Thank you for checking out my shop! My name is Dan. I am originally from Leeds, in West Yorkshire, which is in a northern part of the UK. I started Rivet & Chain in May of 2018, although the true beginnings go back almost five years prior, when I returned home to England after a year of study in Canada. I would soon move back to Canada in 2014 after finishing my degree in Conservation Biology, and during that time I had learned something.
I had packed my entire life into a suitcase and moved to another country by plane three times in two years with one bag. That meant that a lot of my stuff ended up being left behind, donated, or thrown out. That experience really forced me to be mindful about what I actually owned. Knowing that nearly everything I bought was soon going to be carried on my back, metaphorically speaking, meant that I had to thoroughly consider every new clothing purchase. Whatever I bought was going to have to take the place of something I currently owned. In doing this, I started to lean towards buying quality over quantity. I bought less but spent more (not that I had much money as a student), and started looking into where the things I bought were made, and indeed how they were made. I purchased my first pair of raw denim, and spent nearly twice as much as what I would normally spend on a pair of jeans. However, the superior construction, durability and quality of the fabric, and knowing that with each wear they would conform to my body and fade into a perfectly unique pair meant that they replaced most of the jeans I had in my wardrobe at the time.
Though looking around it was hard to find many other products designed with longevity in mind, truly. Modern product design relies on the notion that things become obsolete within a few years, and perhaps after just a few short months if you pay close attention to the fashion industry. These things will unnecessarily end up in landfill, and another inexpensive thing will take its place, made somewhere that pays poor wages and has even poorer working conditions. These consumerist attitudes endanger our planet, our bank accounts, and dare I say, our happiness.
This mindset led me to eventually start Rivet & Chain, but my start into leather working took even me by surprise. It was through a friend who proposed that we make frame bags for our bikes out of leather, homemade DIY style. He told me about a local leather-working store where I might be able to pick up a sewing awl from, which is made for stitching leather together quickly and easily; a tool for beginners. I wouldn't know until I got there, however, that I would instead be walking out with a whole set of tools, not one of them a sewing awl. I had decided that instead of dipping my toes into this new hobby, I was going to take the plunge, and dive into learning everything there was to know about it.
He went along the route that done is better than perfect, and made his bag with a sewing awl, and a lot of glue. Despite some wonky stitching, what he ended up making worked exactly how he intended it to. Nevertheless he conceded that my first attempt at leathercraft went quite a lot better than his.
Afterwards, I tried my hand at making wallets and belts for myself and family and friends, all done on the coffee table in my living room. Needless to say I was hooked, and continued to hone my craft in the evenings after my day job and in my free time on weekends. It made a such a positive impact on me to see someone use something I had made for them, and know that it might be with them for many years. When I started Rivet & Chain, I was making all of my products out of the workshop I had set up in my laundry room. Today, I have a bigger dedicated work space in my new home in Edmonton, Canada. I can only hope that my business will continue to grow.
I believe that handmade products have a story behind them, even if that story is as little as knowing the name of the person that made them. It isn't very often that you can say that anymore. Small imperfections in the finished product, typical of anything made by hand, make it so you can almost visualise the maker sitting down and stitching it up. Hence you know it hasn’t just been popped out of a mold in a factory somewhere.
I make vegetable tanned leather goods intended to be looked after and last a lifetime. By making my products in small batches and doing everything by hand, including stitching, I can use the best materials and traditional construction techniques in order to improve the longevity of my products. Vegetable tanned leather will acquire a unique patina over time, increasing its intrinsic value as it wears. By using materials that get better with age and use, I hope that my products are less likely to be thrown away and replaced unnecessarily. I promote sustainability and encourage people to be considerate about the things they purchase, keep, and discard.