“One of the main reasons why people start crafting (hobby in general); One of them is getting away from your stressful living conditions and the troubles you face in life, you kind of rehabilitate yourself, and the other one is to buy the leather, materials and hand tools that you will use in producing leather products, for example. You are paying a certain amount. You want a return on your expenses. As your earnings increase, it becomes a second income.”
Mr. Yalın, can we first get to know Leather Anatolia?
First of all, I, Yalın Uçar, and my wife, Eda Uçar, own the Leather Anatolia Leather and Handicrafts Atelier. We offer handmade and industrial leather products, which we make by sewing and cutting with our hands, both by machine and by hand, to the service of the willing and those who pay the price.
We usually design the products we make in our workshop ourselves. We produce bulk products, we have foreign sales. The main criterion here is that everything is designed by considering, sifting and working on it, so our difference from a standard leather workshop is that we can both model a design from scratch and update an existing design with a picture taken from two or three angles when they bring it to us. In this sense, we can say that we are producing a kind of boutique design workshop and leather products.
Mr. Yalın, I want to start with the story of Leather Anatolia. How did the process actually start?
The workshop was not a name, but an idea that came to life about seven and a half years ago, as the beginning of the work. I was working as a civil servant. During my civil service, I was interested in hobby activities in my free time to relax due to a busy work schedule. I had hobby activities such as handmade knives and wood carving. One day, I felt the need to make a sheath for a handmade knife I made, and I saw that I could also make the sheath out of leather.
My leather story started with a knife sheath of mine. I met leather while making a leather sheath for a handmade knife I made. Of course, meanwhile, my brother-in-law sent the materials from Istanbul. Along with them, I accidentally cut a piece of leather as much as I could, sewed it and made a knife sheath. Then the knife sheath was not enough. I saw that the skin is beautiful.
Because when dealing with any hobby, there are pros and cons of the hobby. For example, when you work in metalworking, there is a lot of noise in the equipment you work with. You cannot work everywhere. You have to work in a workshop. At that time, of course, I was already doing my own job. I also do this as a hobby. I have to work at home. Wood carving, when you put wood, sawdust comes out and becomes dust. The lady gets angry, of course. While we were dealing with leather, when we realized that leather could be made as a hobby on a table in a corner at home, we realized that it was very valuable for us and we could continue. This was how it started, but later on, the products we made started with small card holders. Then I started to make my own designs from the wallet. I started making bags. When we started to be liked around, we started to make a financial gain. It happened without realizing it.
One day I gave a bag as a gift. I just came home and I have some money in my pocket. To my spouse: “I said where did this money come from?”, “I don’t know!” said. Then I realized that the person to whom I gave the bag as a gift stuck money in my pocket during the conversation. Then I went and presented the money back. Everything has a price for me. This also has a cost. “This may be a little bit, but please accept it,” he said. It was our first acquaintance with money in the leather hobby. Normally, we always gave gifts to others, but of course you learn by doing.
You get perfect as you make designs and hand stitches. When he started to design beautiful things, the demands increased. New designs came, we did new works. While continuing to produce individually as retail, it suddenly started to make us money. But after we made money, we turned to industrial in time because it took a long time because we did everything by hand. I mean machines. This one also has a different story:
One day I made a bag. Sewing, crafting, inseams, lining stitches, connecting took me five days and made me tired for five days. I said I shouldn’t be sewing for so long. When I saw that I spent time sewing from morning to evening, I thought I should buy a machine. That’s how I switched to the machine, I bought my first machine, then I bought a shaver, then the logo printing machine grew, my first machine was the same brand. Durkopp Adler.
Kraft studies have increased in recent years. Leather work is a difficult craft, we are going through such a process that leads to disappearance in certain handicrafts. In other words, what would you like to say in terms of developing handicrafts in our country?
Actually, the difficulty is: To make a definitional concept of difficulty, everything is difficult before it is easy. Generally, a person who has not done a job on that subject will have difficulty when he starts that job. But the more you do, the more you progress, the more you learn, the more you research, the more you keep doing it, and the more you gain some experience in that job, the easier it gets. So everything is difficult at first, but it gets easier as you do it. Everything is difficult before it is easy. In fact, I think that anyone who spends the necessary effort, the necessary attention and the necessary time in a certain period of time can do this difficult profession or any profession.
As for the Kraft thing. Now handmade crafts are valued all over the world. Not only in our country, but when you look at it, everyone who makes crafts earns a lot of money. When you look at various countries in the world, even well-made materials can be sold without finding their place, due to the bad economy in Turkey, our people making different craft works and people’s purchasing power is not very high.
I think two things need attention for Kraft. The first is interest and the second is knowledge. So the person who has both. I’m not saying any work just for kraft, it can do it. Of course, interest must come first, because the interested person is informed. If the information also raises the interest, an incredible wealth of information is created in the form of such a beautiful cycle/transformational way that interest brings information, knowledge brings interest. As a result of the application, good products come out.
To talk about leather hobby in Turkey; Everyone wants to do something, one of the main reasons why people start crafting: First, to get away from stressful life conditions. While the other is doing that job, after all, while doing a job, you buy the leather, you buy the materials to process, you buy the hand tools. Even if you buy a machine like me in the process, everything has a price and after this price comes out of pocket in a certain way, people want these gains to return. Because constantly spend, constantly spend, to a certain extent, a person has a certain power, but after that he wants to earn it back. Therefore, one of the main reasons for craft work is to get away from stress as a hobby. Because it’s like rehabilitation, you’re cutting, it’s hard. When you start sewing, all your problems disappear. The second is to make some money. Those who do this job well also earn a lot of money. Then they slowly return to business.
Mr. Yalın, if we want to talk about the products, what did you start doing in the first period when you started handicrafts?
One has to prove himself by going from small to big. We try to use our minds and labor while doing our job. You need to start small and get better, then grow. First of all, it is necessary to start small, but this is a little bit related to one’s talent. If he has the ability to do great things, he needs to get into it gradually. I always kept it small at first, I worked on small products.
I made a sample credit card wallet or a minimalist wallet. After working for a while, I realized that I can make the mold myself. After all, our lives always pass in certain patterns. I said that I can already make this mold myself. Therefore, everyone in the market already sells wallets, card holders, bags, but there is not much attempt to create and sell a different model. Over time, we started to produce models tailored to the needs.
To give an example, one day a client came to us and said that I would like to have a leather case made for wine tasting. Our customer said that he could easily pour the wine into the glass while it was in the case, and we produced a model for them. This model is a rare model in the market. So a few people do it abroad. Of course, not the same, but as a different model. For example, we had to make the handle solid. We had to make a mushroom so that the mushroom would not disappear. When you open it, you insert the cork and it does not disappear. For example, we used guard buckles so that it would not fall when it was loaded. Because during use, we had to make something more solid in order not to see the bottle falling on the floor, or falling on the table and breaking the glasses, or getting wine on a person. And this model emerged. Need-based designs. So they needed us and found us. We made the design, we sent the model to them, they liked it and they bought it.
Mr. Yalın, you said that you made the design yourself. There are many details of modeling, can we actually open the subject?
Yes. We produced prototypes. For example, we had some problems with the first and second prototypes. Let me show you the same product right away; When we did it in the first one, the frame inside it bent down due to the weight of the wine because we made the leather very thin. We thickened it up a bit. We made the handle one layer. We got it, the bottle fell and broke. And in our second attempt, we saw that when we hold the spine, it tilts too much and we can’t keep it under control. For this reason, we made applications such as strengthening, thickening and changing the places in the model and finalized it. Therefore, a person can easily take it and pour it and put it back on the table.
Have you had any other designs in the field of crafts and crafts?
Our duffle bag is a bag that not everyone can make on the market. It has a special side to us with its general design lines. We originally designed it as a bike bag. While making this bike bag, we made a collapsible hanger to see how it can be attached to the front of the handlebar, under the seat or to the middle bar, and we sold a lot like that. We generally sold this product abroad. We only sold one or two domestically. Then one day someone came, I liked this bag very much. He wondered if we could do this to my girlfriend, and it turned out to be this tote bag. In other words, women can easily put their materials in it and use it.
It is no longer a bicycle bag and has become a women’s bag.
Yes, it has become a tote bag. In other words, it is necessary to turn the product towards whatever the need is, and not every product is sold. Because people pay a lot of attention to the brand when choosing a product. In other words, a brand determines a price according to where it positions itself in the market. For example, a Channel, a Prada, a Louis Vuitton or Miu Miu bag for example. He spends according to how he positions himself, and there are also advertising expenditures under those expenditures. Therefore, when determining the price of our products, we do not only calculate the material, the materials we use and the duration of the workmanship, but also place it at a certain point so that our brand can take a place. But of course we are a small workshop. When you look at it, we don’t do such big things. However, we want our products and works to meet people.
Lamborghini, for example, does not advertise at all. Why doesn’t he? Because they asked Why don’t you advertise? The authorities said that our customer doesn’t have that much time to watch TV. Those who buy it are rich people who work hard without watching TV.
Brand bags have both a perception and a brand price. The brand has a position in the market. That’s why people actually pay for the brand, not the bag. Our handmade products are valuable because they are handmade. No matter how much you can change a wallet, how many times you look inside, how many pieces you make, there are still certain standards for the wallet. In other words, there is no octagonal wallet in the market, because the pocket it enters is clear, the shape of the money to be put in is clear, the size of the card is clear. Therefore, it does not go beyond certain shapes. But some products gain value when they go out of some shape definitions and become another design.
Mr. Yalın, with the effect of the pandemic period, I saw the leather mask among your products in your works, have there been any feedbacks?
Yes, he has a very interesting story too. We made this Steampunk model inside a mask, but also in a pocket, using a real mask, that is, a surgical mask that we used in three layers. Now I did this for the first time. I think my pandemic period was either at the beginning or maybe a month and a half later, I shared this on Instagram, would you believe? 10 thousand people liked it. Not only did they like it, there were people who wanted it from England, Norway, America, Africa and the Far East. The interesting thing was that the sale of masks was prohibited in Turkey and I could not send or sell this mask abroad. I said, unfortunately, it is not sold in our country. Because when you sold the mask, the penalty was coming. Many people liked it. Instead of giving it to someone as a gift, we decided to use it as an exhibition material in our workshop. How it looks when you wear it is also important. It has a different look and attracts attention. We have to constantly change the mask inside, because the leather material sweats when it comes into contact with the body, and not every person is used to sweat, so although it is not very useful, it has a very nice visual stance.
There are masks used by workers in recent years. I think these masks have the potential to be the mask style used by the workers.
See, this is a good idea too. We’re getting this right now. Let’s think about how we can work on this idea. In other words, everything can be combined with leather anyway, rather than just leather, parts that combine with leather are more popular.
For example, we have ideas about combining two materials, three materials. For example, there are those who make leather with canvas, or leather with metal or leather with textiles. We have a friend who owns a bag workshop, they make handmade bags and have women make them. There is the fabric of that region, weaving, rug fabric, they put leather on it and they make a tote bag style shopping bag.
When we combine two things, something else can come out, when you combine two or three things, it can be something else. So it’s not just leather. In other words, the thing that makes the skin look beautiful is not just itself. You use the metal differently, you use the color differently. There are intermediate materials you use, you use them differently, and something completely different emerges. But the important thing here is that the leather itself is a value. Besides, the fact that your labor and time is valuable and the effort is on it, and the combination of two materials is a much different value.
Mr. Yalın, I see that you are making notebooks and book covers for the reflection of leather craftsmanship, what would you like to say about this detail?
Yes, we make notebooks, book covers. This is a well-known model. The wrap notebook and book cover fit a standard A5 size book, but there are also A5 notebooks. You fold one side of the A5 notebook and place the book. If you want to put the pen too, it has a place to hold it. There are other workshops that do this as well. There are similar models as well. The aim here is to bring together what is valued, for example, to read a book. Why shouldn’t the reader use leather in his valuable book and make it more protected? There are so many good books. So every book is a world. He has a very special book and he always carries it with him. Take Robinson Cruseo, for example. It is very famous, it has a story. Whenever someone had a problem, he would open it and read it. While reading, he used to find and solve the problem he faced in real life, and close it and use it as a bedside book. I mean, those kinds of books. A cover for any book. It’s perfect to protect your book, carry it with you, and combine the two if you also love leather.
Mr. Yalın, There is also the art of leather book binding in history, and we keep it alive in a way. What is your view on the historical part of the business, how are things progressing today?
Definitely. Let’s take a look at the history of this business. Leather is something that has been around since human history. In other words, people have already used leather to protect themselves, to dress, to make shoes, to put fur on them, to protect them from the cold, to make tents when appropriate, to be protected from the heat. Leather has always been used because leather is a sustainable material that can be found in nature. But is there enough leather now? No. But should it? It should be. Does it need to be valued gradually? Yes, it should be given. It needs to find its old value.
Because with today’s technology, some of our living habits have changed and some things have started to disappear. Some professions are in danger of disappearing, just as some habits are in danger of disappearing. Leather is a part of the history of humanity that will be until the end of humanity’s destiny. In fact, it is a part of us, a part of a living creature, and we have always used it. We have made a material valuable and useful. Therefore, it is a sustainable and sustainable product.
We call it “sustainability”, in fact, this concept has become very common in recent years. The same is true in our country, especially in European countries. People like you, who make artisanal efforts, are very valuable to offer leather for use with handicraft instead of being waste to the soil with sustainable materials. What would you like to say to future generations in order to continue this profession?
Before giving a message to future generations, people lead their lives by their own choices. One day a lady came to our workshop and said, are these leather or artificial leather? I said real leather, oops, he said I don’t touch the leather and left. We respect the situation and preferences related to the personal preference of a person to be vegan, not to touch the skin or not to consume animal food. But in general, there is a meat and dairy industry in this world. In other words, livestock is raised for meat, cattle are used to provide red meat. We cannot do anything about it. Because people have to be satiated, they have to take protein. Meat is the main ingredient of animal protein.
There is also the fact of not causing waste under sustainability. If you throw away that skin now, it will disappear in nature. Yes, it’s a fact, but once you make it available, reputation will benefit people. Therefore, when you look at it, I see sustainability both in terms of slow fashion and in terms of the skin’s own acquisition, with the approach that if we don’t use it, it would be a waste. I take a holistic view of the matter. If I am wrong, please forgive me. On the other hand, new leather models have emerged. They produce leather from the fungus. They do not use the one, they make something similar to leather from a completely different material, and they present it as if it were leather by passing pressure rollers on it and printing leather. We are also against this. We think that such movements damage the skin. Because it is not real leather, and we do not yet know what the future consequences of the material made of cork will be. This is a newer technology. When something new comes out, it should be used for 20-30 years in general so that a result and numerical evaluations can come out. Therefore, we are against that kind of leather, that is, fake leather. There is also the artificial leather market. I’m not saying anything to him either. It is also called polyurethane material PU leather.
On the other hand, the message I will give about the future… Of course, we are not big enough to give a message, but let me tell you something as far as I know.
People struggle to value it as they live their own lives. We have to work until we die. We think that we will die where we stop, and there are indeed many examples of this among us. Whenever someone who is retired or over a certain age does not work, then death approaches him. So we will work until the end.
People should do what they love. When you do what you love, life turns into a festival. We do this because we love it. We started hard. Hobby means love. Craft means love, kneading with love. As a general principle, I can only say this. He is a manual worker, but it is the master who reveals his mind. If we add something from the heart and soul, then an artist is an artist. We oscillate between art and mastery. We live in this mess all the time. Sometimes our soul says let’s do it like that, our mind says we shouldn’t do that. There is a technique to this job, let’s do it like this. We’re having some confusion there. Try to do what you love. I can only say this. Whatever it’s called, be it craft, craft, work anywhere. Because people do not do the job they love, they go to his school, but then they are forced to work in that job. Because there are life concerns; They have to earn money because they have to eat, they have to stay in a house. But if they love, let them chase after what they love. Those who love this job should definitely start and continue.
Well, thank you very much for the information you provided. These are important information. We didn’t say anything from Ms. Eda, do you want to talk?
Mrs. Eda Yalın’s wife: “Years later, she taught this profession, this job, this valuable job, and made me love it, and now I am at the head of this business.”
Mr. Yalın: “So one day we got a big job. I saw that I could not raise it, we said that we should not miss the money. Meanwhile, I consulted with my wife. I said do you work? He said there is a monetary return, let’s give it a try. After that, I showed the basic techniques. Then we finished that job in three or four days. We delivered it within the requested time. Good money came. I said this money is yours, you earned it, I couldn’t have done it without you. It gave him strength. After that, she slowly started to like him. So you have to love from somewhere. You know, it’s like giving a gift to our children while they are running a job, feeding them with something else to guide them. We need to feed ourselves. My wife was open to learning, she understood what I said and what I showed. He developed himself by practicing. Right now he’s doing it himself without saying anything.”
Ms. Eda, This is a great craft, learning it as a housewife, was it difficult for you?
Ms. Eda: Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of such a housewife anymore. At this time, as a mother, as a housewife, and as a business woman, we have to start the struggle from somewhere. I chose this direction and I am very happy. Indeed, as he says, it is an incredible therapy, and frankly, a product you make yourself is much more enjoyable when you eat your bread and your money. I tasted it. Thank you to my wife too. He made me fall in love with this profession.
Mr. Yalın: So glad I have you
Ms. Eda: So we work, we struggle in some way and I hope everyone will start doing this job and profession in some way.
In the past, our mothers used to weave carpets or make embroideries and become therapy with them. Now, since it is in the branch of professions that are about to disappear with the change of times, it is necessary to bring them to light and keep them alive. I wish you continued success. I hope you are doing good work.
When you work, you produce. Let there be no problem in our health, let nothing happen to our peace. When you work, good things come out.
Mr. Yalın, on behalf of the leather industry from Turkey, I would like to thank Magazine Leather for your valuable time.
we wish you continued success.