Today we are featuring a couple of maker/designers from Whistler, BC who own and operate Love Jules Leather. They make stunning handmade shoes, belts and other great things. We are mad about they’re stuff! Check out the interview below to find out how they work.
Who are you and where is your workshop?
We’re a two person partnership (in life & in business), Jules Vagelatos & Josh Blodans. We have a little leather studio, we operate under the name Love Jules Leather, we’re based in Whistler, B.C., Canada and it’s (all of it) radical.
How and why did you start your business
Jules attended art school (Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia) from 2004 through 2007, where she majored in drawing. In her 2nd to last year of school, she began apprenticing with a leather smith, based in Dartmouth Nova Scotia, at first simply as a means to pay the rent. Unexpectedly, she fell in love with leather work, and upon graduating in the Spring of 2007, she returned home to Whistler, B.C., and began creating her own functional leather art, combining traditional leather crafting with her love of drawing. Simply a hobby at first, Love Jules Leather has evolved fairly dramatically over the past (almost) 5 years.
Why do you hand make your products? What do you get out of it?
We’re blessed to be able to walk down to our garage based studio each and every morning, coffee in hand, to start our “work day” , which in a nutshell revolves around us creating. Designing our leather pieces is creative & fun, but to handcraft something from start to finish is rewarding on a whole other level.
How long does it take to make your pieces?
We began back in 2007 making one of a kind belts, which included recycled elements, and unique images which we vowed not to repeat. Since then, we’ve learned a heck of a lot, both on the craft and business side, and are excited about where we’re at, and where we hope to be headed. We’re currently focused on our one off Topsider style boat shoes, and leather high tops. By no means are we trained cobblers, so self learning to handcraft shoes has been an extremely frustrating labour of love. If all goes according to plan a pair of loafers take a full 10 – 12 hour day, where a pair of high tops will take a day and a half.
What is your studio/work space like?
We live in a beautiful area of a beautiful Canadian mountain town, Whistler, B.C., Canada. Our studio is conveniently located in our 400 square foot garage, almost rollable to from bed. We’ve still got a little room to grow, but as we continue to acquire more and more equipment, I could see us having to get real creative with space utilization fairly soon. We just recently acquired a couple of 1940’s era industrial shoe soling machines (not quite up and running yet), one of which weighs over 900 lbs. Not sure how many more of these monsters we could accommodate without completely cramping our style.
What new products do you have in mind for 2012?
Full steam ahead on our kicks. We’ve already started to play around with the re-design of the loafers & high tops… they seem to be constantly evolving. We want really sink our teeth into some backpacks, incorporate some different fabrics into some our pieces (we’re thinking waxed leather & canvass in particular), and we’ve got some pretty freakin’ cool collaborations on the horizon.
How would you like your collection to grow? And where would you like to see it sold?
We’ve learned enough over our first 5 years to know we want to continue to grown as organically as possible. It’s just the two of us right now, and we really like it that way. Ideally we’ll continue to grow to a place where we can sustain a modest lifestyle (which would include ample ski days & road trips to far off music festivals) here in the town we love, surrounded by our friends and family, and stop. By no means do we ever want to take on too much. We know our limits, and we’re okay with that. That’s obviously on the volume side… on the creative side, well, the sky’s the limit.
Good luck guys, all the best….
Gwyn & Tamra