This started as a simple idea. We wanted to continue to help the victims of the Loko fire, many of whom were without jobs or skills.
Friends of our in the north (The Williams family) started a leather working project with the ladies in Northern Uganda. Their projects were quite beautiful: Handmade leather journals. Ken had started working with some scraps to make a case for his Kindle. It was rough suede, felt great in the hand, and it captured me.
I remembered back to my time in Morocco and Jordan when I spent hours milling around the casbahs and I’d always be drawn to the leather products. I remember being fascinated with the craftsmanship, the tools and most of all with the art of a skilled leather worker. I always thought it was something beyond my skills.
When Ken showed me his case and explained that it was “simple” and that he had no formal training, it sparked an interest in me. The fire was lit when I realized 1) that there was a (foul-smelling) tannery almost in my backyard and 2) that I had promised the residents of Loko that I would find some way to help them find jobs after the fire.
On a recent trip to the US I visited my new friends at Springfield Leather and they showed me some of the basic tools we would need. I used some HFC funds to buy tools and when I returned to Uganda I visited the tannery.
My goal was to make high-quality, unique handmade cases for high-value gadgets like smartphones, tablets and laptops. I started with cases for the iPhone 4/4s.
It’s taken me almost a month to figure out the basic skills and to get to the point that I feel like I have a product that I can replicate and customize rather well. Jen’s joined me in the last couple of weeks and her sense of style added some much-needed flair to the cases we think the girls will like. (I’m working with heavier leather and cases primarily for guys). Her influence changed the project literally overnight, and just like that, we had a product we were proud of.
Having said that, I’m proud to introduce our first few case designs. We will be bringing our first batch to Defcon where we will be selling them (and auctioning a few) to hopefully pay for the tools we bought. My goal is to start the project debt-free. Eventually, we may begin selling them on Etsy, but one step at a time. I hope you enjoy the cases, and please let us know if you have any ideas. We’d love to hear them.
Thanks for your support as always!