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HOW IT STARTED

Let me explain —

I was studying fashion design in New York, but had fallen out of love with it. I’m pretty neurotic about details and there’s a whole lot that go into a collection of womenswear. And with clothes, what looks great on one person’s figure doesn’t always complement the next person. I always liked the idea that accessories can go with any body type, so during my last semester at FIT I signed up for an accessory design class…partially out of interest, partially because I needed the credit. But I fell in love with bags. I was sitting at my favorite Juki (a sewing machine) when my revelatory moment went down….I was staring at this briefcase I’d made for this class. It had a lot of bells and whistles with very little tact. (I did some digging in my archives and found it for you so you can see the evolution of where we were versus where we are now.) 

front, back and interior views of beige leather briefcase with long shoulder strap

So I had just finished this thing, just got done clipping its threads, and sat back to look at it. I’d made a lot of clothes in my life — I’d been sewing since I was a kid! My greatest accomplishment up to this point was this ball gown I spent an entire semester making. Which was ironic, because ball gowns are just really not my thing. Finishing that dress was something I was proud of. But that took a backseat to how this bag made me feel. It was a sensation that I craved, that feeling of pride and accomplishment, after surprising myself by making this thing. I’d been making clothes for years, but bags were some uncharted waters, and even more than that — I was working with leather for the first time. Leather is unpredictable, seductive, nightmarish, and challenging, which adequately describes most things I loved at the time, and thus began the love affair of a lifetime with my newest, and longest standing art form, leatherwork.

three different art studios with woman working
photo credit: bottom left: Fabian Palencia / right: Eva Cruz

Over the next several years I worked six different part time jobs and spent all my money on leather, hardware, and tools. I pulled all nighters twice a week for a while because I was so excited to make art. A lot of it was experimental — I’m self-taught, and there was a lot of trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t, in terms of both technique and what actually sold. Four studios, thousands of dollars of leather, countless sewing needle related stab wounds, seven hammered knuckles, and ten collections later, something very monumental happened to me: I fell in love again.

two women sitting on a bench on a california pier looking at each other in because they are in love
photo credit: Eva Cruz

I realized pretty quickly that I was gonna marry her, so I sold most of my stuff, quit my day job, left New York and moved to California so we could be together. Currently we’re living in farm country, in the middle of actual nowhere, in this tiny town called Lemoore. Three hours from both LA and SF, but it was 60 degrees all winter, and I got to marry the girl of my dreams, so I’m not mad about it. And also: I’m now doing leatherwork full time. !!!

It’s a privilege to get to make art everyday. Literally my wildest dreams have come true! Throwing myself into my work has always been my M.O. and now I get to do it from sun up to sun down. I’m filled with gratitude that this is the life I get to live — and all the credit goes to my family. My parents had a small business that supported our family — and taught me about resourcefulness and work ethic. My abuela on my mom’s side moved to the US at age 12 from Nicaragua, speaking no English, knowing no one but her mom and her sister. After the 8th grade she left school to be able to work and support her family. Any success I’ll ever experience belongs to the ones who laid the groundwork before me.

a grandma and her granddaughter and a small dog
photo credit: Georgette Forney

I’m really excited to be full time with leatherwork and can’t wait to show you what else I have planned for 2018. I’ll be posting regularly, writing about all the neuroses that accompany small business ownership and life as an artist in Central California.
Keep an eye out -- I'll also posting new work as regularly as possible! 

Thanks for reading and for supporting my work.
I wouldn’t be here without you!

Beka
Owner & Maker
Louise Goods

PS. Head over here for more info on the process behind the leatherwork!