name a few. I try to customize for people and even do special order items like bridesmaid gifts that can be chosen for a specific personality or theme. As leather has a timeless feel to it, it lends itself to being a perfect gift for someone."
In fact, gifts are how her highly desirable wrap bracelets came to be. She started last winter making them as Christmas presents, which led to requests for more and finally she ended up selling more than 200 of them this summer.
When asked how her hobby moved to a business and if she always knew it was what she wanted to do, Ms. Clark laughed and said, "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I have always been drawn to the arts, having taken different courses in photography, graphic design, and computer design. I understood that I like designing, but I found I love making and building things more. Leather is the combination of what I enjoy about sewing, the design aspect, but with all the tools. I also owe a big thank you to all of my friends and family that kept pushing me to start this business over the last year."
Keeping in mind that all of Ms. Clark's items are handmade, she elaborated on her process: "I hand-cut then stitch everything myself and put in linings when appropriate. All of my linings are made of Thai silk as I fell in love with it when I visited there one winter. For the past nine years I bartended in the summers so I could travel in the winter and it was on one of these trips, to Thailand, where I found this silk that I just had to bring home. I am still always on the lookout for cool materials to work with."
She current sells some of her products at b*tru on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs and Bluefish on Winter Street in Edgartown, both currently open on weekends. Prices range from $25 for earrings and some bracelets, to $225 for bags.
Ms. Clark is also offering a fun, social option to be able to shop her designs, a Leather Party where you can host your friends to a rebeccah j show in the comfort of your own home. You supply the friends and refreshments and Ms. Clark will bring the goods. "They can buy whatever I have there or special order items. I like to custom-size the bracelets, as I do them in all sizes, even for kids. Included in the show will be my full line of purses, clutches, wallets, bracelets, and leaf earrings. I am able to take credit cards as well, which makes the shopping easier. As a thank you for hosting the party, I provide the hostess with a special gift at the end of the evening," Ms. Clark said.
Looking to the future, Ms. Clark said, "I have done some custom pieces for men and will look forward to starting a line for men in the future. Currently I have been concentrating on my lady's line as I feel my look is really feminine with the way the stitching flows and the custom silk linings. I plan on having many more Island stores carrying my line this summer and am considering opening my own shop in my now hometown of Oak Bluffs."
For more information or to order, visit rebeccahj.com or call Ms. Clark directly at 508-344-3336.