Returning to the Etsy Well – Small Makers Big on Quality
Denim heads are incorrigible consumers. A new pair of jeans is followed by a second pair, which is followed by a new button down. That button down is followed by new shoes, hats, belts, watches, watch bands, bracelets, jewelry, sunglasses and socks. Oh, don’t forget wallets and key chains too.
We scour the internet, boutiques and thrift stores for anything to add to our collection, often leading us to have an encyclopedic knowledge of what to get where. Yet one of the few places that, due to its vastness, still lays unmapped is the maker marketplace Etsy.
Sure, everyone has been on Etsy at one time or another. But with an over-saturated market of sellers, how do we find goods that match the quality encapsulated in our jeans? We’ve rounded up some of our favorite makers to help you find the best of Etsy for a second time around.
Brandon White, purveyor of BWeiss Leather, is a fairly imposing figure. This German-American towers over most of the world at 6’5″ while he works with his hands all day. To put food on the table, White works as a contractor, repairing and remodeling interiors and installing new tiling and custom trim. Despite his success in construction, his focus has continued to drift more and more towards his leather business.
His interest in leather peaked in the late 2000s and he opened his shop in the past couple of years. It’s not uncommon for White to spend his evenings cutting out leather for his products in preparation for an order, a nice escape from the bitter winters of upstate New York. It’s starting to pay off, with more orders, new products and even a hat collaboration now seeing production.
Meanwhile, across the US in California, Soojin Chae and Yina Kim of ODSY Workshop (taken from odyssey) have been tooling away, making small batches of goods at their recently acquired storefront in San Francisco. Their space had been a shoe repair store for decades, so the pair decided to keep it running in addition to their craft goods. The consequence of the sentiment, however, has been that their days are now much longer: ODSY goods must wait until the shoe repair business closes down at 6pm.
But they work in harmony, balancing each other well in terms of roles and responsibilities. Yina is a graduate of California College of the Arts in San Francisco, which translates well for imagining and designing new goods. Soojin, on the other hand, is the the jack of all trades, utilizing his crafting skills and financial background to manufacture goods while also lending his acumen to the books.
So this is all well and good. Two aspiring businesses working to establish themselves from small beginnings. But why should anyone here give a damn? Why do these individuals deserve your hard-earned money? Ultimately, that’s for you to decide on your own. As any denim head will explain as they justify their premium denim, the devil is in the details. As with any maker featured on Heddels, both BWeiss Leather and ODSY Workshop care passionately about how their products are made and what they’re made of. All three are denim heads, with Chae and White both sharing a love for Rogue Territory and other workwear. Kim describes herself as a cartoon character, with similarly fashioned staples populating her closet and a fondness for A.P.C. and Acne.
Each source high quality materials from favorites such as Wicket & Craig, Horween, and Cone Mills. ODSY also sources their zippers from UCAN Zipper, a family owned company that is the only one of its kind on the US’s west coast. More importantly, however, each puts their own spin on their goods.
White, for instance, will hand stitch his goods, layering the stitch in a fashion to prevent unraveling. He will also incorporate metal work into his pieces. Extra long copper tubing is used to form his rivets and hammer it down into a perfect dome; for anyone who hasn’t worked with metal before, the added length adds a level of difficulty that, if done incorrectly, will cause the copper to bend and be rendered useless. He’s also ambitious, so if you have an idea for a custom product, he’s likely game for it.
Chae and Kim hold a unique place amongst their product line due to the fact that they have taken hard-wearing styles and incorporated options that are distinct feminine, uncommon in regards to the raw denim and workwear worlds. Their products are elegant and minimalist, ranging from pouches, aprons and wallets. For any male reader on here – let’s be honest, it’s a tad sausage-y around here – looking to introduce a female counterpart into your world, ODSY is a great option. But don’t be afraid to explore for yourself. Like BWeiss, custom works are welcome here; recently they’ve been working on some custom goods for a neighborhood police officer.
Etsy is not the easiest place to shop due to its over-saturation of merchants. You’ll leave amazed by how many people crochet. But sifting through all of the detritus to find a promising new product manufacturer is one of the joys of being into craft goods (for me at least), and therefore can make Etsy worth the journey. For ODSY and BWeiss, this competition creates a challenge for getting noticed and therefore they’ve incorporated other resources to get their name out. But Etsy was each their first platform, and it continues to provide for them to this day.
More From Etsy…
I’d be remiss to not highlight other Etsy shops worth viewing, so here are a few more to take a gander at.
None of these Only one of these shops was featured in our previous Etsy article, found here.
Ian Kahn set up his Etsy shop a little over a year ago with his trusty Singer sewing machine. Thus far he’s pumped out a nice variety of selvedge totes, wallets and aprons. While these all can be frequently found on the internet, two products in particular caught my eye. First is his Black Tote ($120) made of black raw Japanese selvedge and waxed denim and contrasted with yellow stitching and cloth. The waxed denim accents are particularly striking in their subtle but distinct contrast to the rest of the bag. Kahn also offers a minimalist Full Work Apron ($60) that stood out for its use of natural, un-dyed selvedge, something a little different if you’ve gotten sick of all your denim being primarily indigo.
Other than leather and raw denim, waxed canvas has to be on anyone’s list if they’re looking for a great patina, not to mention its water repelling traits. I’ll never shut up about it and, if you haven’t tried it yet, you’re really missing out. Based out of Cincinatti, Volcano Goods shares my love and then some, incorporating waxed canvas into almost every product. Keep a tab on them the next time you’re looking for, tool rolls, pouches and more. Personal experience with a passport case can attest to Volcano’s solid, affordable and attractive products.
For the more dapper individuals who can’t tear themselves away from denim in even the most formal of events, these guys have got you covered. They specialize in bowties of every flavor, from the more subdued Blue Striped Denim bow tie($40), to the downright daring in a Burnt Orange ($35) with smokey grey lace. Likely to be a favorite around here is their Raw Denim bow tie with buffalo leather ($35). Northern Aristocrats also features standard ties, lapel pins and leather bags.
Is anyone really surprised that someone in Brooklyn has up-cycled materials and turned them into bad ass furniture? Matt Loftice has salvaged steel, wood, concrete and yes, denim, to make some really impressive looking pieces that would draw the envy of anyone stepping into your home. If you can afford the blow to your wallet and love a vintage industrial aesthetic, Recycled Brooklyn‘s products celebrate and highlight their materials used in a way any denim head would approve.
I wanted to keep this section restricted to only shops that hadn’t been featured before. But Bela’s shop, Hepville, is the type of treasure you hope to unearth while grinding through Etsy. Heddels featured his selvedge newsboy cap previously, but this bespoke tailor was improperly served by this lone highlight. He learned the old fashioned way (apprenticeship) how to make clothes, and he might be the only person offering a custom pair of selvedge through Etsy.
At a hair over $300, we’re talking about a pretty good price for some bespoke jeans. Hepville specializes in fashion from the 1920s to 1950s, so there’s plenty of waistcoats, bow ties, jeans and hats for the offing, plus the option of custom work as well. As a stockier guy, Bela got into tailoring in part because he had difficulty finding clothes that fit. If you’re empathizing, look no further. Every Hepville review is rocking five stars (out of five).
What are your favorite Etsy makers? Let us know in the comments below!