Recently, I began a path to becoming the most skilled craftsman I can possible be, attempting to master the art of leathercraft at a luxury level for the sake of furthering my own knowledge of this craft I've made a career of. I've always been obsessive over my hobbies and interests, and this business is no exception. I live and breathe business, design, and --most importantly-- leather.
I've often be enamored with the talent I've seen coming from other high-end American makers and even more so the increasing amount of seriously talented east Asian makers in Japan, South Korea, and China that populate my Instagram feed. The more new techniques and wonderfully executed details I began to see, the more I thought, "I know I can do that", albeit not without a lot of research, frustration, experimentation, and messed up samples that I don't share with the public. For a time, it was difficult managing what level of work and attention to detail we strive for at Loyal Stricklin with my own pursuit of perfection in my personal work.
In order to dive deeper into the craft, I first needed to define what level my business would seek to achieve. We have improved the quality of our products every year we've been in business, and we are finally at a level we feel that we can maintain with efficiency. We are proud of our products, which can stand on their own, live a durable life, and be a keepsake to the customer. We don't just glue some leather together stitch it, and call it done. We take many, many steps to make sure the leather is thin where it needs to be thin, thick where it needs to be thick, with smooth, burnished or folded edges, and that we use the appropriate type of leather for the job.
When designing a product and establishing the level of detail you want to achieve, you undoubtedly want a product that is the best: to be recognized by your peers and customers as a serious, quality company with high standards, but -- at the same time-- you need to be able to turn a profit, to make a living and pay your bills and employees, and because of this, some details must be chosen and others not. This isn't to say this level of work needs to cut corners, which we are vehemently against, but there is a certain level of detail we seek and that has an endpoint. You could spend hours making an edge precisely smooth and shiny with a perfect chamfer, sanding it and burnishing it a dozen times, but at what cost?
There are constant trade-offs in running a business and choosing the details of a product. For Loyal Stricklin, I chose to make seriously quality products, with beautiful design (we think so at least!), and quality, hardwearing, and durable materials, with simple, yet precise detailing. We spend a lot on time on the details, but it can always be taken further. Which leads us to the purpose of Loyal Bespoke.
Loyal Bespoke is our next level up. It does not hold back, taking each piece to the next level up and full extent of our abilities, with hours upon hours spent on each product, each handmade by me, Michael Stricklin, with the utmost attention to every little detail. The wallet featured in this post was our first Loyal Bespoke project. This wallet took 10 hours to hand-cut, assemble, detail, and stitch. The edge polishing alone took 4 hours worth of work and every single pocket except the front two is lined on the backside with the same leather you can see from the front, which equates to double the amount of leather needed for a regular bifold as well.
Not only are the materials used high-end and luxurious, but it also has a price tag indicative of the amount of work put in. The wallet featured here sells for $950, while one of our Loyal Stricklin bifolds sells for $100. The amount of time and detail put forth into the Alligator wallet takes extreme skill, of which I'm still learning and exploring how to work at this level.
Loyal Bespoke is an exploration in which we adhere to a certain level of work, as follows:
-Meticulous detailing, including cutting, hand stitching, and edge finishing techniques
-Luxury Materials, including but not limited to Alligator, lizard, calfskin, Chevré, ostritch or any other high end materials requested, from unlined to fully lined products. (reptile or ostritch pieces must be lined).
-Full customization, from colors to leather types. Loyal Bespoke is here to cater to the most discerning clients.
-A 10 year warranty against craftsmanship, including stitching and edge finishing. Just return the product to us and we will fix or repair it for free.
If you'd like to explore your own custom piece, please email me at email@example.com.
All wallet projects start at $500.
Bags start at $2000.
My rate is $95/hr plus materials or the minimum price, whichever is greater. Customer pays a non refundable 1/2 estimate deposit up front. Shipping is free for US customers and $30 for international customers. No returns. No exchanges.
Our first project below is a full-belly cut American Alligator exterior with a Lupine Blue Chevre lined cash pocket, Essex Blue Chevre interior with Blue Fil Au Chinois Waxed Linen thread, with Navy polished edge and a 1.5mm edge crease around every edge. This was created for a customer whose boyfriend has an affinity for Alligator Leather, and chose the colors for his piece himself, and I love how it turned out! The Lupine Blue cash pocket adds a sense of flair without being overly loud, just what the client was going for. this piece was $950.