Spotlight | Andrew Reeson, Leatherworker
an artisan leatherworker with a passion for local
This week we visited Andrew Reeson in his leatherworking studio.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Andrew is that he’s tall – really tall. Tall enough to take up sewing just so he can find trousers that fit. His interest in making things – including his wife’s wedding dress – led Andrew to craft his first pair of shoes and discover leatherwork in the process. His line of luxury leather bags and accessories are made in Toowoomba from Australian leather and canvas with solid brass hardware. These are seriously beautiful products, made (and guaranteed) to last a lifetime.
As he worked, we chatted to Andrew about the local craftsman community, Italian dinners, and being the perfect house husband.
Name: Andrew Reeson
Known For: wild anecdotes, excessive height, not understanding questions
Local since: forever!
First things first: why Toowoomba?
I was born in Toowoomba, raised in Meringandan and now live back in Toowoomba. I’ve never left the area. I would hate to live in a big city, and Toowoomba is a pretty great size. I go hiking every week and love how close we live to the bush.
What do you do here – and how is it different?
I make luxury leather goods in my small workshop in North Toowoomba. My first item was a pair of shoes I made as part of a course in Brisbane. Next was a tote bag for my wife. Someone liked it and bought one for themselves. Now I make everything from wallets to weekender bags. Wherever possible I use Australian materials; I have my leather custom-tanned for me in Victoria.
There are very few people doing what I do. While there are a lot of leatherworkers in Australia, there aren’t many catering to the luxury market. I didn’t set out to make luxury products, I started at a very basic level and kept improving my products until I was happy. I’m careful with how I spend my money, so when I offer a product I really consider if I would be happy paying for it. If I wouldn’t be happy with the product, then why should I expect anyone else to be? If it’s not good enough for me, it doesn’t leave the workshop.
What have you learned about running a business in Toowoomba?
Toowoomba is a great place to be a craftsman. There are plenty of other crafters to learn from and most people in town can appreciate the value of a handcrafted item over a mass produced one.
What does an average day look like for you?
Kiss my wife Brooke goodbye, shed a tear, head to the workshop and start making. I try to put in a few good hours of work at the start of the day because I’ve learned that the first activity of the day sets the tone for everything else. If I’m not actively crafting, I’m taking photos and posting them to social media. I have found a community of other leatherworkers on Instagram and have learned so much from them, so I end up spending some time interacting with them and gleaning all the wisdom I can. Some admin is inevitable, but once that is done I can work on new designs and test out new techniques and ideas. Before my wife gets home I rush around and do what I need to do to maintain the perfect house husband image. She is yet to fall for it.
What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?
I’m torn between crafting (it’s my job, but I still enjoy it) and chillaxing with Brooke and a book. Either way I try to avoid screens as much as I can and make the most of the time available. I enjoy hitting up markets and meeting other crafters and creatives.
Only a Toowoomba local would know…
The best restaurants in town are sometimes hidden away from the CBD.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
PERK UP: Sunrise on Tabletop
RELAX: Sunset at Horn Park
EAT: ONS at Northlands. Incredible Italian food.
SHOP: Geo Cossarts Saddlers (Wings over the Downs)
CATCH UP: Phatburgers
BE INSPIRED: Walking through the CBD and seeing all the street art