How it Started
I remember, when I was in elementary (Grade 4), I used to help my parents in cleaning and checking the quality and packing shoes before it gets shipped out to different shops/brands in the Philippines. They got the know-how from my grandfather who also made handcrafted shoes in Marikina, all in all, 40+ years of experience making shoes.
In 2016, while still working for an IT firm, we thought of making small handcrafted leather goods. Small handcrafted leather pieces that are not skived and still retained their full grain thickness of 1.6mm to 2.0mm were not common back then. We started with 3 kinds of wallets and 2 keychains. There were days when we got an order for a wallet. That was enough for a day’s sideline since I still had to go to work in tech. But somedays, I had to make 3 wallets, which was already a handful. Days went by and we started getting orders which I can’t do on my own, hence my parents often helped me on the orders. It reached a point in 2017 that we had to focus on this small online business. Clearly, there was a demand for small handcrafted goods made of genuine/full-grain leather.
Personalization with the customer’s names as well as company’s logos started pouring in and it became our bread and butter. There is something with personalized pieces that it makes the item/s very unique specially for gifting and corporate giveaways.
How We Make Our Products
Ever since, and until now, everything is done by hand, the reason for the relatively long leadtime of 3-7 days, depending on the season.
It all starts with the leather. We source our leather from tanneries in Bulacan. The main choices are the shiny and buffed leather which we call Full Side and the Matte and Oily ones which are called Oily Pull-up. For those who seek a more polished look will opt for the Full Side while those who seek the rugged look with semi-anti-scratch properties will choose the Oily Pull-up.
With existing designs that the customers can choose from, they are also given the option to choose the color of the thread if the item is stitched, and/or the hardware if it comes with, keyfobs, button or screw type snaps and even the key rings.
Lastly, the customers can choose to put their initials or initials of the person they will be gifting the items to. Same goes with corporate clients (as much as 2000+ items with one client) if they need initials as well as the logo of their company.
Where We are Right Now
With over hundreds of thousands of products made for retail and hundreds of corporate clients, we are very happy that people are still enjoying their Astrid Leather piece. It gives us joy when someone messages us and sends a picture of their 6 or 7-year old wallet and we happily tell them that they might still be able to pass it on to their kids or grandkids.
In 2023, we ramped up or prototyping team and decided to explore new kinds of leather and items. We have started making sling bags and used vegetable-tanned leather to achieve thinner designs and burnished edges without using edge paint. So far, we happily found another market with those looking for more premium items using vegetable-tanned leather.
We’re very happy on where we are right now. Hopefully we get to receive more design requests and try making them. To be honest, the items that we handcraft are limited to the leather that we can procure but more specially our skillset. Stitching items by hand also poses a lot of limitation on the types of design and how fast we can make products. But we decided to stick to this craft. Everyday is a challenge and we strive to learn new skills on the art of leathercraft and release more designs in the years to come.