Q What have you done to pass this trade on to younger generations?
A Mostly train ’em right here in the shop. We have interns [who] work here. Through the Dunwoody Makers Coalition, there is a program now, a sewing certification program. It’s a six-month course to teach people to use machines, basic math. Even some English. They just graduated their first class this year.
Q How old is your oldest sewing machine?
A I think it’s over 100. This old Singer. I actually was able to download the owner’s manual from the Smithsonian Institution’s archive. And you can still order parts for it. It’s great. Hasn’t changed much over the years.
Q I don’t see any of those fancy computerized sewing machines around here.
A No, we don’t have anything like that. They are all basic, single-needle stitch machines. Not that we wouldn’t like to have one. We may go to that, depending on the demand.
Q How has technology helped your business?
A A lot. Social media has been the key thing. Besides the grace of God, social media is the next thing that really did make a big, big difference. It’s all free. It’s gotten the word out there. Instagram, it’s been golden for us. LeatherworksMN, Facebook. In our online store we get orders almost daily. That’s been great.
Q On the flip side, do you forgo technology and do anything the “old-fashioned” way?
A Yes. We do some hand-sewing. We do one hand-sewn product [a three-pocket wallet], and it’s been really well received. And we’re working on some other things. We do our ordering of inventory by hand and inspecting of hides by hand.
Q Do I understand that Jay Z owns something that you made?
A Rumor has it. We do some eyeglass cases for a place called Silver Lining [Opticians] in New York City, and they tweeted us that he had picked up one of the cases. [That prompted the interviewer to crack a whip made of belt scraps for not informing her.] Sorry, C.J., not the whip again!