We’re passionate about sustainability and love to see artists weave the focus into their work, across creative disciplines. In line with our focus on quality, sustainable leathercraft, we spoke with two talented makers in the Artisanry Co. community – Natasha Kerimova and Jenna Hopkins.

If you missed part one of our sustainable leather series, you can read about Roslyn’s practices here.

Natasha Kerimova – Ten Cloudy

Natasha, the designer and maker of Ten Cloudy, creates luxury leather bags and accessories. The elegant style of her work has eco-conscious practices at the heart of her creative process. Shop Ten Cloudy at our online store.

Inspiration for leathercraft

“My inspiration for working with leather was driven by the love of fashion and fashion accessories in general. I wanted to focus my education on a specific area in fashion, and a few years ago, I started to attend various small art and craft classes to get a feel for what resonated with me.

I was lucky. Quite soon, I came across a 2-day bag-making class in London. I fell in love straight away with the smell of vegetable tanned leather, with leather crafter tools, threads, paints and saddlery stitching, which is very different from hand sewing.”

Balancing quality and sustainability

“In order to balance quality and sustainability, we invest in high-quality, veg-tanned leather from Toscana which is also eco-friendly. Our Italian suppliers use natural tannins that have no negative environmental impact. The method is ancient and requires skilled​ craftsmanship, which results in more sustainable and authentic materials. This is personally important for me as a craftsperson. 

I try not to compromise on the quality of materials and work. High-quality fair trade materials do not come cheap. So, I teach my audience about what is behind each bag and how much effort and time is put into each item.  I am a passionate advocate of slow fashion and sustainability: buy less but invest in better quality and long-lasting items!”

The role of the craftsman

“I think as craftsmen we should try to source locally as much as we can to decrease carbon footprint. Only source materials from sustainable companies, who care about fair labour pay and adhere to principles of respect to the environment.

We should do some collective buying when it helps to decrease the cost of materials. It is important to be open to our customers about the supply chains and processes and constantly keep the dialogue with them to explain and show what and how we are doing. We need to change the habits of customers that are oriented at a quick, cheap fashion which the mass-market oriented fashion industry has created for the last decades.

As a small craft business, we should aim at zero waste production processes (to the best extent possible). We need to use cut offs and waste from our main production to make smaller items. For example, this is how my line of purses/cardholders was born. Cut-offs and production waste materials are also useful in collaborations between artisans of different crafts/arts (for example, between fashion and visual arts).”

Jenna Hopkins – Colourful Pixie

Jenna Hopkins, the maker behind Colourful Pixie, is best known for her abstract paintings. But she also creates stunning leather jewellery pieces. Shop Colourful Pixie at our online store.

Inspiration for leathercraft

“It’s about constantly adding value to my brand and to show initiative and courage to think outside the box. I want to offer smaller pieces, affordable for everyone whilst still offering sustainability and diversity to my range.

Leather jewellery is so versatile and lightweight. As I hand paint and handcraft all of my jewellery pieces, it enables me to integrate my unique artist’s style onto one-of-a-kind pieces – whilst staying true to my colourful, abstract roots. The jewellery is also ideal to take and display at fairs, as a nice addition to my abstract artwork.”

Balancing quality and sustainability

“I always use faux leather as part of my ‘no harm to animals’ ethics. Wherever possible I use repurposed faux leather and cuttings from unused garments which solves the problem of keeping the clothes out of the landfill.”

The role of the craftsman

“I am in the process of sourcing vegan leather which is made from recycled plastic bottles! This will play a huge part in enabling me to do my bit for the environment and to set a new trend. This will be a revolutionary twist and will enable me to offer a new range bringing something new to the market.

The reason I haven’t used vegan leather in the past is that I still need to be able to make my jewellery affordable for my customers. Where vegan leather currently costs considerably more to buy, I need to work out a solution which suits both my budget as a small business and that of my customers – whilst keeping my products sustainable.”

Calling all sustainable leathercrafters

Are you an eco-conscious leathermaker based in the UK? The Artisanry Co. community offers a supportive network of small and independent makers. Find out more about joining our community here.