A Look Back at 2021
Connections and Collaborations
Back in January 2021 in the depths of another lockdown, me and Jemma from Emotional Waterfall got together for a little lockdown boredom busting collaboration. Emotional Waterfall is another Bristol (UK) based small creative business (Bristol is absolutely bursting with small independent creative brands). I have always been a fan of Jemma's colourful, abstract painting and love the way she painted an exclusive selection of mini leather envelope wallets.
Another UK based creative brand that I'm a bit gaga over is La Basketry. Tabara creates beautiful, authentic homeware and baskets that have their roots in Senegalese basket weaving. When I launched my clog kits back in May, Tabara jumped at the chance to be a kit tester. This partnership then evolved into a fantastic giveaway - one lucky winner won a clog kit as well as a rope basket kit. Perfect crafts for picnic season!
Being able to support charities is something that I hope to do more of as my business grows. I was very happy to be included in a charity raffle organised by Untld Project this December. Loads of small creative brands came together to gift prizes for the raffle that raised money for 2 charities - Black Minds Matter who connect black individuals and families with free mental health services from black therapists to support their mental health and Women For Afghan Women are working day and night to provide safe shelter, resources, and aid to keep thousands of women, children, families, and their own staff safe.
New Craft Kits and DIY Leather Crafting
In amongst all the goals I had for 2021 (making my website even more pukka, starting a regular email newsletter, embarking on my PR journey, keeping my studio less chaotic, putting all my numbers into a spreadsheet so I can actually decipher how much money I have left to give myself a salary) I had 2 product launch goals - release a kit for people to make their own leather clogs at home, and launch a stitchless backpack kit.
The clog kit launch was my most successful yet. Who knew there were so many of you who were gagging to make their own sexy wooden soles! I have really loved seeing all your posts and pictures about your proud makes and loved seeing how you styled your clogs. It is an absolute aim of mine to be able to offer a high level of customisation of my kits - it's so important to me that you can choose as much as possible in terms of style, shape and colour to make the finished product as much YOU as possible!
Creating a Stitchless Backpack Kit was a natural progression on from my best selling Stitchless Bucket Bag Kit. The shape and easy functionality of the Bucket Bag translated so well into a Backpack. It's both laidback and pared back. I wanted to give the leather choices a refresh for this launch and added two delicious new muted veg tan leather colours - smog and burnt sienna. I hope you like them!
Throughout 2021 I continued to source most of my materials from UK suppliers, supporting small businesses. All my leather now comes from either Italy or Belgium and is exclusively a by product of the European beef industry. In early 2022 I will be phasing out the chrome-tanned leather (that has been used for the mini bag kits as well as the clog kits). In a bid to use only leather that has been tanned in the traditional way with vegetable tannins rather than minerals (which can be harmful to both the skin and the environment) I have sourced a range of beautiful vegetable tanned Italian leather in delicious bright colours such as cobalt, sunflower, dusky violet, rose, azure and mint. These new colours will be available in the mini bag kit, the paintable envelope kit, the phone pouch kit, the wallet belt purse kit and the clog kit. These will launch in January 2022!
I'm in the Press, Darling!
In the summer, I started working on getting my kits and products into the press. I signed up with the fabulous Untld Project and then with PR Dispatch. So far the Wallet Belt Purse Kit has featured in the October Issue of Mollie Makes. Then my Paintable Envelope Wallet Kit was given a score of 9.5/10 in a collection of Best Christmas Gifts for Teens (that they'll actually love!) by the Indy Best. To top it off, my kits were then shown on ITV's This Morning with Holly and Phil in the Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide!!
Have Your Say - What You Think of My Kits
picture by @kreativekymona
I am so so grateful to all of you who take the time to review my products and give me much valued feedback. Since I never really get to meet any of my customers, I love hearing from you on social media (I absolutely LOVE getting DMs!) and through reviews. All you lovely lot have given me exclusively 5 star reviews! I'm sure this can't last but for now I'll take those 5 little stars!!
New Things in Store for 2022
As a possessor of a creative mind, I constantly have new ideas for products and ways to make my business more innovative and sustainable. And as a sole business owner, I am able to have complete control and flexibiltiy over which direction I go. Whilst working alone can sometimes get a little lonely, I'm a natural introvert so don't mind that much and relish time alone in my little studio. But I do love it when I connect with other small businesses and creatives.
I have a few tentative ideas for new products, innovations and collaborations. Some of these may bear fruit, others may fall by the wayside. But there will be plenty of new things in store for Leather Needle Thread in 2022!
- working with an upland cattle farm to produce leather goods from UK tanned leather (I love the possibilities this brings of reducing carbon footprints)
- launching an Espadrille Kit to sit alongside my Clog Kit (less hammering, more stitching!)
- creating a weaveable tote bag kit using leather remnants that are too small to use in my other kits (I also want to create a kit that requires absolutely NO TOOLS - a bag that you can weave together in front of a cosy fire or the TV - much as you'd knit a sweater)
- launching a marbling kit (I'd love to give you the joy of marbling your own wallets and glasses cases - I've found leather marbling to be so much fun!)
photo by Emily Jane Morgan
- exploring vegan bag kits (this is something I've always wanted to provide - I'd like to make 2022 the year I offer kits to make your own bags and accessories with leather like materials made from pineapple husks and apple skin!)
- in person workshops (a tentative move to launch a workshop series based on my kits at my studio in Bristol - having not done any teaching in over 2 years due to Covid restrictions means I am feeling the need to reconnect with my craft loving tribe again!)
A massive big THANK YOU for supporting my little enterprise this past year!